Dad Blogger, Redux

09/26/2014 By Shawn Burns

I’ve spent a lot of the last nine months, the non-blogging months, finishing grad school. I’m done now. Hi, I’m Dr. Shawn Burns, Ph.D., and now I don’t know what I’m doing.

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I spent the spring finishing the writing and editing of my dissertation, while Adrian finished pre-school, and Erin finished first grade. I attended my commencement on Father’s Day, before I defended. I  defended on my birthday, in early July. I revised and submitted my dissertation to the university before the end of July (and before San Diego Comic-Con, which was my little reward for finishing that project). My dissertation was approved by the registrar at the end of July.

And yesterday my degree was conferred, officially. So it’s all official. There are no take-backs. I’m have a Ph.D. and I can never not have a Ph.D. again. Hooray, me. Now what do I do with it?

I am on the job market, but in a very limited way. We are not going to move, so I am not going to chase tenure-track jobs out of a very close geographical area. The story was different when I started grad school, and before we had kids. But reality is what it is. I will only look for jobs close to home, instead of making a home close to jobs. This year it’s looking like there are five or six positions for people with doctorates in my field, but there are zero for people with my specialty. So I won’t be getting any of those jobs.

Now I find myself back at the beginning, where this space started, as a stay-at-home dad with a blog. Back then it was a choice: I took a year off in order to stay home with Erin after she was born, and I wrote about what we were doing, which was all new for me. This feels like less of a choice. Like I have less right to identify as a stay-at-home dad if I am just not participating in the workforce for now, until something comes along. If I am still researching and writing and building a C.V. and portfolio in order to be hired, I don’t get to be in the club anymore. I’m not sure if there was even a club back then, or if I was in it, but I definitely don’t feel like I’m in one now. Who needs clubs? What are the stay-at-home dads up to, these days? What are dad bloggers doing? Is blogging stupid?

Is personal blogging stupid? Professional blogging? I tried to blog professionally for a while a few years ago, and the experience made me quit writing on my own blog, eventually. I didn’t like producing click-bait, participating in controversies, or trying to come up with the most facile, shareable content. I don’t know how to blog like the bloggers do today. I’m not even particularly funny when I blog. I’m funnier on Twitter.

So here I am in this space again and it all feels like a jacket I haven’t worn since I gained or lost weight. But I have time again, and a need to write things. I still have stories. Would you like to hear a story?