PhD life

The Archaeologist Who Stayed Home

For the record: I am an archaeologist, even doing a PhD on contemporary archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire. I am not a “mummy blogger,” just putting down a couple of my thoughts on a subject we archaeologists really don’t talk about much.

Four more days. Four dreadfully slow days until my husband comes home from the field. He has been away for seven and a half weeks on a very exciting excavation in southern California, the kind that are once in a lifetime. While he is off having fun in sunny California, I am home writing my PhD and being a mother to our three year old. That’s right archaeologists have CHILDREN!

This is our first big time apart, with only one of us is in the field. Even when we both worked professionally in cultural resource management, we managed to get on the same projects, most of the time. At the time, ten days apart seemed a life time. How ignorant we were. When you can hear the time you are away in the development in the speech of your pre-schooler, you feel you have been away for years. (I did three week field work, six weeks before my husband left, and noticed a difference. I can’t imagine what it will be like for my husband.)

Being apart is something as an archaeological family we are all going to have to adjust to, as such I have really tried to help our Munchkin while dad has been away. Here are three things that have helped us.


  1. Communication: Pretty much a given, but is so much harder in real life. For this particular excavation it was NOT every night, but on his days off we did get to have some Skype time, which helped greatly. Munchkin was mostly happy to get to talk and SEE daddy, but after a call he would act up, which is a kid’s way of showing emotional distress.
  2. Calendar: At three he gets the idea of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and that at one point in the near future we are going to have a church day. Seven weeks may as well be seven years or seven months, no real way to understand. We printed off a calendar of all the days dad is away and let Munchkin choose his stickers. Every morning after breakfast we pull out the calendar and place a sticker. We have learned all about numbers and days of the week (thank you They Might be Giants). We count down every once in a while to see how many days until daddy gets home. He gets numbers. He also get the power of stickers and tries to put his dinosaur sticker on the final day every day, as if by some magic it would make dad come home earlier. (If only…)
  3. Celebrate Important Dates: The 15th of July was one of anniversary days (how long we have been together). We met at a volunteer excavation in Pioche, Nevada a little over a decade ago. We have always celebrated this day as something special. My husband went the extra mile this year and had flowers and a gift sent to me on the day. Even though he was not here, I could feel the love!

If I REALLY, REALLY thought hard I could come up with another two and then it would be a tidy list of five, but then it would seem forced.

Relationships as an archaeologist are tough. I have seen many come and go, and I know that we are not unique. Most of the time I have seen family archaeologist become one in archaeology and one leaves and gets a “real” job. I love archaeology. I don’t want to be the one to leave, I want to be an archaeologist. Thus, I am an archaeologist.

If this post has not been archaeology enough for you, here is how I spent the non-mom section of my day: researching the difference between Temple Grandin and Bud Williams (Google bud box) cattle management systems and how these differences could be seen in ranch corral layouts.