Long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I roamed the D (history) section of McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz, I spent an awful lot of time thinking about medieval Scandinavia. So much that I wrote a long, long paper on Viking/Scandinavian influences on medieval Irish art. (It wasn't very good.) So much that I taught a class called "Vikings and Medieval Scandinavia." (It was pretty good, and a hell of a lot of fun.) So much that I wrote another paper on a hypothetical excavation plan for a hypothetical thirteenth-century cemetery. (It was pretty good, too, despite the fact that my partner completely flaked out on me, grrrrr.) So much so that my purest and truest desire was to go to grad school and get my Ph.D. in medieval studies. I was primarily interested in the program at Cornell, though the Yale program was also pretty tempting, UCLA's had a great reputation (Jesse Byock! Rock on!) and the Stanford program was right in my backyard, figuratively speaking.
So, if I hadn't gone and gotten myself knocked up, I might well have become an Official Academic. I'd be spending my days surrounded by stacks of musty library books and mustier graduate students; my summers rifling through mustier-yet manuscripts in the collections of various universities in various far-flung exotic lands (York! Oooh!); my nights tap-tapping away on exhaustively well-researched fantasy/historical novels in the vein of Guy Gavriel Kay, which I would have to publish under a pseudonym so as not to taint my Serious Scholarly Reputation with something as low and tawdry as, y'know, popular fiction.
Also, I'd probably have more books, more cats and more of a drinking problem.
So what would you be doing, were you sprogless and fancy-free? Check out some other interesting responses here.
*Edited to add: Damn. It seems like I'm the only homeschooler in the whole wide world who wasn't really technically planning on having kids. Seriously. Wow. Do I feel like a bad parent now. Um... kids, if you're reading this, which you shouldn't be: even though I had no intention of having you, I'm sure glad you're here now. You guys rock. And you're probably way more interested in all things medieval than 94% of my undergrad students would've been anyway.
**Edited again to add a link to Janet D. Stemwedel's thoughts on the difficulty, or near impossibility, of simultaneously balancing motherhood and an academic career. I especially like this part:
My mom told me a story about going to her 20th college reunion some years ago. She was struck by how many of her classmates seemed only to be able to have two out of three at a time of career, marriage, and kids. The women with solid marriages and careers had opted out of having kids. The women with careers and kids seemed not to have been able to make marriages work. And the women with kids and happy marriages could maybe squeeze in a job, but nothing they described as a career.What do you think?