Scientist or Mother: My Split Personality
Why is it that it seems I can never really be comfortable in either of my two worlds?
By day, I work as a post-doc doing some pretty ground-breaking work on one of those cool research projects that you see on Nova. I love my work. The elation of finally getting an experiment to work. Probing, and then finally answering, questions that will lead to new discoveries and maybe even contribute to the welfare of society. More than this, educating those beneath me. Showing someone how to think through and experiment to get it to work right the first time (okay or maybe the second or third). To explore the unknown. These are my passions.
But in my field, there is always someone hungrier. I used to think that it was someone single who didn't mind flooding all of their time into their work. Someone who had nothing else, and therefore derived all satisfaction from work. But now, I see with new eyes. There are those who have families, children, sometimes young ones, who do not have the slightest problem with working strings of 12 hour days, or traveling to conferences for weeks at a time. Who are these people? They are simply people who want it more. And no matter how much I love my work, the thrill of discovery, or the beauty in the world around me that science can elucidate, they will always be there.
On the other hand, at night, I turn into super Mommy. My husband attends night school several nights a week. In many cases, I am responsible for putting two young children to bed, performing what chores I can, and staying sane. I am fortunate that my husband earns a good living. But this has been a mixed blessing. We live in a neighborhood that is affluent by all standards. Unfortunately, I have found that as the neighborhoods become more and more wealthy, the women are less and less likely to work. At my daughter's preschool, I would estimate that well over 80% of moms are stay-at-home. They get together for playdates and coffees. They have bakesales. They plan elaborate birthday parties. I simply cannot compete. On the weekends and the evenings, I find myself wishing that I had more time. More time to make that extra-special Halloween costume for my daughter (which by the way I wouldn't see anyway since I will be at a conference that day giving a talk). I wish I had more time to teach my daughter the songs that I learned growing up. To help her with her violin practice (which I have played all of twice in the last five years due to lack of time).
On both fronts I feel that I am missing something. I serve two masters, and I cannot give myself completely to either, and I wouldn't want to. But I am so tired of having to turn down a 5:30 meeting because I have to leave to meet the nanny, of carefully planning experiments so I don't have to work late or come in on weekends. I am so tired of turning down the upteenth invitation to do something at my daughter's preschool at 10:30 on a weekday. I am tired of other mommies asking me what I do and responding with "oh!" I am just tired.