Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Why being an academic can consume you

After almost a full month as a certified academic, I have been taking some time to reflect. One of the most interesting facets has been how closely being a professor parallels starting your own business. You have a limited amount of capital that must be divided between equipment, labor, supplies, and a rainy day fund. You have complete control of your product, but if no one buys it you will not succeed. You have complete control of your hours and how the job is executed.

It is this latter facet that has become meaningful for me recently. I have always strived to balance work and home. Having two kids while in grad school, this has at times been a delicate balance. Up until now I may have felt pressure or guilt to work more hours, but never desire. But now, I am so excited and enjoying what I am doing so much that it can be difficult to find my way home. I finally understand the professor who called his grad students at 3 AM from the TEM with 'awesome' results. Yet, I am past the point in my life where I can throw myself into my job; a balance must be maintained.

Today is my son's birthday. He turns 2. We spent the whole weekend celebrating with family and had a great time. Tomorrow I have the pleasure of bringing him to the dr for his 2 year check-up! I will also take the morning off to spend some time with him. With all the things I really, really want to get done at work this is hard. But you only turn two once.


At 4:21 PM , Blogger SciMom said...

You are spot on. Welcome to "our" world. As an academic faculty with a 4 and 2 year old, I am forever sacrificing an experiment or a lecture for a child-related activity or illness. Sometimes I yearn for the "hang out at the lab" days when I could run a gel at 10pm just to see the result. It will continue to be a difficult balance but sometimes, when it's not such an important day as a birthday, you have to feel free to "miss" something associated with your chilren's lives for the sake of yourself and your science, which you obviously love. My children are my first priority, and right now my career is taking a bit of a hit. But I manage to keep my science brain alive while relishing all the great milestones my children are passing. In the end, the juggling is all worth it! Good luck and I'm reliving my first lab set-up through your blog. Thanks

At 5:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Mom,
I came across your blog recently (via See Jane) and have just caught up to the present. I have enjoyed it greatly, particularly your ability to pull off parenthood in graduate school and post-doc. I am about to start my 4th year in grad school (sciences) and my husband and I are trying to conceive. While I remain terrified of the "I'm pregnant" conversation with my dissertation committee (whose reactions are likely to range from shocked to apoplectic), I draw comfort from those who, like you, went before. I look forward to following you on your first year on the job. Good luck!

At 3:47 AM , Anonymous tenurestressed said...

I am up in the early morning hours because I am a mother of two (girl age 8 and boy just turned 6) and am up for tenure NOW. I can relate to much of this blog but sounds like I have more teaching and advising on my plate. Anway, my tenure packets were just mailed out so everyone please keep your fingers crossed. Oh yes, and I also just submitted my latest manuscript so hopefully it will get accepted. I just found your blog tonight and am enjoying it!

At 1:28 AM , Anonymous Flicka Mawa said...

Hey, I'm just reading some old posts, so sorry for all the comments, but I like to leave thoughts on things that have reached me. I'm still only a grad student, and at this point, I still tend to feel the pressure or guilt to work more, but not the desire. Every once in a while I run a data analysis program at home to see what happens when I try out a new approach, but for the most part I don't even think about working as a desired activity when I'm not at work. I hope some day when I am a young professor I feel as you do about going to work!

At 1:46 AM , Blogger DJ and Kim said...

Hi Dr. Mom,

I wanted to leave you a general comment to commend you on the advice you are giving grad. students like me via this blog. I am a soon to be 4th year grad. student who just had a baby about a month ago. My dept. is not the most sympathetic towards my situation; therefore, everything has not worked out most favorable for me. However, I know my goal will always be to remain the best mom I can be for my baby girl and make sure I can provide her, my husband, and myself with the promise of finishing this degree. You have been inspiration to do just that and I want to say Thank you for it.


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