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, October 30, 2006

What we give up...

Well things are definitely improving. Last week my mother in-law visited, and for once it was a great visit. My nanny got married the previous weekend and she was here to sit the kids while my nanny was on her honeymoon. In the past when we've asked her to help out we needed someone to physically sit the kids, but otherwise we've been in good shape. This was the first time that we were literally hanging on by a thread before she arrived. I think she appreciated our situation and the difficulty that we are having just holding things together.

The day that she arrived my daughter had a violin lesson, which was terrible, the worst ever. She couldn't concentrate, she purposefully did the opposite of what she was asked. The instructor asked how we practice at home and I admitted that the nanny ran most practices as we don't really have time. He insisted that I need to practice with her at least 20 min. per day, since I was the one who plays violin and I attend her lessons. I almost started bawling right there. I simply do not have 20 minutes to do this, but I don't want my daughter to be punished because of my schedule. Its not her fault mommy and daddy are insanely busy. This situation sort of resolved itself. It turned out that my daughter's bad behavior was over excitement and not inattentiveness to practice. When I asked her to play for me the next day she was fabulous, but it illustrates my point...20 minutes really isn't a lot to ask, but I don't have it. It really is all I can do to get the kids through the monotony of get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to school, come home, make/buy dinner, eat, bath, books, bed. My husband is even more overwhelmed than I am with his B-school studies and is little help.

Thank god for mother-in-law. For one week, she fed the kids, did mounds of laundry, and basically gave me the reprieve that I needed to save my sanity. We have had our disagreements over the years, but I think when she saw how really in trouble we were, she stepped up and helped out beautifully. I should probably send flowers or something.

But this brings me to my point about what we give up to have both a family and an academic career. Of course this depends on your personal situation, whether your husband/wife also works, what kind of support you have/can buy, but here is my situation. I have not had a close friend in several years. I have friends at work, but making time to go out and have fun with someone when you can barely keep your underwear laundered just didn't seem the priority. I have my family and my husband and they have been my support, but now my sister lives far away and my husband is really tired of Pride and Prejudice (and Colin Firth movies in general). I am trying to branch out, for the first time in years. As my children get older, I have more time, but only incrementally. Most of the moms that I meet through them are stay at home and a little intimidated by me, but some aren't, and I am trying to connect with them. I am joining the faculty knitting club (but only when it meets before I have to go home and meet the nanny). I am trying. I haven't played a video game since my before my daughter was born. I have read about 10 books total in the last 5 years (although I have listened to several books on tape, which totally rocks). I have had time to practice my violin about once a year maybe twice. My husband and I had to stop dancing lessons, which we had taken for six years, because it got to insane for us when my son was born. I have about one date with my husband every six months (no time! and getting a sitter can be hard), but we watch TV/movies at home a lot.

There has been a lot of sacrifice in my life for my twin dreams. I love my children. Sometimes they annoy me, but they are my greatest accomplishments. I love my job, now moreso than ever. I hope that my discoveries and research can make a strong impact on society and I have the chance to train a new generation of scientists and engineers. I would still make the sacrifices, I would still do it. It is worth it. I just wish it wasn't quite so hard.


At 4:07 PM , Blogger Andrew said...

Work-life balance ... will we ever get it right? Good luck!

To Love, Honor and Dismay

At 10:36 PM , Blogger SciMom said...

You and I live much the same life. When I'm asked what I want for my birthday, I can no longer think of something for me. I can only remember that my daughter needs tights and my son has grown out of his shirts. All my hobbies have gone by the wayside. I mourn them often and that life I had before. I miss the travel with my job and the loss of "prestige" I have sacrificed in my career for following my husband's career. But then I know that what's most important is giving my children the best opportunities in life. So as long as I don't completely disappear in the process, it will al be worth it.

At 6:59 PM , Blogger fashiongirl said...

MOmmy this mommy that...I can't handle it anymore, I passed my dreams up for this to be a slave to my husband and kids while he makes money and recieves awards and I get nothing in return but a house over my head. I am not living the rest of my life in a lie I went to school to be successful in life , yeah I loved him and wanted to get married but the pregnancy think was not exactly planned. The day I found out I was suprised and scared i was only 22 years old and a senior in college and the only fun that i had was kissing a boy before I was married. Ever since then I feel like God has punished me to raise these kids and stay home. I left my husband and kids because I coould no longer take all the responsibility without harming myself I hated my life with him he is a electrical engineer and i guess that is what drawned me to him and he was smart. Now looking back I could have been just as smart but I let love get in the way of my personal growth and dreams. To those moms that love it all power to you but I will never again sacrifize myself for anyone else again...



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