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.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another sacrifice of Dr. Mom

I know I talked about this in one of my previous posts, but it is bothering me again. One of the greatest sacrifices that I have made to have both career and family is the sacrifice of my time, and particularly outside friendship. This is coming to light because I am in the middle of a disagreement in my family, and it strikes me that right now they are my major support. Although I am fairly extroverted, I have always found it difficult to form friendships that extend beyond work. For one thing, my time is so limited I can hardly keep my head above the water, making time for a weekly or even monthly girls night out feels selfish.

But another problem, at perhaps a deeper level, is that I often feel that I intimidate others, particularly the parents of other kids at school/preschool. As soon as I describe what I do, even in the most rudimentary form (i.e., I teach at the university), people are intimidated. It's not that I broadcast these activities, but what kind of work do you do is always a question that gets brought up somewhere in the initial conversations. Not to mention that my nanny does most of the child transporting so parents know that I work outside the home and are curious about what kind of work that is.

This, I think, as made me a little shy, and for the last several years I have had few close friends, and those I do have are directly involved in academics. I know that I should get more involved, especially in kids activities as this is a natural talking point, but I am always a little nervous about this. I guess I need to pluck up a little courage and make a little time and go for it.

11 Comments:

At 4:02 PM , Anonymous far away said...

I really enjoy your writing, and sane approach to both personal academic life. I have recently finished my PhD, and starting my career, with two kids (and a husband). I do not really understand, why is it a problem to tell what you are doing? my son was very proud to tell everyone in his kindergarten that his mother researches proteins. Although most people do not understand what this means, it sounds OK, and even cool (especialy coming ffrom a five year old). Is it very uncommon for women to have careers or full time jobs where you live? Most of my kids' freinds have working moms, since I meet them when I pick them up, we are the "late comer moms"..
Although I live in another continent, I don't think the "ehat to you do" question should stop you from talking to people. And if you can spare an hour a week for some activity for your self, you could meet some people and talk. I know that I come from a very out-going society, and things could be more complicated elsewhere, but people are usually very positively curious when hearing about new occupations, especially those that people think can "help man kind". Good luck!

 
At 2:54 PM , Blogger EcoGeoFemme said...

My non-academic friends are my favorite ones because they provide a reality check. It took a little time to develop the relationship though because we had to work a little to find common interests. I bet there is an accountant mom or engineer mom that you could find common ground with pretty quickly. Besides, we all have the same people problems at work. I find that the things I want to talk about regarding my job are the same as my realator friend and decorator friend.

 
At 3:52 PM , Anonymous another dr mom said...

Oh, I know just what you mean. I have one mommy friend who ALWAYS has to mention that I have a PhD and she doesn't. I have another mommy friend who never ever asks me about my job. I've had women look and me and say, "oh, you're too smart for me to talk, too." I never know how to answer that one. I have a secret desire to agree with them.

 
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