Monday, July 31, 2006

Am I doing anything well?

I've been waiting to be struck by creative lightning to write something interesting on my blog. In the meantime, I've been reading a lot of blogs lately about women scientists and their careers, challenges, accomplishments etc. I've shared some of these women's experiences, some are different than mine. I feel like there is a community of women out there that I have a lot in common with and yet at the same time I feel completely isolated. Then it hit me. That's what been bothering me lately. I feel alone at sea in my own complex world of science and motherhood. I moved to my current position about 1.5 years ago and I made a calculated decision to "sign up" for a part time academic research faculty position to allow for my husband's career to flourish but also to take the time to get my youngest the physical and occupational therapies that she needs. It was a calculated decision for all the right reasons. So why the glum face?
I don't know anyone like me. I'm 45 year old associate professor level scientist, and an older parent with a 4 year old and a 2.5 year old. I'm part time but really, let's not kid ourselves, there's no doing part-time science. I'm at work a lot more (by my own choice) because I don't want to disappear from the scientific world that I love and gain so much energy from. And yet, I don't feel a part of my department. I didn't interview for the position; it was just created. I'm the wife of the recruit. I don't publicize my part-time status. It makes me feel like an impostor - someone who doesn't possess the ability to be academically successful full time while having young children. I don't have anyone in my lab now except a technician whose leaving. I'm the only hands on my project and I'm just trying to make slow and steady progress. I think there must be very few people who know what it feels like to try to do science with little money, no extra hands and little support or interest from others, especially in this era of limited governmental funding. I'm my own motivator, my own creative director, my own data generator. The energy tank is getting low.

Then there's the Mommy me. I have the responsibility of the two children every morning. I get them up, feed them, dress them, get all of their preschool "stuff" together and get them to their respective schools. Some mornings it takes all my energy to accomplish just the above. And I especially hate Mondays because of all the nap linens and swim stuff that accompanies the usual packs and such. When I get to work, it feels like it should be "me" time! I just want to sit down and have a nice cup of coffee and a muffin and browse the internet.

Then it starts again in the afternoon. I pick up the kids. I never know what I will get but often I get whining about stopping for a donut or arguing over what CD to play (yes I did say the kids are 4 and 2.5 years old). I get home in time to start dinner. I used to enjoy cooking. Now it's just a chore. Two picky eaters sap the fun out of trying new things. Sometimes the play in the next room gets loud and rowdy and I resent it. It's been a long day and my experiment didn't work! I yell and then I feel bad. How come I took this part time position to be a better parent and now I'm losing it over some loud screaming in the play microphone?

When the kids are finally in bed and asleep, I see all the laundry and picking up and next day preparation that needs to be done. If I choose to sit down to watch a show on TV, I may not get up again. Then I feel like I've wasted my precious night hours. Finally, I flop exhausted into bed at the end of the day and wonder if I feel like I'm failing at work AND I feel like I'm not being a good parent, what the heck am I doing?

See this just turned into a bitching session..... I knew I didn't have anything worthwhile to add to my blog.


Gail DeCamp said...

Hang in there. It DOES get better, I promise!

-grad student

Andrew said...

The best blogs I've run across are those with a focus. The "here is what happened in my day" blogs can be incredibly valuable for their authors as journals, motivators, ways to keep in contact with family & friends etc., but may not be as popular for reading material for a widespread audience. As an example of the "focus" type of blog, please accept my invitation to follow my name link back to "To Love, Honor and Dismay." And I agree with Gail, you will get there!