I am a scientist and I am a parent. Even more, I am a parent of more than one child, and I don't even have tenure yet! As a student, the received wisdom was that parenthood is incompatible with professorship (unless you are the absentee parent sort). People who wish to attempt otherwise should ONLY do it post-tenure, and of course more than one child shows you like commitment. The path of my life ended up violating all of this received wisdom, and yet I am satisfied and still here.
Being a parent and a scientist has been a great combo for me. My kids have a wonder about them that touches all aspects of my life. In parenting them, I have learned to be patient in explaining things, to expect off-the-wall questions, and to enjoy the awesomeness of our world. I think this has made me a better teacher in my classes.
In my career, being a parent forces me to be more efficient. I can't surf for hours a day, because I can't work between 5 and 8 or 9 pm every evening, so I need to make my work time count. At National Lab, I became much more productive after the arrival of Little Prodigal#1. Even more, having this enforced time away from my work helps me return to it with fresh eyes after the kids are asleep.
Yes, it can be hard to balance kids, work, marriage, and personal time, but how many things in life that are worthwhile are also easy?
Thanks to Gerty-Z for her post on this topic pointing me to the #scimom project started by David Wescott.
RIP Nelson Mandela
11 hours ago