Friday, April 29, 2011

Sneaking in at the end of the month (#scimom)

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.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear this. I'm a very very new parent and feel the same way. I've had to seriously adjust my schedule. Previously I pretty much just worked all the time unless I was asleep. Now I've had to really crunch my hours into 9-6 with optional extra evening time. The forced daily time off for a few hours is actually good. I get to "reset" and when I do go back to work am more likely to be very productive.

Anonymous said...

Have the kids post-tenure... what a fantasy. More parent-scientists please!

Anonymous said...

but how many things in life that are worthwhile are also easy?

Agreed 100%.

gerty-z said...

thanks for joining in!

prodigal academic said...

Thanks for the comments!

Given the reality that there is no "best" time to have kids, I actually think (in retrospect) that during the PhD or at the beginning of the TT are pretty decent times to have kids, since the child(ren) will be older and more independent at tenure tour time. Also the parents will be younger, which is better for lack of sleep stamina and fertility.