“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

With Valentine’s Day still in the back of my mind, I need to answer Harp’s question:

I’ve always herard that women face a difficult 2 out of 3 choice: Mother, Wife, Career. It is said you can only do 2 of them well. Yet you seem to be the exception.

Thoughts?

First – thanks for the vote of confidence.  It has been noted and greatly appreciated.

Second – not to shatter your image of me, but I am SO VERY NOT the exception.

Like just about every other American woman, I juggle those things, and more.  But, like any juggler, at any given time, a maximum of two of those things are firmly in hand.  The others are flying somewhere out in space, and I only hope that I aimed them well enough to catch back up with them when they come around.

I can only do about two of those things well at once – the key is that you have to rotate which two at any given time and fervently pray that it all averages out.  It’s a constant series of compromises.

I picked my current career because it allows me to dedicate time to my family.  I would have dearly loved to accept an assistant professorship at a research/teaching institution, but I had to be able to do it with the understanding that the intense long hours meant that family and marriage would take a back seat for the duration of the tenure race, if not longer.  I am just not willing to make that kind of sacrifice.  I make sacrifices for my current job (the travel being one), but they are shorter-term sacrifices, and I have a bit more flexibility to compensate.  As a scientist, I am not considered “successful”.  I am a corporate hired gun, with all the negative connotations that go with that.  But I make a comfortable income, and I can play with my kid most nights, and take the odd trip with the husband, so I can live with that.

In a compromise to my career, I waited to have kids until I was finished with school.  Two undergraduate degrees (during part of which I had to work full time) , my PhD and most of my Post-doc.  Unfortunately, this was one area where I didn’t balance well and we almost never had Harry (a world without Harry?  Blasphemy!).  And now we are limited to one.  On the plus side, I think the 40-something-year-old me is a far better mom than the 20-something-year-old me could have ever been.  This does not mean I am perfect.  I have to leave on business trips.  Harry is in daycare 7 hours every day.  I tire faster than I did at 20.  But when he needs me, I am there.  When we are together, his needs come first.  I am conscious of the passage of time, and I realize that the moments I spend with him are finite and fleeting, and I cherish them. 

Which means, I am not always the wife I could be.  I cannot even describe the intensity to which motherhood took over my brain in Harry’s first days.  The nurses couldn’t pry him from my arms. I don’t think his butt hit the bassinet more than twice the entire hospital stay.  I still tend to drop everything when he calls.  I thank heaven that I am married to someone who is as “into” daddyhood, because I think he would have lost patience long, long ago.  Sometimes the constant demands of a baby-turned toddler make me worn down and short-tempered.  Well-planned gourmet meals have taken second place to whatever is fastest to get on the table in the evening.   Until Valentine’s Day we hadn’t had a real date in years.   I have to work now to pull Kris to the forefront of my life and give him his turn.  I ironically understand the term “planned spontaneity”.  And now, sometimes Harry has to wait in line.

We all juggle.  And we all pray that somewhere down the line we don’t drop the ball.

February 20th, 2008 at 11:43 am
3 Responses to “Juggling as fast as I can”
  1. 1
    jodi Says:

    What a post!

    You put into words exactly how I feel most days, every day. And I “only” work part-time!

  2. 2
    Ulrich Says:

    It is amazing to me when anyone can juggle all of the things required to be a parent a spouse and have a career. (lets not even consider if they decide to have a crazy time consuming hobby!) Regardless of whether they be male or female.

    kudos to you for your success so far, and well wishes to you for your success in the future.

  3. 3
    Harp Says:

    Wonderfully answered!