Monday, September 26, 2005

reply to a well-thought out comment...


First, I did not mean to suggest that these women were casually choosing to stay home. Reading back over my post, I used the word "flippant" to describe the assumption that pregnancy would occur easily at the time they desired it to. Having made that assumption myself, I am learning the hard way that babies have a way of arriving when (and if) they want. As far as trying to figure out wehter to stay home with kids or not, I know this is an incredibly hard decision. So far I've found that the decisions surrounding when to have a child and how to balance this with my chosen career have been much much much harder than the other big decisions in my life (e.g. who to marry, where to go to college, what to pursue after college). Not that those decisions were easy, but this has been agonizing.

Second, of course there are differences between those of us whose moms worked and those who had stay-at-home moms. I desperately wanted to be on the swim team in elementary school and my single mom simply did not have the bandwidth to drive me to practices in the evenings and the summer. Nor did I have home baked cookies waiting for me when I got off the bus. And my mom was always tired and occasionally crabby. But I did get to grow up with the role model of an incredibly strong, professional, scientific, woman and the lessons (good and bad) that I learned from her have been a fantastic advantage for me so far. I think my ride through college and grad school would have been significantly harder had I not had her footsteps to follow (or avoid). But the problem I had with the article was that these women seemed to be saying that they were better off because their moms stayed home (or, conversely, worked). And I don't know how you can objectively weigh the advantages of one or the other. I guess I should be glad that these women were proud of the choice their mothers made and wanted to follow their path. Just as I am.

Finally, you're right (as always!). I do believe that women have a stronger bond with their children then men do. I think our genes code for it more than men's do. I guess I just wish that men would rebel a bit more against their "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" genes and play a greater role in raising their children and helping with household responsibilities. If by choice (as in this article) or by economic dictates, a woman is in the workforce, then I think her partner really should pick up more of the responsibility for the kids. Again, I think my perspective is totally colored by my own experiences. I would love to be able to have the choice to stay home or work part time once I have kids, but we'd starve. I love my husband, but his breadwinning skills are hard to depend on. So to make the best of the situation, I am plowing through graduate school and heading into a field where 60+ hr workweeks are de riguer for the years that I'll have young children. And I think I'm just scared that at the end of a long work day, I'll be the one to pick up the kids from day care, heat up the dinner and do the dishes and laundry afterwards. And I don't think I'm the only young professional woman that wakes up in the middle of the night wondering what she's gotten herself into.


Writer Chica said...

I never thought of it that way, but when to have kids and whether to work or stay home really is the hardest decision ever. So much depends on it and either way it takes a lot of work. Choosing when and whom to marry was way easier!

I found the article (duh! I can't believe I didn't notice the great big highlighted title) and it sure was an interesting read. I'm amazed at all the information/articles you are finding on these subjects. This women did seem a bit casual about the whole thing. They seem to be forgetting that "It is nice to think you have your life planned out, but it doesn't always go as you planned."

My mom had so many issues that it hurts my brain to try to figure out how she influenced any of my work/stay home choices. Actually, I am amazed I went into science at all considering I had no role models.

I am so blessed the my husband enjoys his work and thank God it pays decent. And he is a great dad. However even my sweet, mild husband and I require a great deal of communication to make this work. He is just a touch absent-minded which makes it really difficult on me sometimes. We have gotten in more arguments/discussions about household/childcare responsibilities than anything else. Communication is constant and essential.

Dear ScienceWoman, I also wanted to let you know that depending on where you and your family end up, I would be thrilled to help out in any way. (I would love watching you kids). Just so you know.

PhD Mom said...

I just saw your site, thanks to the new google blogsearch tool, and wanted to welcome you to the sisterhood of the pink labcoats. I was married when I started grad school, had my first child after my masters, and my second the day after my defense, no joke! I am now a postdoc, although I have a position lined up for next year as an asst. prof. I am really looking forward to it.

Many of the things that you have hit upon are similar to points that I have made in my blog.

I signed up for the childcare wait list as soon as I found out that I was pregnant. I was still on the waitlist three years later when I graduated. Student daycare, my other option, was part time only. It was designed for undergrads with a few hours of classes a week, not grad students who need 9-5 care (at least). I ended up getting a nanny. My ENTIRE salary (not just 50%) went to childcare, but I thought it was a good investment for the long run.

I have encountered a little bit of predjudice and a little bit of disbelief about my having kids in grad school. The other day I got a call from a female faculty member at another school. We were talking about my position starting next year and she asked why I chose that university. I told here it was because the pressure seemed less and that I had two kids to think about. She was absolutely stunned.

I don't see what is so surprising about having kids in your late 20's. I mean a lot of people do it. I agree with you that talking about childcare like that is the only problem facing women faculty is a little naive. I mean I have childcare, but I am a lot more concerned about things like MY availability to spend time with my children. I want to attend ballet recitals, violin lessons, and even gymboree. Why don't we have part time appt for faculty and postdocs? I think that universities need to give a long, hard thought to what family-friendly tenure policies really are. It's not just about lactation rooms.