Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If you can't say something nice...

Usually I am delighted to discover that someone has linked to one of my posts, but for the second time a particular blogger has written a very negative attack of me on his blog. Since his comment policy is too blatantly delete anything that makes him look bad, I don't see much point in commenting on his post. But I will respond here to the post titled: "Science Woman committed to the demise of her kid." (No linking, he doesn't deserve the readership.)

The blogger (we'll call him "Bob") takes a selective quote from a post of mine from a few weeks back:
"Finding a home-based daycare (or any care, for that matter) on two weeks notice is *tough*. I called ~10 places this morning and found four *big* centers with openings. We’re touring them this week. We might just have to settle on something for now and continue to look for a smaller, better place as we can."
Bob claims that if he were a parent he'd be ashamed to admit such information. He goes on to say that obviously I just wanted a "toy kid so that she can play mother", that I am willing to treat my "kid like an animal", and that if he were my husband, he'd be a stay-at-home dad. Bob admits that he is neither married or a parent.

Well, Bob, you admit you don't know what you are talking about, so why do it?

But since you did, here's my reply:
  • If I wanted to "play" mother, I wouldn't have tried for 17 months to conceive, given birth without drugs, worked part time for the past six months, had no more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep for the last six+ months, or agonized quite so much about not being able to find the perfect childcare. (All of these stories can be found in my blog archives.) I love my daughter more than words can describe, more than I ever thought possible.
  • You assume that sending daycares treat kids like animals. Maybe the one your mom sent you to did, but the good daycares try really hard to give kids individual attention and love. They have well-trained staff, lots of toys, outdoor playtime, etc. It's hardly like throwing your child in a playpen for 8 hours a day.
  • You also implicitly assume that staying home with a child is the best care a kid can receive. And I think that I give my daughter pretty darn good care. But what about the 60% of 3 month olds who regularly watch TV or videos, despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of no TV until age 2? Those kids aren't watching TV in a daycare (it's usually against regulations); they're watching it at home.
  • You seem to fault me for settling on the best daycare I can find now, and continuing to look for a better place. What am I supposed to do? Ask the university to nicely push back the academic calendar because I haven't found a competent, experienced, loving nanny willing to work for less than a living wage?
  • You fault my husband for not staying home, because he's not "subservient enough" or we're not willing to "do without" [luxuries]. Both my husband and I are required to work by economic dictates; neither of us makes enough to support the whole family. We're not taking luxury cruises or buying new Mercedes; we're just talking about paying the mortgage and buying groceries.
  • When you fault my husband for not being subservient enough to be a stay-at-home dad, what you are really saying is that I, as the woman, should be subservient to my husband's career and should stay home with the kids. Barefoot and pregnant, I presume?
  • I can turn the other cheek, Bob, when you pronounce that I haven't got a shot at tenure because I'm a mother and I don't want to work more than 60 hours per week. But I can't stand that you would dare to assert that my husband and I don't have our daughter's best interests at heart when we make the agonizing decision over who to trust her with for 6-7 hours a day.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oh right, that's why routines are nice.

The last three days, Minnow has taken a two hour nap on her own. It's amazing how something as little as that can make such a big difference in my outlook. It gives me hope: that independent, predictable naps might become commonplace; that someday she'll sleep at night for more than 1.5 hours at a time (and in her crib for more than 25 minutes); that I haven't screwed her up completely by holding her for naps for most of the past six months. (She's just been put down for her second independent nap of the day. Will wonders never cease?)

I also found out what I am teaching this fall - an intro course with similarities to one I have taught in the past. It's a relief to know that I won't be prepping an upper-level course from scratch, including writing labs, in the next few weeks. Hopefully, I won't go overboard making my lectures too pretty, and will settle for keeping them interesting enough to keep students awake during the early morning time slot. If I can stick with that, I should have enough time to get my lab set up, write some proposals, and write some papers.

We are slowly digging out from the blizzard of boxes that arrived with the movers. During yesterday's nap, Fish and I got most of the kitchen put away, and during this morning's nap I shelved some books and filed some files. Maybe tomorrow I'll manage to pay our overdue second quarter taxes. (whoops!) We've discovered that a few things were left unpacked by the packers (how annoying), but by and large, most things seem to have survived the move pretty well. I only wish I'd had the time pre-move or post-move to do a lot of purging of stuff. For example, I am facing a box that says "office stuff." If I couldn't come up with a more descriptive label than "stuff," do I really need it. In any case, it's nice to have lamps, glasses, books, and chairs again.

Of course all of this domestic and professional tranquility will be upset in a few days when we find out when my mom's surgery is scheduled. Right now it's maddeningly up in the air, so I am just proceeding to make plans as if I weren't going to Midwest at all. I'll just have to change plans when I find out the surgery date. And that trip will of course disrupt the wonderous naps, house organization, and syllabi planning. But what can I do? (Yes, it has occurred to me that (my mom and) I are focusing on logistics of the next few weeks so we can avoid dealing with more emotional stuff.) I guess I can only hope that the surgery reveals a minute tumor and that routines (read: naps) re-establish themselves once we return.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mommy monday: dreadful news

I was in the middle of writing an entirely different mommy monday post, when my mother (ScienceGrandma) called.

She's got cancer and will have surgery within a week.

I volunteered that Minnow and I will be there for her as much as she wants us, up until my contract officially starts in mid-August.

She promised to call me when the surgery is scheduled. And then I'll buy the plane ticket.

This is, of course, terribly disruptive to my personal and professional plans for the next few weeks. But that doesn't matter at all, not when your mommy wants you to hold her hand when she goes into surgery and to be there for her when she convalesces.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mommy monday: random bullets of life in Mystery City

  • Still no furniture. I miss chairs.
  • We bought some new toys for Minnow the other day. Fish and I carefully picked out gender neutral toys for her - blocks and nesting cups. What did she pick from the shelf? A cement mixer. That's my girl!
  • We've now had two meals of "solid" food - Gerber Organic Rice Cereal. This morning (1/2 hour after the meal), the internets inform me that said cereal has been recalled because lumps in it may pose a choking hazard. Lovely.
  • I've really gotta find a natural foods store. I had an unopened box of Earth's Best Organic Whole-Grain Rice Cereal...but the movers have it.
  • Finding a home-based daycare (or any care, for that matter) on two weeks notice is *tough*. I called ~10 places this morning and found four *big* centers with openings. We're touring them this week. We might just have to settle on something for now and continue to look for a smaller, better place as we can.
  • My favorite reply from a daycare? "We have a short wait for that age group." "How long is a short wait?" "About 8 months."
  • We're definitely not in Utopia anymore. Mystery City is a sprawling metropolis full of every national chain you could wish (and a lot you wouldn't), and seemingly devoid of anything personal. But at least our neighborhood has walking trails.
  • Fish starts work today. So Minnow is all mine until 9 pm each night (and then really until about 7:30 am), so my resolution to eat healthier dinners is already out the window.
  • Our cable internet only appears to work on Fish's computer and not my laptop. They assure us that once we hook up the wireless, all will be well. Where's the wireless router? With the movers.
  • *sigh*

Friday, July 13, 2007

Don't use Allied movers

"Zen-like simplicity" is a phrase a friend used the other day to describe her material aspirations after moving caused her to realize how much stuff she owned.

Well, friend, we've got you beat.

Fish, Minnow, Princess Pup, and I are holed up in Mystery City for at least another 10 days with no furniture and $6000 less in our bank accounts thanks to the (in)competency of Allied Movers.

They promised delivery between the 12th and the 16th, but now are telling us the 24th. But, don't worry, they say, it might have been August 18th. Aren't you lucky, it's not!

Generous souls that they are, they're giving us $200 to cover expenses.

Lack of bed, table, desk, crib, sofa, etc. and the usual travel-and-baby induced cold have me feeling rather blue.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mommy Monday: Moving!

Today is our very last day in Utopia. Tonight we head to airport city and then Minnow and I fly to Midwest to stay with ScienceGrandma. Meanwhile, Fish and PrincessPup will speedily drive across the country and our furniture will *slowly* meander towards Mystery City. All will be reunited around mid-month.

Blogging will be sporadic at best, especially since I am hoping to go to super-secret location with no electricity, phone, or even runnng water (with a baby, crazy, I know.)

Once in Mystery City, I'll have a few weeks to figure things out (read: find *great* child care) and then it'll be time for adventures as an assistant professor.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I will not be a foregone conclusion.

Sometimes I get depressed when I read the blogs of other women scientists - particularly when the topic of children vs. an academic career is the topic du jour. The short version is that many of us seem to think we have two choices: (1) Have a career and no children, or children we never see; or (2) Give up our plans for t-t/research academia in order to raise a family. That we can't be both academic researchers and fantastic parents seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Well, I refuse to be a foregone conclusion.

In January, I was blessed with a wonderful daughter - a child that I had been aching for (and actively working toward) for years. I want to be an attached parent, one who knows what my child's interests are and what she had for lunch. I want to be there for bedtimes, games of pat-a-cake (and later, catch), and school plays.

In April, I got a job offer for a tenure-track position at a research university. I've been preparing for such a job for as long as I can remember. I want to get tenure, be a good mentor to students, teach interesting classes, conduct funded, intriguing research, and be a good colleague.

I'm having an incredibly good year, and it pains me when people suggest that I'll fail at one endeavor or the other. That I'll miss years of mealtimes and never have a weekend off, or if I do take time to be with my family, that I'll be unfunded, under-prepared, and untenurable.

That shouldn't be true. And I won't let such talk defeat me from the start.

I will work very hard and very efficiently at my job. I'll pour my heart into grant proposals and syllabi. But I'll also draw the line at some only-moderately-unreasonable number of hours per week (say, 50-60). It is equally important to me that I have the time to sing my daughter to sleep, make her mashed bananas for breakfast, and change the occasional poopy diaper.

If those things deny me tenure, then so be it. I will acknowledge that I could have done more, but defiantly reply that I shouldn't have had to.

I will not be a foregone conclusion. I will be a productive assistant professor. I will be an awesome mother. Just you watch.

Carnival time