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.