Friday, March 9, 2007

Do I even want "it all"?

I sent an email to a professor a couple of days ago to ask how she balances having kids (I knew she had twins and she has a baby Charlie's age) with her tenure-track faculty job. She asked me to stop by her office during office hours yesterday, so I went in eagerly expecting some great advice and maybe even a little sympathy.


So first of all, she has FOUR kids (two four year olds, a two year old, and a four month old). Somehow she crams all her work into three days a week so she can stay home the other two days (and she is very successful as a researcher and professor. national awards-successful). She has less childcare hours per week than I do (although she does have a housekeeper once a week and someone who makes her family homemade meals a couple of times a week).

Some good points:

(1) I am still hormonal and need to push through that because I will feel like my old self in four or five months. Do not make any big decisions right now.

(2) As a woman I am in demand for engineering positions and should have no trouble finding a job if I want one (one of her former students [who is a year older than me and has three kids, a Ph.D., and a faculty position... well la-dee-fricking-da] interviewed for jobs during months seven and eight of pregnancy and got multiple offers. Personally I don't know how it would be possible to behave properly in an interview situation during months seven and eight of pregnancy. Interviewer: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Me: "Do you mind if I take off my shoes? Ow, crap! The baby just punched me in the ovary").

(3) A Ph.D. will give me much more flexibility than I would have if I didn't finish.

I left the meeting all fired up and ready to finish my dissertation, get a great job, and live happily ever after, the model of a modern woman with one foot in the working world and another in the family world (with a small personal staff to fill in the gaps). Um. Maybe.

Mostly what I took away from the meeting is that my doubts have nothing to do with Charlie. I think I just have normal grad student hatred for the dissertation process. And according to Dr. Advisor, that is how it is supposed to be.

In other news, Charlie's head is infinite in its largeness (and, of course, cuteness):


"The better to solve differential equations with" he says.

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