Drove up to the old town for a couple of meetings. I left Sunday right after church and was feeling very ambivalent about getting in the car to drive for six hours so I could attend a meeting I was very stressed about instead of driving the kids home and wrapping up in quilts to watch Charlie Brown Halloween while the rain fell outside. At that moment (and the next two hours of driving through rain in an unfamiliar car), I thought working while the kids are small might not be the way to go.
But I forced myself to keep driving and eventually the sun came out and a really hilarious small town classified ad show came on the radio and I got some cookies at Subway and drove through a wind farm and suddenly I was having a good time again.
The trip got even better when I got to my friends' house and held their cute little toddler and we all went out for a wonderful Italian dinner with more friends and great food and chianti. We went back home and sat in the living room after dinner, working on our laptops all three of us, watching a football game. JUST LIKE HOME. Except with no bedtime. Glorious!
I enjoyed preparing my presentation. It was satisfying to revise my paper. It felt good to stay up late working on something I enjoy. Long-term goals, perseverance, working through a challenging problem--a different kind of challenging problem than I usually have (how do you make a kid stop peeing off the top of the swing set?)--it was great.
And the meeting, which I was completely intimidated by, went well (despite a fitful night of sleep filled with anxiety dreams by proxy about kindergarten). I did my presentation and answered questions and did not once sound as stupid as I often feel when talking with people who get to do research full time. Dr. Advisor said my presentation was well organized and good. We talked through some weird results I've been getting and during the conversation it hit me. I'm not the only one having trouble understanding this! It's a real research problem! Not understanding does not always equal stupid!
Do you know how many years it's been since I haven't felt stupid in a research meeting? A lot of years. Life-changing.
Also life-changing? A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that I am no longer limited to two servings of caffeine a day since James hasn't nursed in over a year. PARTY ON GARTH. I had a silo of tea with my lunch.
With my resting heart rate in the 130s, my afternoon meeting was just as productive and affirming and interesting. I got lots of good direction on another project I'm starting (And talked about it! INTELLIGENTLY! It's a Christmas miracle!) and got to meet some other members of the research group. Several of them had families. Families were discussed! Openly! The head of the research group talked about how much her so likes Wild Kratts! Just awesome. I have no words. I loved it.
So yes, I now have two research projects. And three classes. And the kids. And the high-need dog. Oy.
It has taken me a very long time to start feeling like my old pre-kid self again. Every once in a while I get a taste of the drive I used to have. The motivation, the ability to keep multiple pieces of the puzzle in my head at once without one of them getting knocked aside by a different thought (OMG I FORGOT TO TAKE BACK THE REDBOX AGAIN!). Meetings like these help so much and I really wish this kind of discussion and feedback was part of my real life. It was so exciting to talk about my work with people who understand it. So exciting to be near all those interesting books.
Still, when it was over, I ran to my car and drove like a crazy person so I could get home in time for bedtime. When I pulled in the driveway Ryan and the kids were still sitting in the car after getting home from Dads and Kids Pizza Night at Charlie's school. The kids swarmed me. Ryan looked like a deer in the headlights. I herded everyone up the stairs to brush teeth and flung my dress pants and shirt into the closet and put on the stretchiest pants and comfiest t-shirt I could find. We snuggled on Charlie's bed and read books before lights out, then I had dinner and three desserts. Soon I'll be tucked into bed reading Little Women. So good to be home.