A couple nights ago, Gail asked “Am I absolutely crazy to be thinking it’s great we’re going to have a baby because then I don’t have to work this summer?” Of course, she meant her paid work of being a math professor, and I’m sure she has conveniently forgotten the work of parenting a newborn, let alone newborn and toddler.
But I’m guilty of the same fantasizing.
Between now and June, I’m a bit under the gun at work. If all goes well, by June I will have polished off a paper that’s almost through review, prepared and presented a conference poster, resubmitted the very important grant that will permit me to keep my job past next year, submitted a paper, and maybe done some supporting second/third author work for another project. Summer home with a newborn sounds like a vacation.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my work (I’m a post-doctoral fellow, doing research at the interface of math and biology), semi-frequent career crises aside. It is really interesting. I get to work with really personable and smart people all day. My two bosses are fine that I take a day home per week with Leigh (one of them does the same with her kids) and no one is looking over my shoulder. On the other hand, I work with several people who think about nothing but scientific research 24/7 and really think that everyone should do the same, there is a lot of pressure to perform, I’m at a very do-or-die stage of my research career that most people would say is an awful time to have young kids and you’d better believe it’s weird to be pregnant around here. (I really don’t know what it’s like for women who say they get pestered with pregnancy questions endlessly. I think everyone here just prefers not to think about it.) In many ways, the tradeoff for academic flexibility is constant academic guilt. I do OK keeping it at bay, much better than I used to, but I am looking forward to having a really great reason not to think about math or science anything for a couple months. If it works anything like when Leigh was born, I’ll be more than ready to do science again, and do a better job of it, after a baby interlude.
Just don’t remind me right now what a newborn is really like. I’ve blocked it out. Let me fantasize and exploit my conveniently selective memory for a little bit.