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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

ABC’s and PhD’s: Lost - a sense of humor
June 19, 2012 - 3:01pm

My daughter said recently, “Mom does still have a tiny sense of humor, it’s just buried deep down inside the momness.” As we finished off the semester and are preparing for our move across the country in August, there is always just too much to squeeze into a day, leaving much stressful unfinished business that seems to get done only just before it absolutely needs to. In these times, you need to remember to laugh, and I thank my daughter for reminding me.

Sometimes it’s good to take stock of what you have done, rather than worrying about what’s not done.  Although many things have slipped lately, here are some productive things that have happened in the last three weeks:

  • We did an awesome job packing up our house in preparation for our move across country in August.  A long-avoided chore turned out to be one of the highlights for me: tackling the 15 boxes that have sat, untouched, on shelves in the basement since our last move right after I finished grad school; boxes holding the unsorted and hurriedly-packed contents of my small graduate-school office.  With trepidation I scraped off the dust and opened them up… and was swept back to my twenties.  Sprawled on the dirty basement floor, I luxuriated in reviving my forgotten grad school life through old correspondence, lab, travel, course notes, pictures, edited versions of my writings, scientific papers with my notes scrawled in the margins, and my old presentations from conferences (written out long-hand).  I was then finally able to dump much of it, winnowing down my collection to just three boxes of the “good stuff” which, one day in the far distant future I’m sure I will thoroughly enjoy again.
  • At the request of my dad, I put together a rudimentary website for a family reunion planned for August.  I’m gradually accruing web “programming” skills.  Unlike writing and other work tasks that can drag on and on, I find I can learn a new website building tool with almost instantaneously gratifying results.  It’s the kind of project, though, that can keep you up until 2 in the morning if you let it (which I did one night).
  • We’re at the end of a great week-long visit with my parents, before heading out to do our usual marine biology station summer research gig.  During this time, we have effectively entertained the kids despite the fact that they are without friends or beloved pets.  They enjoyed their 2-year-old cousin, played in the ocean, and visited an amusement park, museums, and some good restaurants. Fortunately, the kids are also happy to play games on the iPad and watch movies as they decompress from a busy semester, allowing my husband and me to squeeze in necessary bits of work time.  The week has gone fast and it’s almost time to move on – Thursday we’ll take Amtrak overnight from LA to Seattle.  Trains are great for slowing down time.
  • I am up on all the real-estate listings for our new town (inventory is discouragingly slim).  My husband flew out to see some homes, but nothing is right.  I keep telling myself that something good will come up, and soon we’ll be in the area so we’ll be able to jump on it.  Things will feel better once we have a new home.

We bought a joke book, and the kids have been telling jokes.  Here are two that I liked:

 1.  What did the fish say when he hit a wall?

 2.  What has its bottom at the top?

 Here’s to keeping tabs on your sense of humor through the changes that summer and life can bring.

 (answers:  1. Dam! 2. legs)

 

 

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