Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

January 16, 2013 - 6:28pm
Well, I successfully dropped off my son Nick for his first day of college. If you’ve been following my column (and his), you will know that my son was a “high school burnout” who took some time off before college.  Discovering that he was bored silly with the minimum wage working world, Nick conceded to apply to a local state school. He moved into a dorm last Sunday and started classes at 8:00 am on Monday (which happens when you register late.)
January 15, 2013 - 8:00pm
As a kid, I remember being fascinated by the idea that all my cells regularly die and get replaced over an interval of several years, that at age 10 my body was all different from the body I was born with: what did this mean about who I was? We know even more about cell turnover now - I just looked up human cell longevity, and studies using modern cell dating techniques show that the cells in our body average about seven years of age (except for most brain cells, which survive our whole lives with stable wirings, perhaps answering my question of my identity also being stable, I guess).
January 14, 2013 - 4:39pm
It’s the first day of my new semester, and as always I am scrambling just a bit. Two syllabi done, one almost so. And I put my daughter on the plane this morning to return for her last semester of college. While college is cyclical for me, it’s linear for her, which is tough for me to grasp after all these years. Looking over her commencement weekend schedule during the break, she commented, “There’s always been more school. It’s weird to think there won’t be.”
January 13, 2013 - 6:43pm
Last Friday, Ben called me at work. I answered with some trepidation, because 1) he knows not to call me during supervision hours unless it is an emergency, and 2) he never calls, only texts.
January 10, 2013 - 8:45pm
When I first tried to teach my daughter division, I taught her to ask how many objects she could allocate evenly among a given number of piles of that object. For example, if you wanted to make six piles of marbles, how many marbles would end up in each pile if you began with twenty four marbles?  I found myself thinking of this recently, as I remembered frequent carpools for teenage excursions, often heading towards the Southern part of my home state, Connecticut. I would meet up with friends to allocate those of us without cars among a set number of cars driven by friends.
January 8, 2013 - 7:23pm
Since moving to one of the most expensive housing markets in North America eight years ago, we’ve had to learn to cram ourselves into small living spaces.  Before our relocation, we lived in a 3-bedroom house with basement, deck, front porch, and backyard on a tree-lined street, which we traded in for high-density living--an 850 square-foot condo with a tiny balcony in an apartment complex.  We were two adults, two toddlers, and two cats sharing a cramped space. After a few years we scaled up a bit, but we are still pressed for room.
January 7, 2013 - 7:30pm
As most readers of IHE probably already know, there’s been a little bit of a controversy over the past few days about a  “study” purporting to find that the job of university of professor is the least stressful job in America. Scott Jaschik usefully summarizes the original study (by Career Cast), the piece in Forbes that seems to have drawn the most ire, and the various responses—and, of course, his piece has generated even more responses in the form of comments on his article. I’m struck, as always, by the widespread misconceptions about what it is, exactly, that university professors do—even, apparently, among readers of IHE.
January 6, 2013 - 2:11pm
Our family spent the week between Christmas and New Year's traveling, as we try to do every year. This is partly because, since my mother died, we have no family nearby, and so have no fixed celebration ritual, and partly because it is cheaper to travel when no one else wants to.
January 3, 2013 - 8:01pm
When I was in grammar school, I used to say that I wanted to grow up to be an archeologist. Having not yet discovered Economics, I could not think of any other way to combine my love of social studies, math and science all at once. Had I pursued that line of study, I hope that I would have had some intelligent things to say about the idea that the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world on December 21, as did others. Since that day has come and gone, I think it is safe to say that any predictions based on those calendars foretelling the end of the world as we know it were incorrect. Now that we know that the world is not ending quite yet, I want to share some thoughts on what we did not lose on December 21, 2012, as the New Year unfolds.
December 20, 2012 - 6:44pm
When I teach Calculus, I often begin by comparing the difference between Calculus and Discrete Math to the difference between the individual frames of an old-fashioned movie tape and the movie when shown on a projector. I tell them that, while algebra and all of discrete math looks at individual situations, or “frames”, Calculus can study a world of continuous motion. This analogy has been on my mind lately as I find myself recalling scenes from past holidays with my daughter. Individually interesting, they run together into a “movie” of emotions that grabs me at this time of the year.

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