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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

ABC's and PhD's: The Secret Lives of Soccer Moms
September 16, 2008 - 9:50pm

My kids have been playing soccer since they were 4 years old, and just this week, I found out that the mother of one of my youngest daughter’s teammates is an author of a novel. As we watched our 7-year-old daughters warm up before a game, I asked her what her novel was about. Being in the military. Turns out that she graduated from West Point, and had had a full military career before becoming an author and a full-time soccer mom of 5 soccer-star children, ranging in age from 18 to 7. Wow, I had no idea that she had gone to West Point. And I think that she has no idea that I have a PhD in science.

Funny how many of my kids’ teammates’ (and classmates’) parents do not know of my academic background. I do not brag. In some circumstances I cannot hide my science PhD background, like when I run the school’s Science Fair, or give a “lecture” to my child’s 4th grade class about global warming. But for the most part, my children’s friends’ parents think of me simply as another “stay-at-home” mom. Does this sometimes bother me? Yes. But I do not make my life’s decisions based on what others may think of me. Rather I follow my own inner compass – creatively finding ways to satisfy my hunger for intellectual stimulation and my desire to contribute academically, while simultaneously taking primary care of my children (i.e., driving them to soccer practices 5 days a week!)

There is a television show on TLC called “The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom” – usually not about true “soccer moms” per se. The premise is secretly to offer a full-time, stay-at-home mom (usually a somewhat dissatisfied one) who previously had a career, with an opportunity to spend a week in the job of their dreams. Meanwhile their families think that the women have been spending a week being pampered. Then after the week of working hard, the women fess up to their families and then are miraculously offered a wonderful full-time job opportunity in their chosen careers. I have only watched a few episodes, but it seems like roughly half of the women choose to forgo the offer and continue to stay at home with their families (often with a renewed appreciation for what they have), and the other half choose to accept the offer and return to work, beginning their foray into the juggling act of balancing career and family. If I were on that show, and someone were to offer me a full-time, tenure-track position at a university near my home, would I take it? Or would I continue to hodge-podge my academic life and drive my kids to soccer practice daily? Not sure. Now, if it were TENURED…


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