• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Title

ABCs and PhDs: Taking stock on my last six months as "½-time mom"

Here’s my weekday morning start: I wake up in time for about 10 minutes of quiet before the 45 minutes of frenetic activity of everyone getting ready for the day – breakfasted, dressed, brushed, packed, (sometimes a last minute homework assignment), shod, appropriately suited up for the weather – crescendos into a burst out the door and then, they are gone – my husband walks the kids into school on his way to work.

March 11, 2009
 
 

Here’s my weekday morning start: I wake up in time for about 10 minutes of quiet before the 45 minutes of frenetic activity of everyone getting ready for the day – breakfasted, dressed, brushed, packed, (sometimes a last minute homework assignment), shod, appropriately suited up for the weather – crescendos into a burst out the door and then, they are gone – my husband walks the kids into school on his way to work.

At the beginning of this school year, the thought of my house after 8am, suddenly silent for 6 hours at a time, was quite alarming for me. In fact, even while my youngest was in her 2-hour-a-day pre-school I had started worrying about the transition that full-day kindergarten would bring from full-time mommy to “half-time” mom and half-time something else (still figuring out what that is). With the impending deadline of “What are you going to do now, with so much time on your hands?” came a build-up of anxiety which I blogged on last September.
So, even before my daughter’s pre-school days were done, I leapt into a part-time administrative position in a biology graduate program at the university near by during much of her school hours, and when another appropriate, interesting research faculty job opportunity came along just before kindergarten started and I took it on too. Zoop - jobs expanded to fill in all my “kids-in-school” time. Now, taking stock six months later, here’s what I have:

  • Reasonable, enjoyable, part-time, career-oriented productivity – check.
  • Paycheck – check.
  • Progress on my book project -- zilch.
  • Progress on my grant proposal – a tiny little bit more than zilch

On those last two items, my own creative projects, I’ve gotten less accomplished than when I was momming full time. Now I work away in the evenings, keeping up on emails from work and collecting data, but never on my own projects, which I love and about which I have been thinking and writing (in snatches) from the beginning of my parenting years. Aaargh. Did I make a mistake? Did I jump the gun? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have the confidence to let myself have time to work on my own projects, without feeling the need for a formal job?

(Sort of obvious, in retrospect) conclusions:

1. When head-to-head in a limited amount of time, getting the work done for official jobs with external deadlines and expectations will win out over getting my own projects accomplished. I do enjoy my jobs. I still cherish having as much mom-time as I can, and I am committed keeping my work flexible for this reason. If I want to continue my other projects, I need to clear a space for them, too.

2. Transitions can be hard. But now that I have navigated this one, I feel more comfortable with clearing space for getting my own projects accomplished, and planning a future gift of time for myself – a sabbatical – when the next opportunity for transition comes along. One advantage to accepting a “non-traditional” academic lifestyle is that there is room for tweaking, which is nice, because life is always changing.

Read more by

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

Back to Top