Evening Tea

Finally, after spending every waking minute together today, the child is off to bed and it is blessed solitude. So quiet. I puttered around the kitchen tidying up and then made a cup of tea - and now comes the moment when I can just sink into myself and make the important decisions, read? movie? read stuff on the internet? Ah. The pets are asleep too. After terrorizing each other all afternoon. It turned out to be a nice day. It was off to a rough start, at 4:30AM with said child waking up sick. But, after lazing around in pj's all day, by early afternoon she was feeling better and we were able to get out and enjoy the sun a bit. Take the dog to campus to get some library books. All in all, it turned out fine. Just what I wanted anyway, no chores, no work, no plans.

It just seems lately that every weekend, our every moment is planned. And it's usually very fun stuff, farmer's market and brunch, meeting friends out, and lately it's been climbing competitions, renting a cabin in the woods and fancy parties. Very fun stuff. But, so often it's back to the work week feeling that not much of a respite was had. Laundry's not done so the morning's are spent hunting for socks and uniforms, grocery shopping's not done so lunches are packed with strange things and dinners are ordered out too much. A balance is what I'm always striving for in parenting. In life. Unfortunately, being a working parent- you just can't give 100% to everything, it's 20 here and 30 there, 50 or even 75 is heroic, and usually exhausting. It's easy to feel down, especially when surrounded at work by people who can give 100% and still have time for leisurely late dinners and trips to the gym. It's easy to start to hate them, frankly.

But I'm okay with the fact that I'm not going to get a nobel prize. Or probably even a brief footnote in an intro textbook. That's okay, to me that's not what science is about anyway. But it is discouraging sometimes to feel like you are doing all of these jobs, but doing none of them well. A grumpy wife, a half-assed mom, and a by the seat of my pants student is what I feel like most days. I give myself a pat on the back if I can make it through the day without forgetting anything. (the list is always seemingly endless... pay that, mail this, pack that form for her, check that address, Thursday is hat day, wednesday bring laptop to class, friday bring change for the parking meter...sigh) And those are all the little niggling extras that change on a daily basis, in addition to the everyday things like for her, lunch, homework, and climate appropriate clothing. It may sound easy, but it never is - the other day I walked back from the bus stop only to walk in and find her lunch sitting on the coffee table. So subtract from my already meager work day an hour driving to and from her school. Is it thanksgiving yet?

No, I actually can't wish the days away right now - I need them to go by at a snail's pace as I now have until the end of December to write a 50 page paper that will determine whether or not I can become a doctoral candidate. The dreaded prelim. Actually, I'm looking forward to it. Of course, you can check back in on me in a month or two to find that attitude drastically altered. We shall see. I'm excited about the topic, I think that it's an interesting one. And I think that I'm making good time so far. Of course, I have to keep reminding myself, I haven't really started the hard part yet. So far, I've spent the past two weeks doing extensive literature searches, importing articles to a database, and organizing them. Then, over the next four weeks I get to read the 107 (gulp) of them, take notes, and finally, I've given myself a month to write it. This all sounds so reasonable to me right now. I've managed to come up with a very detailed time line, which I plan to stick to like glue, and have been so far. But then, I'm conveniently forgetting about things like holidays, travel, days off from school for the kiddo, and the fact that I agreed at some point over the summer to sub for a graduate stats class sometime in the next two months(the TA's having a baby), not to mention my duties to my research assistantship, that I'm presenting at a conference, and need to write another paper in the meantime. So, yeah - we'll see how it goes. I just keep hearing my advisor's voice in my head over and over saying "three months" (the amount of time was entirely my idea) at my proposal, with just the slightest tinge of what? trepidation? doubt? disbelief? or was it all in my imagination and he was just double checking? I don't know.

But nonetheless, I'm excited! I keep feeling like I could do this for a living. Maybe write textbooks, or edit journals. There must be some job that is perfect for someone who loves poring over endless databases, and reading all day long. Maybe I should've been a librarian. Well, I am what I am. And what I am is a mother/phd student - one of the craziest combinations. I think that it must be impossible to be in this place and not be inflicted with self-doubt, paralysis, guilt, and always feeling like I'm treading water. Add to that a husband who, while loving and great - has no idea what I'm doing, and is in the middle of his own swirling mess of shit creating a company, throw in a dash of - we have no family here, and finally sprinkle on top just for kicks a lab mate who is a type A overachiever and seems to perfectly obtain all that I feel I'm failing at. Let simmer for two months... by that time I should be cooked.


Anonymous said...

I have to quote Lily Allen here, just for fun:

"I wanna be able to eat spaghetti Bolognese,
and not feel bad about it for days and days and days.
In the magazines they talk about weight loss,
If I buy those jeans I can look like Kate Moss,"

All of us, probably President Obama, feel like we come up short—no matter the number of responsibilities we choose to have. But checking off items on to-do lists is not living. When was the last time you put "Have a cup of tea" on your to-do list? How about "Be smart." You'd get to check it off every day!

The important thing is that you have decided to take on these responsibilities in the first place. About 1% of the US population even has a Ph.D.—how many of those have kids? I think the next time that your worried about getting things even 75% done, you should remind yourself that you're one of the only people in the world who could even manage that.

ily said...

heavy shit man.

i believe blue is feeling similar right now. so much to do at work and so much to do at home now with the bebes and dad jobs ;-)

that being said i can't relish enough my time off work right now... how do you look back on your time off now that you are so crazy busy?

maepress said...

Well, it hurts to look back in any case with kids, they grow so fast and the moments are just gone.
That being said, I do so miss those days of being a stay at home mom! But I got very frustrated with feeling not very well rounded. It's time very well spent, but I couldn't do it for very long.

maepress said...

And thank you anonymous! that was very kind of you!


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