Friday, April 18, 2008

Its a monster mash

Todays post is going to miss mash of thoughts. First-lets give a welcome to Melanie, who has decided to jump from blog reader to blogger. It wasn't an easy decision for me to start blogging, as is evident from my first posts. Once you start blogging its a delicate balance between sharing enough so that readers are able to understand the nuances of what you are thinking/feeling, but not sharing so much that you take away the privacy of your loved ones. I am sure that it is a effort that many bloggers have dealt with. So congrats Mel (you don't mind if I call you that??) for taking the plunge.

Second - I would highly recommend that whomever is reading this post (outside of the one known reader) to take a look over at Rednecks' post today. I have been reading Red's blog regularly for about 6 months. I've known about it for longer, but hers is definitely an outback humor that takes a bit getting used to. Mr.SM is from farm country and forced me to live out in the sticks for the first 3 years of our marriage (he would move back in a heartbeat). I am not a farm girl, but once you live in the hicks - you become a bit of a redneck. So this brown city girl has red ring around her and busts a gut reading Red. But today, I was in awe of how well Red demonstrated what it is to be a responsible, respectful adult in the face of extreme assholeness. Its hard to believe that parents like the one she encountered exist - but they do and my heart goes out to their kids. Way to go Red for reacting so well - because if it was me I would've been throwing some punches and knocking out some teeth.

Oh yeah, HerBadMother is always courageous and so thoughtful in her writings. Today is no different.

So whats been going on with me for the last couple days? After venting online about feeling like my lab meeting was a personal attack, I swallowed my pride and asked those individuals for some help. I still think that I was not wrong in thinking there was some maliciousness to their critiques, but some of the stuff they said was helpful. Since I do not want to spend 10 years doing a PhD, I would rather swallow my pride and move forward then be in the same spot 3 years from now. I also must spend some time reading those pesky journal articles and design a preliminary project so that I can get "something on the board" as on labmate said. So that is the lab front, a cycle of up and down.

Mostly today, I want to talk about family. As I have mentioned before I am a first generation Canadian, both my parents immigrated here from India. In indian culture family is HUGE, but growing up we did not have alot of family around. Both my parents came from small families that stayed back in India and I always dreamed of marrying in to a big family with lots of siblings, cousins and grandparents. How I missed having grandparents around! Luckily for me Mr. SM has a whole bunch of cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings and grandparents. Which means the boy will grow up with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles galore! It also means that my parents don't get the access to the boy that they feel is their right - we're not even going to go on about the fact that they think it is their right as apposed to a privilege....
It doesn't help that my relationship with my parents is strained. I know my parents love me and ultimately they want me to be happy, but things have happened that I have not been able to get over and I have changed in ways they do not accept or like.
I grew up the youngest in my family, a constant people pleaser that avoided confrontation. Since I was a people pleaser, I tended to do well in school but it also came easily to me. I always knew I would extend my academic career beyond a BSc; at first I thought about med school, then physio but in my last year of my BSc I discovered research. I started my MSc right before I got married and had a good first year. And then it went to hell in a hand basket. Like all new grad students, I had to learn that I wasn't always right, I didn't alway know what I was doing, and I had to learn how to take constant failure (experiments usually demonstrate that your hypothesis is wrong). These lessons can wreak havoc on ones self-esteem. About half way through my MSc I hit rock bottom, I had never quit anything in my life before but I was about to walk away from the lab. On top of those horrible lessons about myself that I had to learn, Mr. SM and I were going through our own adjustments of being married, dealing with a mortgage, and dealing with my parents who were never happy with the time we gave them and who I felt were not supportive of me. I just couldn't deal anymore, I had knot in my stomach at the thought of going into the lab. Mr. SM realized that the only way I was going to get through that MSc (especially with a supervisor that liked to make inappropriate comments) was if I learned to put myself first, if I learned to say No, and most importantly if I learned to stand up for myself - ouch those are even harder lessons to learn! But I learned them all and finished my thesis in one piece. That Mr. SM knows hows be a rock, I would never have survived if it wasn't for him. But that experience changes a person, I cam out stronger, more assertive and not afraid of confrontation - all things my parents did not appreciate or understand. Even worse, as opposed to try to understand how the dynamics of being a graduate student in science can lead to these changes, like typical Indian parents they blame Mr. SM. Instead of recognizing that I was putting myself first, they saw everything as Mr. SM putting his family first and himself first (shouldn't he be before my parents????).
Now that I am back in research. I am again walking the long journey to a thesis, which means the lab will consume HUGE amounts of time. Mr. SM is also finishing up yet another post-bachelorate diploma while working fulltime to pay for our mortgage, groceries and other living expenses. What that means is Mr. SM only has the weekend to play with the boy and to spend time with us as a family. Free weekends will be far and few between because Mr. SM has a large family with many functions. I love his whole family, they have been nothing but supportive and encouraging to me (unlike my parents). Apparently that means nothing to my mom, she thinks she has a right to take the boy to quote "if not every weekend, every other weekend as Mr.SM is always studying anyway". Am I unreasonable? how do you deal with meeting the needs of grandparents with your busy lives? I know I have not given all the background on why my relationship is strained, it would make this post too long, I am sure it will come out eventually.

1 comment:

Backpacking Dad said...

I took the easy way out and moved too far away for them to visit casually. The visits have to be planned, which means they have to be approved in advance, and distance means expense, so they have to be important.

Came through from Redneck Mommy. Nice to see yet another Canadian blogger around.