Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Remind me why evolution has not eliminated guilt?

The post about the validity of leaving academia will have to wait as I am still contemplating its layout in my head, along with 12,000 other posts. In the mean time, I will mention that once again I must remind myself why I am doing this whole PhD with baby, instead of job that requires no brain power. I am reminding myself that I actually enjoy thinking, and that I could not be a stay at home mom. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with that choice, just it is a choice that I could not handle. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED being at home with the monkey while I was on leave, and I hate leaving him…but I also find he drives me freakin banana’s on most days. I find him exhausting with his energy and mentally boring. I remind myself of this today, because yesterday I got the dreaded call from the daycare saying the monkey had fallen and hit his head on the sidewalk, the concrete sidewalk. When I spoke to them on the phone they told me what happened, said that he was upset but that they’ve been monitoring him closely since it happened and he seems fine. He ate well and slept well also. Why had so much time passed between the incident and me actually speaking to someone? The beauty of not having a phone attached to my hip and not checking messages frequently. So this is the wave of emotions I felt, panic, relief, anger (how closely were you watching him?), and guilt. Why I feel guilty I have no idea. Its not like he doesn’t fall and hit his head on my watch, there is a reason he’s referred to as the monkey. Would it have been less traumatic to him if I were there? Probably not, when he falls off something, he usually cry’s more out of annoyance / frustration than pain. Once he done expressing his irritation with not being able to climb up particular stairs/ fence / window / chair he will proceed to attempt it again. Its not like I kill myself in the lab either, really I am writing a blog post once again instead of my proposal. Mind you I have planned a transfection / infection protocol to be carried out this week and did summarize the structure of protein X – now if only those notes would transform magically into a coherent paragraph. I think its more the general guilt of knowing I’m not one of those mums who wants to stay home with kids and actually enjoys it. I don’t know, I just know that guilt is a useless emotion - now if only my heart could be as logical as my head.


The bean-mom said...

I'm sorry to hear that your monkey fell down and got hurt! I remember those days when my Bean-girl was a toddler; they're so clumsy, and *always* falling at that age...

I totally hear you on your description of the exhausting and "mentally boring" work of childcare. I'm wrestling with some of the same issues. After nearly a year at home, I think I'm losing my mind. And I'm gearing up to look for fulltime work again (ha! will anyone ever hire me again?) And like you, I feel guilty that I'm not happier as a stay-at-home parent. I see so many women who seem so utterly fulfilled and happy as stay-at-home moms. But I just can't do this for much more than a year.

By the way, I noticed you have Blogger blocking access to your profile, so that readers can't follow you back to this site from your comments. Is that deliberate?

Mad Hatter said...

I don't have kids, so perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on this. But I know many women scientists who choose to continue working because they would not be happy staying at home permanently. They are great scientists and fantastic mothers. They are role models for younger women and for their own children on how to balance life and career. And I don't think they, or you, or Bean-mom, should feel guilty for it.

ScienceGirl said...

My Mom always says she would have gone crazy if she had to stay at home with us kids, and I think the same would go for anyone with an active mind. I don't know how to deal with the guilt, but I think when I have kids I'll be telling myself that in the long run it is better for everyone if Mom is not pulling her hair out.

Anonymous said...

I recently discovered your blog by accident and the title of "guilt" was too intriguing to resist not reading the post.

I am a scientist with a PhD. I have a child.
In order to write these two sentences I did not put "and" or "as well". I think these two do not have any relation with one another, they just co exist.

I happily stopped working (both my research and my teaching position) and became stay home mom because I enjoyed it fully (both body and mind)- The time was NOT mentally boring for ME. That does not mean it is the same or not for the rest of the population.

I think we are truly making a mistake when we generalize everything in life.

As a scientist you must know that EVERYTHING is unique. The beauty of it is that you CHOSE your road in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that choice or any other choices for that matter….we make choices that are the best one for us at that moment of time….and there is nothing wrong about changing them if the time of change comes.

I think guilt in women / mothers come from society and unfortunately most of it is created by other women and other mother. The never ending war between stay home and full time working mothers is ridiculous.

There are very highly educated and highly successful women that chose to be stay at home mom only because that is their choice.

We are blessed to have a choice, I for choosing to stay at home and you for choosing to work- and not HAVE TO.

and to one of your reader that made a comment above (mad hatter):
I think if a scientist or a lawyer or a secretary chooses to be a stay home at mom or stay at home dad, that person can be EQUALLY a good role mother for their children AND the younger women and men. To balance life and a carrier is not a subject for being a role model. To be able to be happy and fulfilled with your choices in life is.