Two-body problem; post 2

July 31, 2009 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment

Yesterday I began writing about our current two-body problem.  I want to write a little bit about how I’ve felt so far, and why.

First I was extremely excited at having an interview!  Then I started thinking about what all this means for our family.  And that has obviously been the difficult part.

Ok, so I grew up in a very “traditional” home.  My dad worked and my mom stayed home.  I stayed home with her until half-days at preschool when I was 4.  It was always kind of an unspoken truth that mommies should stay home with their babies.  And that wives should defer to their husbands.  My parents have a pretty equal relationship, but there is definitely an undercurrent of patriarchalism there.

I was always encouraged to excel in school, and in science and math.  My dad has a master’s degree in some sort of computer science and my mom has a bachelor’s in math.  When I wanted to go to a tech school for a science degree my parents were proud.  When I got my degree they were more proud.  When I went to grad school the pride continued.  Then when I got pregnant they started thinking of the child, and what would we do with it?  What were my plans?

Froggy was born shortly before I defended my master’s thesis.  SkepToad was working on his PhD already, so we shared caring for Froggy.  I worked part-time at the University while SkepToad researched and we would switch off at lunch-time most days.  So I pretty much stayed home with Froggy.

Now that I’ve re-entered the working world, I realize that I need this.  I need to be involved in something bigger than me.  I’m smart, and I need to be intellectually challenged.  I would be so bored if I were a stay-at-home mom full-time.  I am happier for working.  Besides these things I want to give Froggy a good example of a working mother, doing something she loves, not just working to pay the bills.  That has become as important to me as someone staying at home with her was before she was 2 years old.

With this potential job I feel that I can give Froggy this example.  But at the same time I am tugged at by feelings from my upbringing.  Besides having a non-working mother, there was also the whole “husband as head of household” part.  My dad worked, and we moved a few times for his job.  He was the only one with a career, so of course it was the most important.  Now that I have a chance at a pretty awesome career I find myself feeling guilty.  Do I deserve to pursue a career if it makes it more difficult for SkepToad to pursue his dream career?  How can we work it out so that we both have a chance at a good career?  Should I just give up and fulfill a completely supportive role, just making enough money to get us through the PhD and postdoc process, and find myself without a real career afterwards?

These “women-come-second” feelings are awful!  I feel them at the same time I’m kicking myself for feeling them.  But it is difficult to let go of this thing that has been in my subconscious mind my entire life.  It helps to have a husband who understands where I’m coming from.  He’s really good at telling me I do deserve to have a meaningful career and that we will do our best to work something out that is good for both of us.

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A version of the two-body problem; post 1

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The Stars

SkepticMommy : Me! I'm a scientist working in industry. I get to play in the lab most of the time. I also run, do yoga, and read. And I'm always learning more about the world around me.

SkepToad : My husband, a 6th year astrophysics PhD student. He's involved in some really cool research and he also likes teaching and outreach.

Froggy : My preschool age daughter. She loves to dance and sing and color and go to the Children's Museum, and she has a great sense of humor.

Ringo : Froggy's lovey, a stuffed frog that's been with us since she was born. Yeah, his name is Ringo.

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