Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You Can't Have it "All," or Can You?

Ah, life. We go to school until we're 18, then usually go to college for another 4 (5?) years, then look for a job or go for more school. Maybe by the time we're 25 or 30 (or older) we're finally ready to get into the working world. Here, we often work 80 hour weeks, trying to get ahead. To get to the next level, to get that raise to have more money. We reach retirement and have plenty of money to have a nice rest of our life. But what then? What happens when we look back at our lives, at what we've accomplished. Oftentimes, people who devote so much time and energy into their work failed to create a home life. Take Erin Callan, for example. Former CFO of Lehman Brothers, she never had children. She slowly started working a little bit more on Sundays until she was working a 6 or 7 day work week. She lost her husband to divorce and was left with only her job. Something she thought she wanted, but in the end, left her empty. She is now retired in Florida, married her high school friend (sweetheart?), a fire fighter who has kids from a previous marriage, and is so much happier.

So what about the people who do work their way to the top AND have children? THEY have it all, right? Marissa Mayer is 37 with her first child. Maybe she only wants 1, and that's fine. But what about this one? She had to build a nursery next to her office in order to spend time with the baby. Is that really quality time? And what happens when that baby is a toddler, a child, a teenager? Will that nursery turn into a playroom or cool hang-out? Probably not. Unless Marissa can take the time away from her strenuous job or her husband can stay home with the baby, he'll be raised by a nanny. He'll have to be. Who else can make sure he eats well, gets to school on time, is picked up and bathed every night if Marissa is working 80 hour work weeks. Her husband, Zachary Bogue, is also a high-powered executive, no doubt also working 80 hour weeks. So yes, they have a child, but they can't actually raise their child because they aren't home very much.

So be a stay at home mom! Have multiple children, even homeschool them so you're with them every step of the way! Of course this is a full-time job, I fully respect every parent who takes on this responsibility. It is just as difficult as any high-powered executive job, just in different ways. But what about one's intellectual aspirations? Did we go all the way through high school and college to blow noses and discover the world all over again? Maybe you did, but what was the point of college? What about pursuing the cure for cancer, making sure every innocent person has proper council, that the environment has someone to speak for it. This 24/7 job would leave me missing that part of me who has worked so hard to get somewhere in the working world.

As a PhD candidate, I spend countless hours in the lab and at my computer. I get home in time to make dinner, give Buddy a bath and get him to bed, just to clean up the house and possibly work some more. Who knows if I'll get out of here with a degree, but in the mean time, is it worth it to miss so much? Since having Buddy I don't think I've come close to an 80 hour work week, something that was common during my Masters work and the first few years of my PhD. The Hubs could take it, but should he have? Did our marriage suffer from it? Maybe at times, when I was stressed out over trying to get my data to make sense, I may have over reacted to silly things, but I apologized and everything was better. He has his days, I have mine and we understand we don't mean it when we're upset. We love each other and really can get through anything together. But what about Buddy and any subsequent children? Missing baseball games and music recitals for jobs isn't fair to them. Staying at home with them, feeling like my mind isn't being put to the test trying to understand the Earth's processes, isn't really fair to them either.

So what is having it all? Right now, I don't know. Hopefully it won't take retiring or laying on my death bed to finally figure it out. For now, I'm trying to spend a little less time exploring the world in my office and lab and a little more time exploring the world with Buddy. Let me know if you ever figure it out.

One of Buddy's favorite activities is watching the world from the window. He loves pointing out the dogs ("gog!"), the people ("man" and "girl"), the cars ("cah!") and trucks ("tuck!").

Buddy loves powdery substances. This is a sneak peak of our evening playing with baking soda and other household substances. Can you guess what goes best with baking soda? Check it out here!

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