Saturday, February 9, 2008

A day in the life of...(Part 1)

On any given weekday, I am fully awake by around 6:30 am. Of course my sleep has been a bit fitful since around 4 am, which is when Thing 2 toddles into the queen sized bed I share with my husband for a "cuddle". The word is in quotation marks because what Thing 2 seems to think is cuddling is actually stroking mommy's belly, a slightly creepy comforting habit that both my children enjoyed. The enjoyment is not really mutual, unfortunately. And true to her temperament, Thing 2 has kicked it up a notch: where Thing 1 would surreptitiously slide her hand under the bottom of my shirt, Thing 2 just aggressively and unceremoniously yanks my shirt up and has at it. A couple of months ago, I was ready to completely ban her from the bed, but she became inexplicably compliant when I started to ask her to please, PLEASE stop yanking on my clothes. So, she now serves as a pre-alarm clock: shirt yank, "please stop", "okay", back to sleep, repeat. My own little organic snooze button. But I digress.

Sometime during this little cuddle-fest, touchy-feely snooze button torture, my husband gets up, brings me coffee and gets ready to leave for work early enough to miss the morning traffic. Lest you think he is a saint, rest assured that the "Coffee Wars" will be covered in a future post (or ten). The coffee is necessary, but not sufficient for me to then:

1) Wake up Thing 1. This requires calling her, on average, 10 times. (But I suspect the lag time is exponentially distributed)
2) Get breakfast for both Things.
3) Pack peanut-free lunches for both Things that require neither refigeration nor reheating, yet will still taste good 5 hours from now.
4) Encourage Thing 2 to get washed up and dressed.
5) Catch Thing 1 and convince her to stand still long enough to get dressed. Or chase her around with clothing items attempting to sort of lasso her with shirts and the like.
6) Dress myself while being distracted repeatedly by needing to find out why someone is shrieking. By this point, getting to work is really starting to look very attractive.
7) Corrale everyone toward the door and hastily check that I haven't forgotten more than two things. (though my threshhold is gradually increasing)
8) Walk everyone to school/daycare, about a 1.5 mile walk, pushing a stroller.
Then I walk to my lab, getting breakfast on the way because I just can't handle a routine longer than seven steps before leaving the house. I usually get in sometime between 8:30 and 9:00.

This only just barely captures the essence of the gauntlet that is my morning routine. But I'm not complaining. I'm just demonstrating the fact that when I arrive, on the early side of average arrival time in my lab, I've already been working - hard - for a good 2 hours.

ScienceWoman wrote here about feeling that the "Active Dads" are receiving more consideration for their responsiblities outside of work than mothers, which resulted in a few snarky comments about how we parents have chosen our lot, and shouldn't expect co-workers to "pick up the slack" for us. I don't think that my needing to schedule meetings no earlier than 9:00 means that I want someone to do my work for me. Maybe if I started asking my labmates to make my kids' lunches or call me on the phone to help me get up on time I could be accused of "slacking". Or maybe I could just stop doing those things altogether, since this self-indulgent need of mine to take care of my children may be inconveniencing everyone that I work with. That's where these "personal choice" arguments fall down. If I don't take care of my kids, then it falls to the state to do it. One way or another, society must absorb some of the costs of raising children. Or maybe what these people really mean to say is that since my husband and I have chosen to have kids, I should no longer be chosing to pursue my career.


Mike said...

I think there's a horrible culture of people looking to put each other down in labs for not doing enough or working long enough hours. It's usually not based on anything related to actual results, but it's more about trying to establish a pecking order in the lab. Most of the people who are in lab for insane hours spend their time surfing the web.

contrary-wise said...

when I arrive, on the early side of average arrival time in my lab, I've already been working - hard - for a good 2 hours.

Mike pointed me to your blog. I think it's vital to point out how much of women's work goes unrecognized. Especially in the crazed environments of science. Good luck. And keep writing!