Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I've been thinking about this word a lot the past week. A friend of mine came over to help me paint - man, there is no end to painting! - and we talked a bit about 'fulfillment.' Her husband isn't sure she feels 'fulfilled' staying at home with their kids, despite her assurances to him that for her, this is the most important thing she can be doing right now. Not that it doesn't make her crazy at times - she is human after all and not a robot.

I suppose some people are fortunate enough to have found jobs/careers that 'fulfill' them. I have always found that for myself, fulfillment does not come from the outside. That is, I have to take active steps to 'fill Kat.' If I don't, crankiness ensues. If i do, the world is a happier place - at least MY world is. There were two gals in my former lab that talked often of their love of day care. They often dreaded the weekends, because then they would have their kids full time. These were good mothers who loved their kids, but they weren't used to hanging out with them all the time. I've always been curious how much of the 'labeling' of each side (stay-at-home vs. 'working' mom) is a defense mechanism to assuage some of the guilt that each feels about their personal choice, but for these gals stay-at-home mom were bon-bon eating, manicure getting, all-day shopping, super-snotty lazy butts who were too dumb to have 'real jobs.' How could they not carry their weight in society by having a job? How could they possibly be happy just staying at home with their kids?

Needless to say, we did NOT have many conversations about my post-Katie-hatching plans. The PI (boss) left and I conveniently ran out of funding at the same time that I was due, so that gave me an out. To them, I was 'wasting' my education by not going back to work right away (the two gals I'm thinking of in particular were technicians, which means primarily that their job is to carry out the experiments that someone else thinks of and later interprets.) Most interesting to me was the support I got from the new PI of the lab, a fellow Ph.D., who said that he would happily trade working for a few years in order to stay home and raise his new son, and the MD investigator who cut her hours after the birth of her twins so she could spend more time with them.

I understand that it's a personal choice for everyone, but if I was working full-time right now, and let's pretend that I could find a research position with a 30 minute commute, I would see my kids approximately 2.5 hours a day. One hurried hour or so in the morning, trying to get everyone fed and ready and out the door, and about an hour and a half at night, which time wouldbe spent making dinner, trying to get them to eat it, and putting them to bed. That to me is insanity. As a postdoc, the only real extra nonsense I'd have to try and squeeze in would be travel to the occasional conference. As a professor, I'd get to juggle committee meetings, travel, and who knows what else.

Fulfillment? What kind of fun happens in the craziness of getting up and going to bed? Everyone is at their most demanding - myself included. No wonder the lab gals loved day care - if the ENTIRE day was going to be that, who wouldn't want to ship the troops off to let someone else deal with the nonsense. I'm not saying that some days don't FEEL just like that half hour before bed. But even if I was some cutting edge research genius instead of a 'cell poker' studying the effects of low oxygen on lung muscle, how could that make me feel like more of a 'complete' person than watching Katie and Alex have a tea party, or watching how excited they get when they figure something out?

This is not to say that changing a million diapers a day makes me dance around the house singing like Snow White. But for me, working outside my home isn't the answer. Figuring out what DOES energize me and then doing something about it is. That and setting realistic expectations for what I NEED to fill me up. Of course, Dove dark chocolate miniature ice cream bars help too.

Friday, July 11, 2008

playing catch up

We have had a remodeling fiesta going on over here lately, hence the silence. I've been waiting to post some pictures of our little renovation, but can't find the correct cables BECAUSE of the renovation. Words will have to suffice.

The bowling alley has now been shortened, with the pinball games now being enclosed in bedroom #3. I keep cracking up at friends that have 'outgrown' their much larger houses with less inhabitants, while we made the decision to skip moving right now and just sub-divide our space to add another room. The garage is too large, the yard is too fun. We like where we are - just blocks away from Ace, Good Times, the grocery store, Papa Murphy's, and Three Margarita, plus some good parks. And who doesn't love mariachi music while trying to fall asleep? So here we shall remain for a couple more years.

The wiring and walls are up - complete with 'secret passage' from bedroom closet to hall closet, because who didn't want a secret passageway as a kid?! - and now the mudder just needs to get her act together and finish the taping. Roger is out of town this weekend, so I've been trying to get the tapping and painting done- we decided to build in some cabinets/bookshelves/entertainment center deal on the living room side of the new wall - before he gets back. Our goal is to have the remodeling all done before we go to CA July 23. It might actually happen, thanks to the help of some guest painters/babysitters (hooray for Oma and Opa).

Added bonus, Aunt Mag (a.k.a. the baby whisperer) came to town to hang out with a buddy and new baby, so we've been luring her up from Frederick for some playtime. Katie's first question this morning was 'Where is Aunt Mag?' Tonight she came over again for dinner and she and Katie had a grand time drawing and tickling. This just reinforces the need for Mag to live closer!

Pictures are coming, so just stay tuned. I'm sure you're (all two of you) on the edge of your seats. Naturally, it will all be much more impressive in person, so you should just plan on coming out here for a visit!