Friday, November 6, 2009

Things I've learned while returning to work

Things I've learned while I've been slowly ramping up how much time I spend working versus doing baby-related things:

1) Working at home is still more productive than working at school...if Baby Mayhem agrees to take her naps or her grandmother is visiting. I really thought that going to work would be critical for managing to get work done. But I'm only at school 1-2 days per week and those days often get jam packed with meetings. Even though Baby Mayhem's good days only give me 1-3 hours of time to get work done, that's still more time than I get at school. Of course on the bad days, being home is kinda like  being stuck in a faculty meeting all day - lots of crying, yelling, spitting, and general frustration.

2) You do actually get used to baring your breasts at work (behind locked doors, with the blinds drawn closed, and the lights off). I now regularly pump when I go to school. What's hard is making sure I get time to do it. Since my day is often booked from beginning to end, it's hard to find 30 minutes to deal with the breast pump. It's not like I can schedule a meeting with a student or administrator and pump during it. I have, however, used milking myself as an excuse to get out of a painfully long committee meeting. Let's just say a room full of men have no comeback to that one...

3) I'm less worried about other people's whiny problems. A senior professor fussed at me because I hadn't sent a mundane email that he thought I should have sent. Before Baby Mayhem I would have gone home and worried about whether the incident made that professor think less of me. Now, I just looked at him and thought "pfft. I'm getting 3 hours of sleep at night and still working while on 'maternity leave' and taking care of a newborn. Write your own damn emails."

4) The state of my appearance is generally unchanged. Over the years, I have seen mothers of newborns generally stop investing in their appearance. They stop brushing their hair, putting on makeup, wearing nice clothes, etc. However, I never did those things before I had the baby so there is no discernable change in my appearance. The only real difference is that instead of having white deodorant stains on my shirt, I now have white spit up stains.

5) Sleep deprivation will drive you slowly insane, but your graduate students may not notice. I'll let you decide whether that's because I'm good at hiding my insanity or because my graduate students already thought I was crazy...

and last but not least

6) Not having much opportunity to do science for the past few weeks has bothered me personally much more than I thought it would. Getting little done scientifically doesn't worry me professionally (I worked my butt off before Baby Mayhem arrived to make sure things were going through the pipelines before the lull hit). But personally, I really miss working on my science. However, I take it as a good sign that I still love that aspect of my job and I've chosen the right career for myself!