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!

11 comments:

Becca said...

This is so funny, so much of it is what it's been like for me. Particularly #3, 4 and 6.

I am still brushing my hair though. And I'm still not into the science flow, nothing is working. But I did realize how much I missed it.

Ink said...

Oh wow -- what a great post. Excellent observations. And "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." = brilliant! :) Sounds like you're doing a great job. Kudos. And hope you get some sleep soon...

yolio said...

good to hear from you

Candid Engineer said...

Amusing post, thanks.

ScienceWoman said...

Too true. In order to work the pumping into meeting filled days, I started just putting 3 daily pumping breaks into my Outlook calendar and refusing to let any meetings be scheduled on top of them because I had a previous commitment on my calendar. Also, on the rare days that I got to hunker down with my science, it was good to have a reminder that I absolutely needed to stop every couple of hours and pump.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

This is a riot. Amen to my appearance being none the worse, pathetically enough.

And yes, anyone with a working brain finds full-time newborn care a shade unsatisfying. I'm regularly grateful that I live now, and not 50 (or even 25) years ago.

You turn the lights off to pump??

Professor Chaos said...

@Sciencewoman: Yes, I really should put that on my calendar. I've been trying to figure out how to get my iPhone to moo at me to remind me!

@Dr Jekyll & Mrs Hyde: Yes, sadly, I do turn off the lights. My office is first floor with gaps in the blinds with a window on a main thoroughfare across campus. There also seems to be a bush outside my window that fascinates students. After looking up and seeing a student picking berries off the bush not 6 feet from me and my milking machine...well, lights off just makes me feel better.

Geknitics said...

Scheduling pumping time, sounds like a good use for "posted tasks" in Groupwise. Now if just had a secure office to pump in, I'd be all set.

Angela said...

I just discovered your blog and assumed you might be someone working on Chaos theory, now, however, I am wiser :) Humorous post.

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I loved this!!!! How can I follow your blog?

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