This post is my contribution to the #scimom project, started by David Wescott at It's not a lecture*. I'm a little late, but I think it is continuing all month, and it's a fun idea, so I'm going to jump in.
Here is what David wrote on his blog:
"if you're a mom AND a scientist, then just write a post this month about how awesome it is to be a mom and a scientist or something like that. Maybe suggest a role model, or a story about why both roles are important to you. Just make it personal and relevant to your life. As far as I'm concerned you make an awesome role model and people should know about you."
I am a mom and a scientist. Mini-G is a ridiculously cute 4 yo that is turning into one of the most awesome people I know. She is smart, hilarious and a little bossy. No one enjoys a cup of steamed milk like she does. Throw in a donut and you are witnessing pure job. Being a mom is one of the coolest things ever. I go to the park and play on the swings, watch little kids play soccer and play in the sprinkler. Yeah, I drank out of the hose, and my kid will too. The best part is watching as she discovers the world around her. People have often asked me when I decided to be a scientist. For years, my answer has been "somehow I avoided growing out of it". Kids have a fantastic way of looking at the world that is not that different from scientists. They ask questions (the constant "why?" is definitely part of my life) and notice details that we might take for granted. My own mother encouraged this behavior in me, though she was not a scientist. I was constantly asked to defend and explain my ideas. And she was very understanding when I brought home critters I caught in the field, or took apart the telephone (again).
Being a mom has made starting up a new lab easier for me. There are a couple of hours pretty much everyday that I am NOT thinking about lab stuff. This gives me a chance to get some separation so I have room to actually think about what I'm doing. And also to keep me from getting too wound up. And having a kid forced me to be more efficient about my time when I am at work. Staying a few more hours isn't an option. Yes, I sometimes do more work after Mini-G goes to bed. But, I have learned that sometimes, balls will drop. And I'm OK with that. There are other things that are more important to me. Here's one: Mini-G collects things she thinks are interesting in an empty petri dish, and we take them to lab and look at them in the microscope together. It is AWESOME.
There are always going to be times that I struggle with the "balance" of being a mom and a scientist. But, for me, I can't be anything but both.