Friday, August 6, 2010

Science Dads Reporting for Duty!

ScientistMother's recent post about a new article in Science Careers (Scientist Dads Step Up by Vijaysree Venkatraman), was welcome, extending the Work-life balance theme that the bloggers at LabSpaces have been exploring recently.

Let me first make a big fat disclaimer: I don't know anything about work-life balance, because mine has been broken ever since the second baby came into our lives (hey, who knew a 4 1/2 lb preemie could bust that up?). I ain't no role model, as I'm far from doing either the work thing well, or the parent thing well. In fact, if I had to say which I was better at, right now it'd be the parent thing.

Figure 1: The Blair spawn frolick. I'm not in the picture cause Mom had to work on both weekend days. We all survived, the house survived, and I think I even got some laundry done. Can't remember if it was folded though.

Normally I don't think of blogging about my role as a parent. As most parents will tell you, parenting is by and large boring and repetitive tasks, punctuated by both incredibly heart warming and incredibly terrifying moments. So who cares when I have to stay home with a sick kid? Or that I made dinner last night - as I have just about every night for the past 11 years of our marriage? Or when night terrors in a 4 1/2 year old return us to the sleepwalking zombies of the infant stage? Or that I left the lab early to go to a parent-teacher conference at daycare? I already lived it, what's the point to discussing it further? Plus, god forbid it be seen as cookie-begging.

Well, maybe it isn't obvious that a lot of science dads are doing the hard grunt work of parenting. Maybe because there just aren't actually do do it. Or maybe those who do feel they need to hide or diminish it, for fear of not being taken seriously. In that case, having science dads talk about their involvement would help make it more normal.

And reading between the lines of the Science Careers article suggest we need to go even farther, as these quote suggest:

"...his lawyer wife, who works part time..."

"Currently, his wife stays home to care for their two young children -- "

"But women avail themselves of those [parental-leave] policies more often than men do because men fear they may not be regarded as serious, competitive scientists if they take parental leave..."

[now, each couple makes the decisions that are best for them. I get that. But the best we got from the men for staying away from work was Chad Nusbaum and his two months. Which is definitely great. Still, can't we do more? Shouldn't we?].

And some other quotes:

"Maybe pick two hours each day on Saturday and Sunday” to balance the needs of science and home life." (F*** you dude).

"Maybe you should have married a more supportive wife" (one male postdoc to another regarding long hours spent in the lab)


So, should I do more of daddy blogging? Like I said, I'm not a role model for someone doing well at parenthood and work. I wouldn't call myself a successful scientist; I'm just kinda getting by as well as I can (though things are improving). So in that case, maybe it's worse to do more daddy blogging?

Final note: we're on vacation next week, having family time on the beach. So whoever out there is reading (not that any of you lurkers would step up and respond to this - naughty naughty), no posts.

1 comment:

ScientistMother said...

I don't think any of are poster parents for the best way to do this. As you may remember from the kerfuffle on my blog a few week ago, having science dads open about what they do can go long way in removing the stigma of taking time for your kids/parents. Plus I LOVE knowing i'm not the only one struggling :))