Sunday, December 21, 2008

Motherhood and Identity

Dr. Isis has a really profound post up on motherhood and maintaining your identity.

How can you make it as a successful scientist and a successful mother? There are a lot of women (as Dr. Isis describes in her post) who completely separate the work and personal spheres, have no pictures of their children up in the office, and deny that there is any difference between their current state of job devotion and their pre-children state.

Personally, I couldn't do that if I tried. My son is such an important part of my life that I can't imagine shutting down that part of my brain during the day. I do tell people at work what he's been up to lately, but I don't think I'm one of those people who can talk about nothing else. I mostly just recount some amusing vignettes and leave it at that.

He's not the first thing I talk about to everyone I meet at work, but if you work with me for long enough, you'll figure it out. I have a mini-shrine of baby pictures at my desk. My computer's screensaver is pictures of Vinny. And to anyone who asks I will tell a funny story about him.

Whether I like it or not, Vinny has changed the type of person I am, and I couldn't go back to pre-baby even if I wanted to. Like any major life event, the entrance of this little person into my life has been life-changing. I have a much different perspective now -- I don't sweat the small stuff so much, I feel more confident, and I'm a better leader.

Furthermore, I don't want to go back to that state. This has been a transformation for the better. He is an inspiration and an encouragement to me at work as well as at home.

I'd like to be an inspiration to other women who want to be scientists and mothers. Can you do both jobs well? Sure, it's just that you have to determine your priorities and be flexible about things that don't directly help you meet your goals. For example, having a spotless house is nice, but if cleaning takes up so much time that you don't have enough time to spend with your child, then adjusting your expectations may be a good idea.

Anyhow, I thought that Dr. Isis' post was really good and I'm glad that she is also keeping her scientist and mother identities integrated.

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