Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A pause in the winds

... I am speaking metaphorically, of course, referring to the high winds of the holiday season, the frenzied storm around Christmas and the secondary frenzy of New Year's. I am also speaking literally. Two days before Christmas Eve, a Midwestern windstorm whipped through our region, high-pitched and groaning. It woke our children in the night, making the baby cry and sending Bean-girl scrambling multiple times into our bed; until finally my husband and I gave up and brought both girls into bed with us. When we all woke up, it was into darkness. The storm had ripped down powerlines, taking out electricity for most of the city. My parents and sister had been visiting for the weekend; now we all decamped to Grandma and Grandpa's place for the holidays, two days earlier than planned. My husband made a big show of calling Santa Claus on the phone to let him know that we were moving Christmas, so could he please redirect the presents to Grandma's house?

After the presents and food, the storm of giftwrap and scattered boxes, we are now back home, catching our second wind and waiting for the next trip. Tommorrow we board a plane headed Out West, to spend New Year's with my husband's family. I haven't seen them in a year. It will be Baby Legume's first flight.

So this, today, is our pause in the winds, our chance to catch a breath. It is probably my last chance to write here before the end of 2007.

It's been a good year. A busy year. One of great changes for us all in my little nuclear family. In this past year we up and moved across the state to a new city and into our first "real" (that is, one with a backyard) house. My husband started his new job. I adjusted to caring for the Bean-girl full-time. And only one month after our move, I gave birth to our second and probably last child, the Baby Legume.

Over the Christmas holidays my sister R commented that I seem to be obsessed with blog-reading and motherhood issues. Maybe. She recently found religion, and she is proudly wrapped up in her new faith--"hard-core" as she puts it. Is it too extreme to compare the transformative effects of motherhood to that of religion? I've never been religious, so I can't say. I can say that nothing I've ever experienced wrenches me, exhausts me, wrings me out and then simultaneously pierces and expands my heart the way motherhood does. I was a mother to the Bean-girl for ~2.5 years before the Baby Legume, of course; it's just now that I've had more time (or made more time) to read and reflect on it all. And I have my new habit of blog-reading to thank for that: I've discovered voices in the blogosphere writing about motherhood in honest, thoughtful, and beautiful ways that I have never seen in commercial print.

I read a lot of women-in-science blogs, too, of course, as a glance at my blogroll will tell. I have now been out of research science for over a year, and yet I continue to read these voices. Leaving the world of academic science has been very very difficult for me, and I am still trying to reconcile myself with this loss. The other night my husband and I were watching a news show on stem cell research, and as I watched the scientist on-screen pippeting fresh pink media into tissue culture dishes I swear that I felt the most aching nostalgia. That used to be me! I thought. Everything playing out onscreen--the lab equipment, the lab benches, the mundane procedures, little vials being removed from the liquid nitrogen tanks--oh, I knew all that, that was my own "home" not so long ago. Of course, I'd often felt tissue culture to be a royal pain in the ass, so how ironic to be feeling nostalgic for it now.

Leaving my job, being forced into the realization that scientific research is mostly likely NOT a viable long-term career for me--that, too, has been a huge adjustment this year. I'm trying to find a way to reshape my career, to rescue (in my eyes) a decade worth of training. I've been taking on freelance medical writing/editing projects. But I still don't know if that's what I really want to do. Or what I really want to do.

So... career transitions, a move to a new city, and the birth of a second child. A heaping plate. And on top of that all--the cherry on top, the chocolate sprinkles if you please--let me add the discovery of the blogosphere. My funny new addiction. My late entrance to the party. Because I learn so much, reading these other voices in the ether. Because you make me think. Because writing in this blog forces me to sit and think, to work with words again in a way that I haven't since I graduated from college. I love that. And I love the community I've found here, a tribe of smart, thoughtful, supportive women, writing and commenting and coming together in a mental (if not physical) space.

So in the waning days of 2007, I find myself offering up an out-of-season valentine--a valentine to you, the blogosphere, my fellow bloggers and blog-readers, my friends and any who might one day stumble on these words and become a new friend. Thank you for offering me this space. Thank you for writing. Thank you for reading.

Christmas is over. The new year is about to begin. Safe journey through the last days of the old, and welcome to the new.


arduous said...

This was beautiful. May 2008 bring you more unexpected discoveries.

The bean-mom said...

Thanks, Arduous. May 2008 bring you many happy discoveries as well! (I'll be following your monthly challenges!)

EcoGeoFemme said...

I came to *heart* the blogosphere in 2007 too. It's an amazing way to connect with people, if for no other reason than that it removes everything extraneous. You have no way to judge people except by the words they choose to share.

ScienceMama said...

I have so much to say and not the time to write it. But I *heart* the wonderful way that writing and sharing and supporting and loving has brought us together. And I think it's wonderful that you are wrapped up in motherhood, and that blogging helps you process your experience and make it a thoughtful process.

And as to the changes in your career, it's no wonder that you feel a profound sense of loss. But I expect my career to be changing in the future too, and I'd like to talk to you more about your freelance work...

Bean is stirring, so more later...

Happy New Year, Bean-Mom and family!

The bean-mom said...

Ecogeofemme, I just read your own valentine to the blogosphere on your site. Lovely, and I agree with every word.

Sciencemama, thank you for understanding. A lot of people seem not to understand how sad I was/am to leave research... I do mean someday to write something about careers in science writing/editing, as I think some readers of this blog might be interested. In the meantime, you can e-mail me anytime!

Nicole said...

Thanks so much for the visit and comment to my blog. I love having a new blogger to stalk. ;)

That was a lovely post, and I so understand the feelings you have about leaving science. I left science too after a Ph.D. and a post-doc. Now I am in law and it's been a rough transition. In fact, it's still rough. I will be back to read more.

Ophelia Rising said...

A beautiful end-of-the-year sentiment, and one that I can fully relate to. It's quite isolating being a mom and leaving your paying job, staying home with your children and missing the interaction and intellectual challenges of the work place. Although being a mom is certainly the greatest challenge I've ever had to tackle, too.

I had been all set to begin a teaching career when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, and now I feel like I need to put it on hold some more until both of my children are in school. But during these years I've been freelance writing, and I think I might be leaning towards continuing on this path for awhile. But I'm not sure. It's so difficult to know what will happen, and perhaps the best thing to do is to just let things happen, and take everything as it comes (if you'll pardon the tired old expression). Change and uncertainty can be scary and sad, but they are also a necessary and beautiful part of life.

Thank you for your "valentine." It's wonderful and inspiring to read posts written by insightful, intelligent women like you.

The bean-mom said...

You summed it up--it's the uncertainty that gets to me the most. Me and uncertainty don't play well together (although we are forced to now).