This month I am on vacation.
Not on vacation traveling with the kids. Or on vacation at home with the kids. No, really on vacation sans children. Part-time anyway. (A slightly under-the-weather Legume is with me right now, snoring peacefully away in her bed).
I can’t remember the last time I had such luxury. Oh, right—that’s because I’ve never had it before! I’ve either been working, in school, or raising kids (or some combination)—but to have a little free time without employment and without kids?
Being a stay-at-home mom, I remarked to a friend at the gym the other day, is actually a lot of fun when you’re not really staying at home with the kids.
As I alluded to before, I am unemployed for at least the next few months. My husband and I are keeping the kids in daycare/schoolcare part-time for a number of reasons. We don’t want to take a chance on losing our daycare spots, of course. We don’t want to disrupt the children’s routines. Legume and Bean-girl truly love school now (they were both sooooo happy to be back after the long Christmas break; Legume just kept smiling and smiling when I dropped her off on the first day) and I think preschool is particularly good for little Legume now. But my reasons are also purely selfish. I like having a little free time to myself during the week; there are things I want to get done for myself; and being in charge of the children 24-7 frankly drives this momma bonkers.
So what do I want to get done for myself over the next few months?
This is time to play New Year’s Resolutions, of course. Folded into a 2-3 month time span. I have the usual pledge to exercise and get in shape. As well as other goals. I found last year that breaking up vague goals into concrete proposals helped enormously (especially helps when your aims are particularly modest!) I even mostly fulfilled last year’s very modest goals! (I did get that short story published, and I pitched an article–and was turned down—by Favorite Trade Journal. But at least I made the attempt).
So after the success of the “Goals for 2009” experiment (it did get me off my butt to at least work toward those goals), I now publically declare my overly ambitious Goals for 2010. To make it all the more grandiose, I divide the goals into several fields with pretentious titles.
--Exercise at least 2-3 times a week.
--Take a pilates/yoga class (went to the first class last week—public humiliation).
--Eat more fruits, veggies and whole grains.
Creative writing (and emotional health)
--Finish second short story, send out to some trusted readers, eventually submit and hopefully publish somewhere.
--Start a new story.
--Revise and submit a very old story.
--Try daily journaling/writing.
--Master the literature of an entire new subfield of cell biology (ambitious much?)
*Sub-aim: Try to see if there is a way to link intriguing results from old postdoc to the direction of my (hopeful) new lab to create a coherent and intelligent research plan that brings it all together.
--Sort and donate old clothing (done!)
--Sort, get rid of, organize the toys taking over our house.
--Organize the home office
--Print and organize backlog of family photos.
--Hang up some of those pictures we unpacked three years ago (which are still stacked up on the floor of our den)
Now how many of these goals can I actually accomplish over the next few months? We’ll see….
Although I enjoy this freedom now, I wonder if the lack of external structure will soon start wearing on me. And then I wonder if I’ll get too used to doing my own thing, living a freelance life (I have potential freelance editing contracts starting February). Then I wonder if the notice of funding and call to lab work might come early—as my potential PI thinks it will—and whether I’ll be ready for it, whether I’ll fall apart and my family fall apart and perhaps I’ll humiliate myself after all these years off the bench and disappoint the PI who took me on. . . And perhaps that call to work might not come at all, our grant application gets turned down, the PI’s other grant gets turned down, and despite his assurances he’ll have no money or way to take me in. . . .
It has all happened, as Jennifer Rohn so eloquently writes in her post. I envision all outcomes. I envision a future in which I leave science entirely—leave even the writing and editing of science. And I see another future where I’m back at the bench, happy as a clam. And I look backward and see all those junctures where things might have gone a different way—where the road forked and I took one path and not the other. The road keeps forking ahead; I look both backward and forward, and where does it all lead?
I love Jennifer Rohn’s blog. Go read it if you haven’t—I am in that same bubble of uncertainty.
(And the discussion comments following her post are, as usual, quite wonderful.)