Challenge Accepted

I had a conversation with a fellow grad student mom today who was lamenting the fact that she couldn’t have just one day as a “normal grad student.” My reply was, “Yeah, but you’d just be bored.”

And yes, I really do understand and feel her pain. We work hard all day. Then go home where we don’t get rest, but rather we get to start in all over (as I write this post, my own toddler is screaming because he’s decided bedtime is for babies). And our munchkins don’t understand deadlines, only that they need mom. Really, though, who wouldn’t want to come home to this face?

A toddler smiling open mouthed at the camera with a monster shirt on.
The happy face of someone who couldn’t wait for Mom to get home.

The demands of having a kid waiting for me at home were something I was expecting though, having planned having a kid in grad school. What I was not expecting were the subtle ways in which my colleagues do not understand how to accommodate a mother in grad school. Academia is rife with hints that mothers are not welcome here (although it’s much better than in the past). From lab mates deciding to meet up at the pub last minute instead of the family friendly restaurant (when I’m already en route with my toddler) to the late night receptions at conference (where the main purpose is to imbibe). To be honest, as someone who didn’t drink before having kids, I only feel even more excluded than I did before, but that is perhaps a blog post for another day.

In some ways, becoming a mom in academia has made my job at networking both harder and easier. I might be losing out on some of the fun parties, but I’ve also been able to tap into a whole new academic network through other moms in the same boat as me. I feel like the support (unlike in other mom-on-the-internet forums) is very positive and academic moms have a great sense of humor.

I understand the wish to have one mom-free day of grad school (not kid-free, because we love our children beyond anything else). A day where we can plan a celebration lunch without worrying when we have to get back for the sitter or have a late night coding session without having to run home to breastfeed. (I can’t even start with trying to pump at school…) So, those who are perhaps wondering if grad school is the right time to have kids and thinking about making the plunge—yes! Totally worth it, but it’s really hard work. You’ve been warned. And it’s okay to have moments where you wish you could shed your mom mantel for just a moment, because you’re human.

Stay strong, my fellow grad student moms!

A Letter for My Little Boy

My Dear Son,

Nine months ago today, you joined our family rosy cheeked and ready to go. I remember seeing you and crying because I knew you were perfect in every way, before your daddy took you out of the operating room to meet your BeBe. Hours later, when I got to hold you for the first time, I knew we were meant to be.

Thinking back on the last nine months, I am amazed with how much you have accomplished and learned. I have laughed with joy at your triumphs and admired you as you have touched the lives of so many people. You’ve gone from a squirmy little newborn, to a crawling, cruising, babbling ball of energy. I love your voracious appetite for books and your sweet, wet kisses. You are amazingly stubborn and independent, but also deeply caring and loving.

In the first couple of days, while we were still in the hospital, I learned how very close I came to never getting to hold you that first time. The thought that, in one moment, I could have not woken up from the operating table and missed all of this, stabs deep in my heart every time I think about it. But in these nine months, with you by my side, I have learned to be fiercer for it.

I am more protective of my time with you. While you’ve been learning to be more independent, I’ve been learning to be more mindful of every moment that I have. I cherish every second, all the laughs and through the tears. And while I’ve been learning to let my guilt go when I have to go to work, I know that you are stronger for that, too. When I feel busy, like there is no end to the work, I take a breath and remember that I get to come home to you and that I am building a home for you. I know that, for these last 9 months, and for the rest of my life, I will be pushing forward for you, setting an example for you, and living in the moment for you.

I love you, my sweet pea. I look forward to every moment I get to spend with and I look forward to all that you grow to be.

Love Always,

Your Mom

Kai and Mommy Having Fun

My Time: Where it’s spent.

Categorizing my Time

So I logged all my hours during the last week to see where I was spending my time. I am not surprised at all by the results, but it’s still fun to see it visualized.

For anyone wondering – yes, I am basically doing two full-time jobs at the moment – being a mom and being a grad student. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hopefully, as I have time (haha), I will write more posts about how I manage my time and get everything done!

Crawling out of the fog

For those that know me personally, you’ll know I recently gave birth to the sweetest little boy. He is known as baby Kai in my HCI circles to identify him from the many Kai, Khai, and CHI’s floating about. He’s 3 months old and, as I have heard from several sources, I am just now starting to come out of the fog. I perhaps likened my experiences as more sort of clawing my way out of a pit, but the end result is the same. I am here, slightly battered and definitely disoriented, but so very much richer than I was before.

laughinBaby

I start this blog up again because I feel like it was always an important thing for me to document what has been happening in my life- both for my own amusement and to point to when people ask me how I “do it” (that is, go to grad school, be a mom, and stay a semi-sane human being).

The plan is to produce posts (realistically, semi-sporadically) about my research, writing, things I’m reading, videos as I make them, tales from being a grad school mom, progress on video games I’m making, and gaming in general (I’m going to be honest, you’re going to probably get a lot about Minecraft).