I usually don't feel much conflict or internal struggles being a scientist and a mom. But, just now, I felt my heart drop to my feet, and my chest tighten, and I felt on the verge of tears. Why?
Because I completed the registration to spend three full days away from my family for a conference I was invited to participate in.
I am so very passionate about the topic of the conference, "Reporting Across the Culture Wars: Engaging Media on Evolution". And, I am thrilled at the invitation to participate. But a very powerful part of me aches at the realization that participating in this life means I will have to spend three days without waking up to my sweet little Bear's smiling face. I will miss three days of her dancing, of her singing, of watching her learn and grow, of reading, and exploring, and, and... everything.
I do understand why so many conferences and workshops plan their events on the weekends, but I don't think it is the way it should be.
As a scientist, I love my work. I love research, and interacting with students and peers. I can't get enough science. But, as a parent, my weekends are precious. They are the time when I get the whole day to spend with my partner, and with my child. If a child weren't in the picture, I would still want time to spend with my family and friends. But, with a child, the weekends disappear faster than ever.
I know there will be many more times over the coming years where both I and my partner will have to spend days away from one another, for science. I expect it. And, I think it may get easier. I just hope that conference organizers will start to recognize what a terrible imposition it is to the quality of life of participants to be expected to give up the precious little time we usually have reserved for our families.