That’s a good question. I’ve been finally taking the time to figure out who I am. My definition of myself has been evolving over the past 5 years.
I’m a 37 year old mom of three beautiful and smart young girls (aged 3, 4.5 and 6). Geniuses? No, but really amazing just the same.
I am a former scientist in the biotech field. I have 12 years of experience in the clinical laboratory setting in three different areas – food microbiology, forensic DNA, and medical genetics. After unexpectedly having 2 children in 2.5 years, both my work and home life suffered. I was gone 11 hours a day, and I had to come home and start my second-shift job – that of mother (my dh had shift work then and had been gone at night 2 weeks out of 3 and I had no help at home those nights). By the time my second daughter was 6 months old, and I had been back at work for 3 months, I assessed the situation: I was chronically tired, chronically late for work, and chronically distracted when I was at work. I rarely saw my husband because of his shift work (he was a displaced mechanical engineer forced to work shift work after being laid off in 2001’s recession). My lab director was becoming increasingly irritated with me and I with her (a mother herself), and I just had enough of being passed over for additional job training opportunities.
I decided I had enough. I was done with being splintered, of being increasingly burnt out at work, and unhappy coming home to be “on” for my girls when I was exhausted. I dreaded coming home, and I frequently fell asleep reading them stories. Something was about to give, and it wasn’t going to be my mental health. Fortunately, I was in a good financial position to come home without too much struggle, even though I was in a significant amount of emotional turmoil over the decision. I gave my lab director a generous three month notice so I could train my replacement while I adjusted to the concept of being jobless after 12 consecutive years of being employed.
I knew exactly what I was giving up: monetary compensation, intellectual stimulation, the prestige of working for a well-known private university, and essentially the whole pre-child identity that I worked so hard to create.
But I also knew exactly why it was important for me to walk away – I needed the chance to get to know my children deeply and be the one to directly influence their lives. I hated being on the fringe of their lives – even though my wonderful mother-in-law was more than an adequate substitute. She cared for them as if they were her own, and talked with them, played with them, lovingly cared for their needs.
I make no judgments on another mother’s choices. But for me, the choice was easy. I needed to be with my children, as much as my children needed to be with me, and maybe even more so. I think much of this stems from a lot of my own childhood hurt with my own family. I was hurt because I was marginalized and unimportant to my own working mother, I had a distant step-father, and I was mercilessly taunted by my oldest sister. I was already on the road to healing from that damage on my own before I had kids, but I didn’t realize how much further I was able to heal once I had my own and I could give everything I wanted to receive (emotionally, not matierally in case you were wondering). I also realized after becoming pregnant with baby girl #3 three months after I quit my job that there would be even less of me to go around between work and home. Even my wonderful mother-in-law, would have been hard pressed to juggle three of them under 3.5.
I have a lot of thoughts and I can be a pretty prolific writer. I’m really excited to have a place to journal. I’ve never really been able to finish pen-and-paper journals, because I get tired of writing by hand and critique my handwriting. Sad, isn’t it. I’ve always been better using a computer.
I have another blog too, at The Wonder Years, where I journal the progress I make at teaching my girls lots of things, giving them a solid foundation in math, science, while also nurturing creativity.
As for how I will continue to evolve, well, I hope that’s what I can figure out through journaling my thoughts. I have many interests, and I consider myself to be an autodidact, so I really have no idea at the moment what’s to come next, but I am sure interested in finding out who I want to become.