An exciting self discovery…and maybe I need to broaden my definition of “science” career

I was having a discussion online about reclaiming the gifts you let atrophy due to motherhood. I had gotten some very, very thoughtful responses.

One mother was sharing her experiences, which were reminiscent of my own, even getting awards for exceptional work in college. Motherhood no doubt changes any woman, and there are some of us who can successfully combine children and a high-achieving professional life, and there are some of us who try and realize we, for our own personal reasons, choose not to go down that path of juggling work with young children. I realized, after two and a half years of trying to balance my professional life, a husband and two children, and professional work, I am one of the latter. But inevitably, when you make such a choice, you have to reconcile the person you were with the person you have become and find peace within yourself. I’m looking at who I was and where I came from to understand who I am now, why I made the choices I have and where I want to go from here.

Perhaps it’s because I know how my own mother placed her achievement over the mental well-being of her children. I’m NOT saying that all working mothers are like that, but my mother went through a nasty divorce and was embittered towards most men (though she quickly managed to remarry) she made sure she made it clear that being a financially independent was imperative. She worked as hard as she could at her job,getting her own perks like business trips (she was in a sales position), but she never worked on the issues that made her bitter. Those issues altered her perspective and affected her relationships with me and my siblings.

But getting back to the original reason for writing, the discussion spawned by the post I asked generated a train of thought for me that revealed some interesting insights. One of the awards that the mother of two boys earned in college was from a collegiate Honor Society called Phi Beta Kappa. I thought the name sounded really familiar, then I realized I have a certificate and a pin from Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society of 2 year colleges (to clarify, my first college choice was a prestigious university, but the only way my mother would let me go was if I commuted from home – not going to happen when she and my step-dad were chronically engaged in sometimes physical fights).

[Oh, and just for the record, this post is not about the actual awards, I’m definitely not bringing them up for bragging sake, because I never bragged about it before. Well, with the exception of trying to get into prestigious college of first choice. Other than that, I was like, “oh, that’s nice”. It’s not like I used it for resume padding and I certainly didn’t use it for pillow talk with the boys. You dear reader, are probably saying “who cares?” That’s alright].

I mentioned I might have gotten into the Phi Beta Kappa for the next two years when I transferred to the four year university, but during the winter break my junior year, I moved out of my parent’s house for 2 months, got my first real job at a microbiology lab 16 hours a week, moved back into school. Senior year, I took a killer courseload (including Calculus III for engineers), dated a bunch of boys before I settled on a hot engineering major boyfriend and got majorly distracted (I’d often go over to boyfriend’s house to “study” and I’d end up in the sack and leaving at 3 am, hoping my mother wouldn’t find out when I snuck home), worked 20 hours a week, got my heart broke by hot engineering major boyfriend, and well, my GPA slipped a bit. I had a B average that semester, so yeah, come to think of it, my mother probably was right to keep me at home because that last year I was a bit boy crazy. I couldn’t help it though, boys never took notice of me before then. Then that year, everyone wanted to date me. It was really weird.

Still, after all that, I went on to have a pretty decent 12 year career in the biotech field. I just hate to think I peaked at 33 and it’s all downhill from there. I’m 38 now and I feel I still have a lot to contribute.

Wow! I’m sitting here and as I’m really thinking about all I went through in college and still managed to do pretty darn well for myself. No wonder I’m struggling now. I don’t have enough strife in my life to keep me driven! Life is just too good and boring now to put that fire under my butt to achieve. Okay, I’m only half kidding. I’d like to think I would have been driven even without the incentive of my mother’s incessant drive to keep me under tabs.

But…I’m excited to report, when I came on to post this, I had an interesting comment from SpaceMom on this post that got me thinking.

I made a newsletter of the science-related things we did over the summer for my oldest earlier this year. I’m thinking of editing that, sending it out with the Christmas cards. I think it would be fun and informative and a bit different than the usual boring stuff.

I think, possibly even if I don’t make a career out of it, I’d like to recreate my other blog (or start a new one) on science for kids. I want to inspire kids, and I think it’s necessary I actually make money on it, but who knows. Lots of people have figured out a way to make money out of things they did “just for their kids”.

Perhaps I can go into children’s science writing, if things go well. I think I need to pursue what it takes to get into writing for children’s science magazines.

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