Last week I hit rock bottom. This week is much better. I spent a nice weekend with Hubby and Monkey (who I’ll have to share some stories about soon – he’s driving us absolutely nuts, but only because he’s inherited both of our unruly, stubborn streaks). We took some deep breaths and enjoyed a weekend of minimal activity, just enough to keep Monkey entertained.
I spent some time last night reading papers on my iPad and looking over the applications from a couple of very promising technician candidates. This morning, I walked into my lab and reminded myself of how far I’ve come in just a couple of months. It’s not a bustling center of scientific discovery – yet – but it’s almost functional, just in time for hiring some lab peeps.
I’ve gotten a couple of grants and a manuscript submitted. I’ve met most of the administrative staff and identified the people who “get shit done”. I’ve interacted with several awesome female scientists, and have started building my local network. I’ve even started talking to a couple of colleagues about potential collaborations. This summer, I’ll be attending a couple of international meetings, promoting myself and my new lab.
Slowly, very slowly, everything is starting to come together. As I ponder taking responsibility for the livelihood of others in my lab, I’m feeling more pressure to succeed than I ever have before. I really don’t know how the hell I ended up here, but I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty fucking cool.
Now that I’m “in it”, I can also see how hard this will be with a kiddo, and how difficult the decision to procreate further, while on the tenure track, will be. I have the option of tenure-clock stoppage, a seemingly supportive department with lots of involved parents (dads and moms), and the financial support I need to get shit done. But I haven’t been able to do squat in the lab without personnel – too many other items end up at the top of the to-do list, and I’m out of time for lab shenanigans by the time I have to pick Monkey up from daycare. If it weren’t for my technician funds, I’d be up shit creek. Networking is obs incredibly important, but every meeting I attend is time away from Monkey, every lunch with a colleague time away from grant-writing. Money is critical, but each grant is more time away from family. I have a supportive husband and the freedom to do just about anything I need to be successful in my career. Still, decisions will have to be made, and I’m curious to see where my decisions will get me.
One thing is for sure – I do NOT want to wake up five years from now and not recognize my son, or find out it’s too late to have a second kiddo. If that means I don’t get tenure, so be it. I’m hopeful, however, that I can find the right combination of networking, writing, lab, and family time to end up happy AND tenured. Pipe dream???? We’ll see, but I’m not nearly as optimistic as I used to be. That’s perhaps the biggest change between now and a few short months ago – a lab, money, responsibility, and a heaping portion of realism.