There were some interesting comments on my last post- which detailed some of the crazy scheduling that goes on in our household of two kids, two academic careers. Some of these comments surprised me and kind of tied in to a couple of comments rattling around in my head from a faculty friend.
I attend a small regular gathering of faculty- a mixture of junior faculty and more senior and tenured faculty. Some of the members of this group are of the opinion that more senior people shouldn’t be negative in front of more junior people. While I agree that negativity for the sake of negativity is a bad idea- I disagree that those more senior should leave out what are >1/2 of the important details of their careers- so as only to present positive images. In fact, I STRENUOUSLY disagree.
Why? Because usually when people at these gatherings are negative about something (complaining, frustrated etc)- it’s usually because they are encountering some professional, administrative etc. or personal difficulty. When that frustrated person details their issue for the group- it means we all can offer solutions, maybe one of us that is better with ‘the system’ already has experience with a particular issue (how to do compliance paperwork, or get compliance folks to respond to requests etc- just for example) , and for those of us who don’t- well, we can learn from those in the group that do. What I’m tryin’ to say here is that rosy faculty lunches, while fun academic faculty bonding experiences, lose a lot of their usefulness if you censor people to the positive.
Now- I know you all are saying to yourselves- how the heck did we get there- from the comments on the last post??? Well, I didn’t want to leave you with the impression from my last post that this double-academic-career-schtick is all bad. Maybe I unintentionally gave that impression to Bikemonkey….who said…
As a counterpoint, it IS possible to choose variations on a theme. In fact this ability to choose is a big plus in the crazy dual science career thing. It is possible to intentionally do less than the max- just so long as you are prepared for the potential consequences.
Just sayin’, for the dismayed readers..
Quite right Bikemonkey- I didn’t want to give the impression from my last post that my life is hell. It is not. Far from it. The scheduling task is immense. But no more immense than any other couple with two kids and two demanding careers (quite right, Mad Hatter)- let’s say physicians or attorneys. But the flexibility to come and go as I please most of the time is a bonus of this career that is rare in other, more traditional demanding careers. If I want to take time off in the middle of the day to go have lunch with my girls at their schools, I do it. I have never missed an event at their schools (well, that’s a lie- I missed K graduation for my older daughter… but I was out of town, and that’s the ONLY school event I have missed in 5 years and I still feel so freaking guilty about it that I had to bring it up here). In fact, I once missed faculty meeting (GASP!) because I was at an event at my kid’s school.
or Whimple (whom I love to hate, hate to love, whatever)… who said…
Not that you asked or anything, but I don’t think it’s fantastic. By my family’s standards your schedule is dysfunctional. We couldn’t / wouldn’t live taking turns alternating between who “gets to” work from 8:30 am until late in the evening, arriving home after the kids are already asleep for the night.
Whimple- dude, see previous paragraph. In fact looking around at my faculty friends, esp. those in other places with 45 minute + commutes- we have one of the more ‘functional’ existences going. More functional in fact than some of my stay-at-home mom parents who feed their kids meals in the car on the way to soccer practice, 3 sets of music lessons, and dance class 5 nights a week. We actually sit down at the table for dinner (the three of us that are present), or (gasp again) play with neighborhood kids in the evenings after the homework is done.
But- I digress. I wrote the last post to give you a shot of realism about what this two TT academic career, two kids thing REALLY entails, because I believe that any of you choosing to go this route might want to do so with your eyes open (this one is for you neurolover). You might want to know that there are other people who do it and who survive and thrive doing it. You might want to know when someone else fails at it and what the frustrations are. You might want to know that there is a lot of stuff you could sweat- but not very much of it is worth sweating (like leaving faculty meeting or seminar early for your kids school). You might want to know real details … like how we schedule out our grant deadlines so they don’t overlap. You might want to know you are not the only one handling this …
I know I wanted to know- but no one that I knew when I was in school had two kids and two tenure track careers … in fact I know very few people in my current position that do. N=1.