Yesterday, my wonderful, fabulous department had a colloquium on balancing family and work, and it was great, full of both good policy information and terrific human interest stories. I was so into listening that I forgot that I said I would maybe say something about being a graduate student parent, so when I did stand up and blurt some crap out it was all random.
But what I really meant to say was that I love my life. I love teaching classes in my specialty. I love assistant directing a large public speaking class. I love writing my Planned Parenthood book.
And I love being a young hands-on mom to my fantastic kids.
Having kids in grad school was a great decision for me. Here's why:
1. Healthcare: At my university TAs with families pay $35 a month for healthcare, which includes NO COPAYS ever, free dental and vision, and $5 prescriptions. I had 2 kids for FREE. ANd all of their sick and well-baby visits? FREE. (Now that I am a faculty associate, I pay $65 a month for the same coverage. Still ridiculously awesome).
2. Babysitting: Our wonderful nanny was a former student of mine and though we could never take advantage of them because of Ben's non-grad student salary, the University has low-cost daycare options for students, and the campus women's center provide 4 free hours of babysitting a week to student families.
3. Time: Because grad students make carny wages, I never felt bad about flexing my time to be with my kids as close to full time as I possibly could.
4. Discipline: My babies grew up alongside my dissertation, and I became a very efficient and dedicated writer. I had no time to wait for my muse to strike. Instead, I had a set writing schedule dictated by nap hours, Ben's work schedule, and my babysitter's availability. I learned how to write everyday, as part of a careful routine, and this is invaluable to me now, as I juggle a book into my mix.
5. Partnership: Both Ben and I climbed our corporate ladders while balancing kids and careers. As we entered the jobs we hope to have for a long time, we came to them with good habits already formed, expecting to flex our hours together to spend the most time with Harry and Jack, helping each other out on our late nights and neatly dividing our household tasks. As our professional responsibilities grow, they do so within the boundaries we have carved for them-- we're never in danger of our jobs sucking away our home lives because we've grown with the need to juggle.
6. Potential: I am not on the tenure track, and I don't plan to be in the next 6 years. I plan to keep working the job I love and have more babies. The great thing? Is that I also plan to write books and publish essays and I know that the TT will still be there when my kids rely a little less on my physical presence.
In other words, having babies in grad school-- I had a 1 year old and a 3 year old when I finally got my diploma-- has allowed me to have my cake and eat it too.
That cake was pumpkin, with chocolate chips. I used this recipe, only instead of canned pumpkin, the boys and I pureed our own. We also added a large bag of chocolate chips (well, most of it. We had to, you know, test them first). And! Bonus! We toasted some pumpkin seeds, too!
Harry and Jack were really excited to use this pumpkin they lovingly picked out at the grocery store on Sunday. Jack couldn't even wait for me to wipe off his cream cheese mustache.
Once I hacked it apart, Harry dove in up to his elbows in pumpkin guts, and Jack hung back a bit.
Harry and I had harvested all the seeds and scraped off all the pulp before Jack reached one finger toward the shell.
After I cooked the pumpkin and sliced off all the meat, there was a minor blender mishap
But really, it didn't take long to go from giant pumpkin to neat little bowl of puree
and colander of seeds.
Also a huge freaking mess.
The bread was supposed to cook in 30 minutes, but it actually took 90. That's okay because it's amazing.
So are the muffins, which I made on the fly when I realized I only had one loaf pan and enough batter for 2 loaves of bread.
The seeds are fab, too.
My helpers lost interest along the way
We had a great day-- the gym, the library, the grocery store, some serious baking. Jack crapped his room (yes, you read that right), and everybody got crabby around 4:45, but that's par for the course around here. Excuse me. I've got to go get some more chocolate chip pumpkin deliciousness.