Monday, July 29, 2013

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

A list of things I wish people had told me about having a baby while getting your PhD:

1. There aren't that many people to relate to.
Most sane people just don't do what you are about to attempt.  Many people give up in the PhD process, and even more give up when kids come along to make it more complicated.  This is especially true of mothers, as we have a hard row to hoe when it comes to growing the baby, birthing the baby, feeding the baby, and generally not sleeping because of all of the above.  Seek out others in your same situation, and you will relate to them so easily.  You will NEED these people, especially as your childless friends will mostly not understand completely all the frustrations and joys that come with the territory of being Mama PhD.

2. Your feelings of guilt and inferiority are about to be multiplied.
Graduate students feel guilty all the time for not being more productive, for not applying for more funding opportunities, and for generally just not knowing enough.  Mothers feel the same type of guilt for not spending enough time with their kids, for not breastfeeding them when it becomes crazy difficult, and for fear of doing something wrong to mess your kid up permanently. The combination of these two types of guilt can be lethal.  At the very least, you will be stressed to the max.  At the most, you will require medication to make it through this insanity.  Maybe both of these things will be true for you.  Graduate student mothers might actually have the corner on the guilt market, so you absolutely MUST learn to let some things go.

3. Don't listen to the haters.
When I told my advisor that I was pregnant with my second daughter, his response was, "On purpose?"  The haters might be unintentional, but they will certainly be there.  Tune them out.  Keep on keeping on and don't listen to any words of discouragement.  You WILL be forging a new path, and it is not easy.  It might be peopled with haters who will doubt your resolve and/or abilities.  Do not listen!

4. Don't try to make it look easy, it just isn't.
I firmly believe that you do a disservice to all of us in the same situation when you try to make it all look easy.  It isn't easy, so stop trying to pretend that it is.  It might be easy for professors that can afford a nanny (though never underestimate their guilt levels too), but being a graduate student mommy is NOT easy.  Don't fake it.  Just be real!

5. Don't roll your eyes too many times when your friends without kids say things like, "I just don't know how you do it all.
You will hear it all the time.  Smile and nod and try not to say something snarky like, "I just don't know how you don't."  I've been tempted many times, trust me.

What do you wish someone would have told you before you started down your current life adventure? What advice would you give past self?


4 comments:

  1. But you did it and you're amazing!

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    Replies
    1. You are such a great cheerleader Kate!
      Thanks for the encouragement.

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  2. I love, love, love #4. I wish we'd all take that approach...to everything!! If it's hard, it's hard!! Just be REAL!!!

    Also...I just don't know how you do it all! (I kid, I kid) :D --Lisa

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    Replies
    1. EXACTLY! Thanks Lisa. BTW: I don't know how you guys do it all over there either!

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