May 18, 2013

Hard Decisions

I am dreading work on Monday. Really, truly, woke up with a stress headache this morning dreading it. For the first time the fact that I live 2 hours from campus has become extremely problematic.

The benefit of grad school and kids has always been the flexibility. Remember the separation anxiety? I started lingering during drop off. Rather than hand her over to her teachers right away, I held on to her signing her in and putting her bottles away. We then would sit on the floor and play together for five or ten minutes. It’s meant fewer days with tears when I have left. I suspect she’s also crying shorter periods of time when there are tears, because the tears generally don’t start anymore until I’m mostly out the door. I also pick her up a tad on the early side so we can get home in time for dinner and can get her down by her 7pm bedtime.

That won’t be the case on Monday.

My adviser meeting time this changed this quarter to early morning. In order to be sure I get there on time, I will need to leave about 30 to 45 minutes after she wakes up. That means I will have time to nurse her, and that’s it. Daddy will have to finish getting her ready and take her to day care. Our group seminar is at the end of the day. I will not be able to leave campus until 5 at the earliest, which means in addition to the normal rush hour commute, I will be fighting with the leaving campus crowd which will add another half hour to my drive time. That means I won’t be home until Nicki should be asleep. No evening nursing. No bathtime. No lullibys. No goodnight kiss.

I’m supposed to be part time (20 hours), yet I work 3 full days a week, plus evenings, plus nap times. I know, I know, my thesis – my responsibility to get it done. It’s not the number of extra hours that is frustrating me, it’s the sudden lack of ability to designate family time and be there for my family during key hours.

Of course, this is also weighing heavily on my decision about future employment. I heard good news from a company I had an on site interview with, which means I will likely have a couple offers to choose from. While I’m super excited about both these companies, I keep coming back to this dread of not being there for my daughter in the evenings. Moving is not a clear answer, as the housing market close to the silicon valley is intimidating. Opportunities to work for the silicon giants don’t come every day. If I pass now, what will that mean for my career long term? This highly dependent baby stage won’t lass forever.

I wish these decisions were easier.

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