Ann's post last week inspired a number of comments, several of which expressed dismay at her frank description of how hectic life can be when you're trying to balance astrophysics with raising a small child. And while, yes, life with kids can be quite difficult at times (it would be disingenuous to say otherwise), I would also say that it doesn't mean you need to choose between work and family.
Part of that is because it simply gets easier. Eventually, your child sleeps through the night. Eventually, your child will dress himself/herself in the morning. Eventually, your child will discover the joy of reading and will sit still for long periods of time. Eventually, your child will carry her/his own bag through airport security (and until age 12, can keep her/his shoes on).
My kids are now ages 8 and 10, and these days I lose more sleep over proposal deadlines, preparing lectures for class, red-eye flights and jet lag, and other activities typical of any busy theoretical astrophysicist, with or without children. I am also known to forego sleep to squeeze in some early morning exercise, or because of my inability to put down a good novel.
My kids are a real joy to me these days. I attended their school music programs and got to watch them showcase their talents on stage, and I am as proud of them as any doting mother can be. They help out around the house and they (mostly) listen when I tell them it's time to get up/go to bed/get ready to go. Last Sunday was Mother's Day, and they made me breakfast in bed, which included an omelet and fresh brewed coffee. My husband only had to supervise them minimally.
Yes, there are still challenges, especially juggling 4 sets of schedules at once. And I do fear the teenage years ahead. But I know my life is richer and more joyous with my children than without them, and all my lost sleep is well worth it.
*I was originally going to entitle this post "It Gets Better," but I didn't want to cause any confusion with the laudable initiative for LGBT youth of the same name.