Monday, January 10, 2011

Elementary Parenting

Happy New Year!

The 217th AAS Meeting is getting under way here in Seattle. Lots of cool science going on here,
and several excellent sessions sponsored by the CSWA, too. (see here for more info)

My kids saw me off at the airport yesterday, and I don't know if I've gotten them really used to my frequent travel schedule or if they're just naturally callous, but there was hardly any fuss. The younger kid, in fact, whined quite a bit about being dragged all the way to the airport to say goodbye to me instead of, I don't know, watching TV or something.

Suffice it to say that balancing my career with having elementary school age children is a completely different game from when they were babies. Ann has made some terrific posts about her own experience, and I know that back then, I would have found her advice invaluable. Still, those early years of parenting are but memories that I can look back on with some nostalgia now. It was tough, but I got through it, and now I can tell funny and/or horrifying stories about it. Not unlike a sorority/fraternity hazing or boot camp, I suppose.

You don't hear much discussion about balancing work and family after the early years. That's because it's much easier. I'm blessed with children free from significant medical, emotional, or mental issues. I can count on getting a full night's sleep on a regular basis. Since my kids are in public school, my child care costs are a whole lot less. There are excellent in-school programs that I can rely on to care for my kids after school, on snow days, and even some school vacation days. Heck, I can even assign chores to my kids to make dinner time and morning getting-ready times a lot easier on myself.

Still, I end up doing a lot of chauffeuring, taking my kids to some activity or another. I wrote an early draft of this blog post at my kids' karate studio, for instance. There are still times when I need to drop everything to take care of a sick or hurt child, but it's not a constant drain on me the way sleep deprivation is. And of course, whenever I travel, like right now, I depend on my spouse to pick up a lot of slack in my absence.

I'm enjoying these elementary school years while they last. My kids are now real people that I can have real conversations with. Still, it won't be long before my kids will be teenagers, and then I may well have to kiss my reliable nights of sleep goodbye. For now, I'll go enjoy the AAS Meeting, confident that my family can get by without me, and maybe by the end of the week they'll actually miss me.