This week was one in which I ceded a lot of control. I like control. I like to micromanage. I like to be responsible, needed, necessary, and in a leadership position. I have always had a very hard time giving any of this up – just ask my poor vice-president when I was running my high school’s student council. He had many zany ideas. I firmly squelched all of them. I have regretting not letting him test his wings at least a few times for years now, but it also took me years to think I’d likely made a mistake in how I’d handled him.
Bygones, here’s what happened this week:
- My lab did field work for a day. Post-field, we had to process some samples for a collaborator, while everything we will use got tossed in the -80 freezer. I had to leave, so I left my team to prep the samples. I felt guilty, mainly because it had been a long day for all of us already.
- The following day, I set my team up to clean up our sampling equipment, which involves a lot of very tedious pumping of bleach solutions back and forth between carboys and through tubing, followed by endless rinses. I had back-to-back meetings all day, so left them to do it. I felt guilty, but also none of my supervisors would have been present for this – it is the right sort of thing to be delegating.
- I sent a very rough draft of a paper to my student, as I have asked her to make a figure for it. I have never sent such an unpolished piece of work to anyone, let alone a mentee, and it was really hard for me to do it. But she needs to see the content, and, frankly, I need some help with this paper. So I sucked it up, explained the rationale of the various sections and notes to myself in italic, asked for her input and edits, and sent it.
- I left on Wednesday night, drove to Quintessential College Town in Upstate Nearby State, spent a full day at Ivied University meeting with very interesting and preeminent scientists, gave a talk in the late afternoon, had a brief but interesting “meet the speaker” happy hour, and drove the ~5 hours back home, arriving at 11 pm on Thursday night. I was gone for 27 hours, the longest I have been away from Spud in his lifetime. It was my first overnight trip, and Pea’s first night with Spud on his own*. I did not feel guilty, but only because I was too stressed and worried, and because I had wedged this trip into as small a timeline as possible, to be home for at least one of the two bed times.
All this in a week feels like a lot of stepping back. I’ve been massively over-subscribed lately, so something had to give. I need to be able to let my students explore and test things, that is their job. Pea is a fully competent parent, and while I love the connection of nursing, I do also need to be able to be away from Spud periodically.
I’m writing this post to avoid writing this paper, so I’m going to wrap up and force some more hen-pecking in that file.
* It went ok, although an hour of hysterical screaming from 3-4 am is not ideal under any circumstances. Spud slept from 8 pm-2, and from 4-8, so it wasn’t a total write-off of a night. Pea didn’t go to bed until past 1 am, because he lives a charmed life of sleep, and did not realize how absolutely shitty it feels to be woken up one hour into your sleep cycle. He has a renewed appreciation for why I get panicky when Spud reintroduces an 11-12-1 ish wake-up, because they really are the most disruptive. Also, last night, Spud went down without a fuss with a sippy cup of milk after his bath, slept 8-6:15, and 6:30-8:40, making his unexpectedly-rested parents both late for work, as we had not set alarms (but dearly needed the sleep). It is possible a boob-less night has done wonders for our mild sleep training initiative this week! Spud was also gratifying pleased to see me this morning.