Petunia is refusing to take a pacifier. I've bought just about every type I can find, and so far I have gotten her to suck on only one of them (a Soothie) and she's done that exactly five times. I know that lots of kids never take pacifiers, and that it will be OK. Still, I miss having the all-powerful binky in my bag of baby soothing tricks! Instead, we do a lot of bouncing, to music. She seems to really like music.
Pumpkin, on the other hand, is still very attached to her binky. We are constantly pulling the binky out of her mouth and asking her to repeat herself so that we can understand her. We're in the midst of a long gradual process of getting her to give up her binky (Hubby is a little more gung ho on this than I am at this point).
The fact that I'm desperately trying to get one child to take a pacifier even while I'm trying to get the other one to give it up is an example of both the absurdities that come with parenting and the most valuable lesson I have learned as a mother: that everything is a phase. Some phases are more fun than others, but they all pass.
I was thinking about this today as I read the comments on Female Science Professor's post asking her childless readers why they have chosen not to have kids. I found the answers to be pretty depressing. I am not one of those parents who thinks everyone's life would be improved by having children. I love my kids, and I am very happy with my life, but I recognize that the decision to have kids involves a trade offs in your life, and that for some people, the things they would gain do not outweigh the things they would have to give up. I understand that some people think that the world doesn't need more people, even if I don't agree with their arguments. However, a large number of women posted that they didn't have kids because they didn't think they could combine motherhood with science. And that makes me sad, because for me, it has worked out just fine.
I don't know that much about life as an academic scientist. Perhaps it is a much more demanding career than that of an industry scientist. However, I have come across several blogs of women who do combine academic science and motherhood. These women seem reasonably happy and successful. I worry that the idea that you can't combine motherhood and a career in academic science has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is too bad for the women who are scared away from science, and too bad for science- many of these women are no doubt talented scientists who would ask interesting questions.
I also wonder about the idea that your life needs to follow a straight path, with a career that is always progressing to greater and greater things at its center. If you'd asked me in graduate school, that is probably the sort of life I would have imagined for myself. It is not, however, how I am experiencing my life now. I now see life as a series of phases. In some phases, my career has taken center stage, and I've focused most of my energies on it. In other phases, my career has chugged along at a steady state, but not really grown, and I've focused my energies elsewhere- travel and motherhood being the two things that spring to mind. Perhaps I am being naive, but I think that when (if?*) I want to focus more exclusively on my career again, I will be able to do so.** And even if I find that I have somehow taken an irreversible step to the side, and can't get back on a high growth track, I don't think I'll regret any of my decisions. My life is richer for having had these other phases in it.
*I find that the aspect of my pre-baby life that I miss the most is not more hours to dedicate to my work, but the freedom to travel. So maybe I will never want to focus so much on my career again. Maybe I'll want to travel again! And that would be fine, too. I don't think a career has to be high growth to be meaningful.
**I realize that the realities of the tenure clock may make this attitude more difficult to have in academia, at least until tenure has been achieved.