Monday, July 12, 2010

The death march is over (sorta)

I meant to post a timely follow-up to Wandering Scientist's post, Anyway You Do It, It Is Hard, but time is something in short supply at our house.   Go read her thoughts about combining science and motherhood, particularly about the division of housework in two-scientist families.

I can attest that couples are in a competition for time.  That time can be spent pursuing activities that get us ahead at work, improve our health or overall well-being, or keep the household running smoothly.  I  bet you can guess which is the least personally and financially rewarding.

I've been on a death march (endless slog) since we got home from our NYC trip during spring break.  If you read Bad Dad's blog, you know he is a big film fanatic.  When TCM announced their first ever TCM Classic Film Festival, he bought a pass with my blessing.  At that time, he didn't have too many work travel commitments so I figured a long weekend of single motherhood was doable.

Then I watched in horror while one business trip after another was announced.  In a 35 day period, Bad Dad was scheduled to be home for 8 evenings (and ~12 mornings)!  I breathed a sigh of relief when his last field experiment was postponed, only to be broadsided by the news that he was being sent to the Gulf of Mexico to study the effects of the oil spill.  (Only weeks earlier, he had been flying over nominally operating oil rigs near Santa Barbara and they had been waiting for a non-nominal case.)  That trip took us into week 5 and 6 of the death march.

(In fairness, I should add that this was a death march for him, too.  The life of a field scientist is hard, hard, hard.  The only thing he wants to do when he gets home is to take a shower and sleep.)

After he got caught up with sleep, the Ring Cycle was playing at LA Opera.  He's also a big opera fan and some tickets were available at the last minute at cut-rate prices.  How often do you get to experience the entire Ring Cycle in your home town?  He spread that out over the next week and a half (week 7-8), so he was home some nights in between.

Some people might think this is all manageable because I work part-time (36 hours/week).  But, I work part-time because of my health.  I am officially classified as 'partially disabled but able to work' except for occasional flare-ups.  My last flare-up was in late February, following an infection, and I was put on a reduced (20-30) work schedule for the month of March to give me time to recover.  I didn't magically become well when April 1 rolled around.  In fact, I have been suffering from chronic fatigue and joint pain since then.

May and June are terrible months for working parents.  There are so many end of year school activities, especially because Iris graduated from elementary school in June.  (And why do the schools expect so much volunteer time from the mothers and so little from the fathers?)

In addition, Iris had to have a new graduation dress for the occasion, particularly because we were warned by the school ahead of time that she was up for an award.

She said that she wanted a silk dress--she was ready for something more grown-up.  I had originally shown her a yellow embroidered raw silk from my fabric collection, but she wanted a smooth silk.  We went to Joann's and bought a pattern and some cotton to make a 'wearable muslin', a mock-up of the dress that she could wear for less dressy occasions.  After we tweaked the fit, I made the final dress in a silk twill with a large-scale print.

I should save the dress journey for its own post.  Both dresses were lovely.

In the long slog, I did manage to do some creative endeavors just for myself.  I did accomplish some things at work for which I was given kudos.  I didn't get much exercise and would have liked to sleep more, but that is a constant in my life.

Given the odd 15 minutes to do something creative, or to blog about creativity, I chose to make something.  Eventually, I plan to post about them here and on Ravelry or Pattern Review.  Or maybe not. If I don't get caught up with project notes by the end of the summer, I may declare bankruptcy and just blog the new projects as I complete them.


  1. Wow. A 36 hr week is part time? I have a I have teaching job in Australia, a salaried position where full time is defined as 32 hours a week. I choose which 32 hours I want to work, so I have chosen to work 4x8hr days Mon, Tues, Thu, Fri. Paid holidays- 9 weeks per annum. I feel so lucky. In Australia, we can't imagine a 36 hour/week part-time job.

  2. Wow! May/June always seems like such a frazzled time, even when the children are older and gone, and can be too much even without all the other stuff and single-parenting. Good though to steal creative moments and write about them later, or not. I've been doing some of that too; it may or may not show up.

  3. Working while sick is especially difficult. Add to that taking care of a child, plus a household and you get an exhausted parent. I hope you feel better soon. I hope things slow down a little for you both

  4. I like the idea of "declaring bankruptcy" and just picking up blogging projects when you get the chance. That's a cute way of putting it.

  5. Yes, speaking on behalf of the "creditors", ie readers, in your blog bankruptcy, I think I can safely say for all of us that your blog credit rating with us will survive bankruptcy proceedings.

  6. It now appears that Bad Dad will be gone 3 weeks in August and I will be gone 3 nights. Is this a continuation of the death march or a new one?