I made this post on Facebook recently.
It summed up a day where two of my worlds collided – lab and home. I try to live a very compartmentalized life. It’s a part of my “success” (I don’t think that I’m ever completely successful, more like treading water instead of drowning). When I’m on campus, I’m either a student learning how to be a doctor or a student learning how to be a scientist. When I’m at church, I teach. When I’m volunteering, I mentor. When I’m home, I’m everything else: wife, mother, daughter, sister, life. I like to keep these things separate in my mind so that I can focus on what I’m supposed to be doing. I do most of my studying at school. I generally don’t bring my kids on campus (except for enrichment purposes when class is not in session. They like knowing where I’m going every day.) When I made this post, these worlds intersected. Generally, they are not good days for me.
I love my husband. He allows me to live this compartmentalized life. While I’m at school learning, I don’t have to worry about home because of him. I try to be a good wife by respecting his time and interests. Steven loves to fish. He would fish every day if it were possible. So my job in supporting him is to make fishing happen as much as possible. He usually gets out one week day, sometimes more, and he fishes every Sunday. Sometimes he likes to take longer kayaking adventures and I’ll pick him up, or he’ll go camping for a few days and I’ll support that. I keep the kids entertained and alive while he relaxes. It works. Except when it doesn’t.
My mother is about to have surgery. She has lots of pending appointments and she doesn’t drive. Usually, Steven takes her wherever she needs to go. On this occasion, her appointment fell on a day where I was supposed to harvest and image my cells for my summer project. It also fell on a day where I agreed to let Steven go fishing. And here’s where the problems began. My work this summer involves 40 hour infections, so I have to go in at very specific times to make sure that the infections do not last longer than planned. On that day, the harvest time was 0630 (Yes, I still write in military time). My mother’s appointment was at nine. Usually I harvest the cells, then prepare them for imaging, which a multi-step, multi-hour process. But I had to reach a good stopping point and pick my mom and the kids up for her appointment.
The kids are pretty resilient in this whole process. I took them to a nearby park with a veteran’s memorial. They got to run around outside, read the monument, learn a bit of history, and look at nature, one of their favorite things to do. Orion described the area as smelling like goose poop, which I could not confirm or deny. My mom’s appointment was only supposed to take an hour. I planned to meet back up with lab mates to work out my antibody protocol for staining. Only, her appointment did not take an hour. The kids wanted Chik-Fil-A. Victoria started trolling Blair in the car out of boredom. This cascaded into being late returning to the lab, a series of frustrating mistakes, and me not being able to image my cells that day.
I’m not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve developed a system for myself that works with the expectations of the people I interact with the most. But on days like this, I try to walk out of it with something positive. Steven was able to catch a lot of fish, and he came home happy. The kids got to spend some time alone with me, and I may have learned what goose poop smells like. And my mom is one step closer on her weight loss journey than before. So there’s that.
Until next time