19 things I learned when my husband took paternity leave

My baby started daycare this morning. My husband and I went to drop him off together, and it was not as hard as I had expected. When we left the room he was happily playing with blocks, and he didn’t even notice us leave. I’m sure he did notice at some point, but it wouldn’t have been me he looked around for. My baby would have looked for his primary caregiver, Daddy.  Really, I left him some time ago.

I’ve been back at work full-time since August, teaching, pumping, going to meetings, pumping, trying to find bits of time for research, pumping, and pretending my heart wasn’t across town with a little boy that was learning to crawl and clap. My husband (also an academic) has been home with our son, playing on the floor, exploring the outdoors, changing hundreds of diapers, feeding pumped milk and an increasing number of solid foods, and wishing our baby would nap on a regular basis. Now his time away from work is ending too, so its time for the baby to go to daycare and begin a new chapter of his life.

So it seems like a good time to reflect on what I, the mother, learned when my husband took over the primary caregiver role. Here’s a listicle. Continue reading

“Solving” the Two-Body Problem

The two-body problem is a classical mechanics one, in which the motion of two interacting particles must be determined. I’m not a physicist, so I don’t know how hard it is to solve. In career terms, the two-body problem involves two partners, both with professional aspirations, trying to end up in close geographical proximity…so that they can live together, support each other, and maybe even raise a family. The career two-body problem is atrociously hard to solve exactly, but I’m convinced that approximations do exist. Unfortunately, those solutions may be somewhat unique to each set of particles, errrr, people.

I believe that the two body problem is in no way unique to academia, but is pervasive for all sorts of couples where both have advanced training, skills, or licensures that limit them geographically. A boat captain coupled with an architect might have to eliminate the inland US from their search, for example. In academia, where a year in which a dozen jobs in your specialty are advertised is considered a pretty good year, the problem is simply intensified. If both partners are academics, it’s intensified to the nth degree.  Continue reading