If I ever write an autobiography, I would probably call it “Insanity” (either that, or “Let Me Poop in Peace”–those of you who are parents, will know what I’m talking about)—for many reasons. Here is a tip-of-the-iceberg, non-comprehensive list of some of the top reasons—I just started my seventh year as a postdoc (second postdoc, started my sixth year in the current lab). “Now, why would someone do something like that”—I ask myself almost every day. I don’t have a good answer. “I love science” is part of it. “This is the best time of [my?] an academic scientist’s life.” Well, maybe. I haven’t quite figured out what the other parts are yet. I also had twins during my postdoc, “what kind of an insane person would do this?!” –one might inquire? Well, as it turns out, Mother Nature is quite hilarious like that, one day you get pregnant, the next day (well, not literally, I had a couple of weeks to get used to the idea of growing a human body inside my uterus) you find out it’s twins. Identical. Without any warning signs. I thought if I ever had twins (and no, I’m not that woman who always secretly wished she had twins), the universe would send me a sign. Like cells in my tissue culture flasks would migrate together, in a tarot card/tea leaf formation (is that even a thing?), or the centrifuge would get an error code on it during one of my spins, you know like one of those “lid not latched” signs, except for me it would read “YOU ARE PREGNANT. WITH TWINS. AHAHAHA.” So here I am, a seventh-year postdoc, and twin mom. Yes, “Insanity” is what I would call my story.
“Insanity” also happens to be the name of a really intense exercise program, which I happen to really like. Sometimes I need someone burly (and good-looking) to yell at me from the screen. At times, when I felt like I was losing my mind, trying to juggle motherhood, lack of sleep, trying to be a [good-enough] scientist, and a[n ok] wife, exercise was the only thing that got me through the day. So this is a story about all that stuff.
Now that my twins are four years old (really? where did the time go?), I have gotten used to the idea of being a mother, and a postdoc. At least, I think I have gotten used to it. The last four years have been a blur. A fog. Also a whirlwind roller coaster ride. Did that even happen to me?.. [pretty sure it did]. The reason I think it did all happen, is because I have pictures as proof (aw, my babies were so sweet, and never ever cried (especially at night, every THREE DAMN HOURS FOR THE FIRST SIXTEEN MONTHS OF THEIR LIVES), and never ever explosively pooped (or did they?)). And because I found this post I wrote on my Facebook page in August of 2013 (my boys would’ve been just about three). I thought the nature of the story might be appropriate to include here. I believe the world could indulge in a tale about the other, more or less comical side of a mother/postdoc/scientist’s life. Enjoy.
Flashback to August 2013, on a “nanny day off” day:
“How I almost got to do Insanity (the exercise kind, not the autobiography kind) today.”
I wanted to start the day off right. I wanted to work out in the morning, get the energy flowing, shake off the fatigue I’ve been feeling in the last few weeks. And today was the perfect day for that, our nanny was off, my boys (J and T) were in a great mood, we all got a lot of sleep last night (woot!) and it wasn’t too hot to workout inside. I ran to work for a little while in the morning to take care of a pending experiment, got back, had some breakfast and coffee and was ready to “push it,” as Shaun T would say (yell?). “Ok, I just need to go get changed into my workout clothes,” I thought to myself. On the way to the bedroom, I remembered that I had to change a load of laundry I started before I ran to work this morning. One of my lovely cats graciously threw up a giant bile-soaked hairball on the bed this morning. Once the load was in the dryer, I decided to throw in another, just so that I wouldn’t be behind on laundry for the week. I realized I was out of laundry detergent and needed to make some more. I brought the ingredients downstairs, and sang “Ring around the Rosie” about 30 times, while J and T jumped around on the trampoline (um, well, old mattress). Have you ever tried to sing “Ring around the Rosie” that many times in a row? Well, if you do, it turns your brain into mush. So, mushy brain and all, I finished the detergent, started another load of laundry, got successfully upstairs and realized the dirty dishes really needed to be washed and put into the washing machine (when can we invent something that will do the dishes for us with no human intervention whatsoever?). Once that was done, my sweet little ones said that they were “hungie” (translation: hungry). So we went down the list of what they could eat. After about 15 items (Do you want pasta? No. Do you want cheese and crackers? No. Do you want eggs? No. Do you want?… you get the idea), I told my most prized possessions that they should think about what they’d like and let me know, and as soon as I change (into my workout clothes, hello, that was supposed to happen an hour ago), I will get them their snacks. So I made it into the bedroom to realize that all the lights were on (is it possible to teach your toddlers to turn the lights OFF?) and as I was walking around to the far side of the bed to turn off the light, I noticed yet another streak of cat vomit, this time all undigested food (GROSS!). So I went to get the rags and cleaner, as I heard “Mommy, ALL DONE!”–my code for wiping a dirty butt. I realized we had no wipes in the vicinity of the potty, and no toilet paper either. Had to go hunt down the TP, while a dirty bottom was swinging in the air (the so-called dirty butt/downward dog position). Ok, found the toilet paper, wiped the butt, cleaned the potty, then the chunky cat vomit off the floor. Got into my workout clothes. Phew. Coffee had worn off. Darn. “Maybe I shouldn’t work out today?” No, no. I was wearing the clothes that took me so long to get in to, and I was ready to get that… what was it? Energy flowing? I turned on the video. I heard another “Mommy, ALL DONE!” Ok, another butt. Once that was done, it really WAS snack time, so my babies (is it weird that I still call them babies?) decided what they wanted to eat, and snack in hand, I thought I could make it through the warm up. I was wrong. More requests followed–water, milk, more this, more that. Once everyone was full and satisfied, I sat down on the couch (just for a minute: “I will rest, and then get the energy to work out to get that energy, um, flowing.”) J and T seized the opportunity and asked me ever so sweetly, to “Please, mommy, read book.” How could I say no? So we read a book about superheroes (why is it when my science experiments go awry, I don’t get anything cool like Spiderman or Ironman jumping out of my little cell culture plates?). Little did I know that “book” was not singular, one quickly turned into ten. At this point, I was determined–“now or never!” I started the warm up. Am I the only one that feels that doing the “Insanity” warm up is really enough exercise one needs, like for an entire week? And that new fatty banana Chobani yogurt started sounding so good: “I could add some toasted coconut and almonds to it, some chocolate chips, yum. Will this warm up ever end? Maybe I should stop right now and try again tomorrow. Maybe Insanity is not meant to happen today”… “Mommy, ALL DONE!” –I heard in the background. Guess that was my sign.
Well, you get the idea. My life is a somewhat of a picture painted in “If you give a mouse a cookie.” People told me over and over, when T and J were newborns that “it was going to get much easier.” And trust me, it has!