Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reliable Moms

Believe it or not, I have a fair amount of medical publications to my name. I enjoy writing and I find it incredibly satisfying to see my name in print (even online print).

During my fellowship, I had a bunch of articles printed in peer-reviewed journals and even got to write a short book chapter (wrote it, not first author on it, still cool). But since then, things have been a little quiet on the medical publication front.

Recently, however, I was approached by a well-respected colleague at work about contributing to a book chapter. He was straight with me that I'd probably be doing the bulk of the writing and if so, I'd get the credit.

Him: "Do you have any interest in this?"

Me: "YES!!!"

Yet at the same time, he was scaring me a little. He kept asking me questions like, was I sure I'd be able to dedicate "a large chunk of time" or about what my childcare situation was like. He kept asking me if I really thought I'd be able to do it.

And as much as I really, really wanted to work on this project, I started to get nervous. I didn't want to, like, give up seeing my children for the sake of this chapter. And what if something came up with them? Some illness or god knows what?

I always thought of myself as super responsible. When a project is due Friday, I like to have it done by Wednesday. But when you're a mom with a full time job, is it really possible to be completely reliable?

18 comments:

  1. I think it's possible. I write a lot, and had 4 manuscripts submitted during my third year of medical school. I just work when my kid is asleep at night, and I have found this system to work well. I think if you're interested in a writing project, go for it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think anyone can be *completely* reliable, in terms of things that may be out of our control. The single man may have a personal crisis, or a family illness, or may have a new health problem. There is always the element of the unknown. But is someone reliable most of the time, consistent, and does what they say they will, and are where they say they'll be at the time they will, with few "emergencies"? Those are the only things we can control.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you really stop to consider - the worried about children colleague could fall off a ladder or get hit by a car or any number of things that would interfere with his productivity...
    Go for it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, my personal observation has been that I'm much more reliable than my childless colleagues. That said, this is my first large project since I've had two kids, so I can't help but feel nervous about it.

    But I figure if I can find time to draw 10 cartoons in a week, I can probably make time for this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder why people do that... If you say you can do something, you're the best judge of whether or not you can do it! He shouldn't question you over and over again about it, saying 'are you sure? really sure?'

    Good luck with your project, hope it goes well!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Do the chapter, but don't agree to a December deadline. I agreed to submit a book chapter on December 21st last year, not remembering all the crap--gift-buying, dinner-planning, house-cleaning, gazillion kids' recitals, potlucks, department parties, etc.--that happens in December. I made the deadline, but it nearly killed me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. myblog: The deadline was actually today. Apparently, the guy he recruited before me wasn't so reliable. Actually, I wrote about that other guy here:

    http://www.mothersinmedicine.com/2011/12/thinking-big.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fizzy, I think you should do it, even if it means relegating less time to your blog (which would be painful for us readers, but it's for the greater good). I would be hesitant as well since it's your first project since having your kids but I think you should absolutely do it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm wondering what the book chapter is about that it could possibly consume your life to that extent. As an academic, I balance writing papers and raising my daughter. I haven't really had to put this to the test yet (maternity leave ends tomorrow), but for the last few days I've been finishing a revision of an article during Gwen's 30 minute naps. It's slow going, but it's going.

    ReplyDelete
  11. First, I say go for it. Also, I have a very refreshing mentor who I meet with periodically to review my progress in a number of things and he has challenged me to read one hour a day and take notes in order to build my fund of knowledge. At our first meeting after I started doing this I brought my notebook full of notes and told him I've really been trying to commit to reading. His response was that he knew I would follow through from the moment I agreed to do it - he said "You're a mom now, mom's are always reliable!"

    ReplyDelete
  12. You should do it, Fizzy. And I think it's funny that your vaunted colleague dropped the ball. How ironic!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for sharing, I was also asked by a colleague to write a chapter. I have a deadline for april and have not started yet because I just cannot find the time to do it. But I am generally good at working nightshifts when a deadline approaches so I hope it will not be a to big told on my family life.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think an important consideration is whether it is in fact of interest to you. You say "YES" so then that'll mean you can more likely make it work out. If you weren't interested in the topic and/or the opportunity, and maybe just doing it to list something else on your CV, then it probably your full time mom status will trump the chapter, repeatedly. And, you might just be miserable.

    Also, maybe he was just trying to push your buttons, so to speak, to feel out how committed you'd actually be to the project. Ya know, given you're a MIM!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. T: I am very interested, not only because I like to write, but the topic itself is my exact area of subspecialty. So it's very relevant and will also give me credibility in my field.

    I think he might be wary, just because the last person he recruited went south, so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Would your colleague have grilled you the same way if you were male? Would there have been as many "are you sure"s?

    Unfortunately, no matter how hard we, mothers in various stages of our adventures in medicine, work there always seem to be people who feel the need to question our commitment and our dedication. These same people never dream of questioning the commitment of fathers in medicine.

    This makes me so intensely sad.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Well, to some extent, I may have brought it on myself by saying that this was my first big project since having a baby.

    ReplyDelete

Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. There may be a delay between submitting your comment and its publishing. Thanks for commenting!