Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Life's surprises

After putting up my first post, I looked eagerly for comments and found that I already had one, and what an interesting and delightful surprise--a voice from the past, from when my husband and I were graduate students at the Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories on San Juan Island. At that time, he was expecting to spend his life as a scientist and teacher at a university. I thought I'd probably be doing the same thing, but I also wanted a family, so my expectations were less directed. Maybe I wouldn't have a dedicated scientific career, but if I got my Ph.D., I knew I wouldn't have to be working a 9 to 5 job for someone else! I knew that life was not for me.
Larry Read's comment mentions baby David--our first son came into the world while we were still students doing our Ph.D. research, so he became part of the very small year around community at the Marine Lab. My sister-in-law had given us a big banana box with handles on it, and it became David's portable bed at the lab. Luckily, he slept alot, and when he woke up hungry, Larry or one of the other students like Dan Hoffman, now retired from Bucknell, would hunt me down. Nice to have such helpful friends.
After another son, Jason, and getting our Ph.D.s, we spent a year in Detroit, then on Naples, Italy. Then Greg got a job at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. David was now 4 and Jason was 2, and I began to think about how I could use my scientific training and also be home with the boys. So many women are faced with this dilemna, and I think a lot of them don't realize it's necessarily an 'either or' choice. My solution was to use my knowledge and training in science to become a science and nature writer for children. It took awhile to find a publisher, but when I did, I began slowly, writing one book, then another two years later. We'd moved to Missoula, MT, where we still live, by then. Writing was parttime, and on my time--no one told me when I had to do anything, as I was my own boss. As the boys got older, I gradually increased my writing time so I could be both a mom AND a writer. Today, with the internet, there are more and more possibilities for women who want to raise a family and also do rewarding work, and I like to encourage women to think creatively about how to find a balance.

1 comment:

LJRead said...

Just a further comment, Dorothy. You left the university/reasearch world soon after we were together as a community at Friday Harbor, but your influence has been greater for developing a love in children of their natural world than you ever could have achieved doing university research, which generally is quite limiting. It is good to learn that the Indians are raising herds of buffalo to reestablish their roots. The Polynesians I live with here in Tonga have never really lost their closeness to nature, but they could, as Western culture encroaches. Maybe internet and our fascination with technology will lead us further away. Each of us needs to put aside our toys, our jobs, even, at times, our families, to get out into the hills and forests and become connected with nature again. I live in a very rich natural environment and am continually awestruck at discovering a new insect or marine animal as I take my daily walk or swim. How many of us seek out the truth represented in a single lotus blossum? Your work will always remain a great help, Dorothy, and I am very appreciative of it, even though we don't see your work down here.