I've been thinking a lot lately. I've been thinking a lot about how having a child has really sidetracked my plans. What were my plans? Well, that's a good question.
Maybe I needed to be sidetracked. Truth is, I wasn't much of a planner anyway.
What am I talking about?
Okay. So, there I was, in college, as an undergrad in Missouri. I was a great student. Well, pretty good without being suicidally perfect. I had a few nonadacademic things that I did but mostly it was school and my boyfriend at the time. That was stupid, right? Yeah.
Then, I joined the radio station. Ugh...big mistake number one for my plans. Yeah, that's where I met Larry, my future husband and comrade in all things subversive to my academic aspirations. I broke it off with my loser boyfriend and started having a good time. I was a sophomore going on junior at the time.
That fall semester was the semester of many things: Music. Sex. Alcohol. Hard classes.
Okay, so as most of us who have taken Partial Differential Equations (heretofore referred to as PDE; a very, very difficult math class) know, music + sex + alcohol + hard classes = not a great semester. That was the semester I got really drunk for the first time. That was the semester I was in a relationship almost purely because of the sex and physical attraction. That was also the semester that I almost didn't pass Diff Eq (and go on to PDE in the spring) because I failed the final exam.
I did go on to take PDE but ended almost failing it and taking it again. Again because of all of the fun I was having.
Anyway, so my GPA started getting lower. Not a huge deal, as I still graduated with a 3.2. However, I suspect that my lack of ass kissing with regards to my academic pursuits (e.g. my professors who were important for future job connections) may have led to some problems in future job prospects. Some of my peers actually got jobs upon graduation but not many. This was due to oil being $12/barrel (adjusted for inflation, that's the lowest gasoline has ever been, which meant massive layoffs in petroleum and most of us geology majors heading to grad school). It was off to graduate school for me, especially since my relationship with Larry tanked right before graduation.
I went to grad school. My heart wasn't in it from the start. I wanted to be in industry. I really, really did. Because of this general lack of interest in grad school, I wasn't great at the application process and applied to a bunch of ivy league schools (with my GPA!) and one safe bet state school. Yeah, I ended up at the state school. I wonder if my grad advisor sensed this from the start?
Anyway, I was still obsessed with the man I left behind and clung to the past. I loved that radio station and the subculture it spawned. I really missed it. I just couldn't wrap my head around grad school. It also hit me that I hadn't learned the basics of tectonics very well as an undergrad. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I never had a true tectonics class before then (gosh, could it be because I went to an engineering school?). The semester I took structural geology (one of a few core courses that ALL geologists must take and extremely important to the budding tectonics researcher), they had a stand-in prof who was a middle school teacher because the regular guy had to take emergency medical leave and there wasn't enough time to get a good guy. I ended up being a wiseass during that class asking him questions that he couldn't answer very well. I learned NOTHING.
My heart wasn't in grad school, I was lovesick and homesick and my fundamental knowledge of the subject matter I was to learn was crap. Great. Throw in the fact that the research was based in an obscure area of Russia that only a few people in the world are experts on (my advisor) and all of the papers written for the subject were either in Russian (pre plate tectonics!!) or penned by my advisor.
I got off to a really bad start. I barely kept my head above water during grad school.
It just kept getting worse and worse and then I had some health issues, to boot. I left grad school at the end of three and a half years having finished all of the research and coursework but not having a degree because I was burned out and couldn't write the thesis. So, I moved to Florida. To be with my future husband.
Things actually worked out pretty well after that. I was happy, I obtained my first real job and made some money. I bought my first real car with Larry. We then transferred out to Seattle 6 months after the move but that's what we both wanted.
We got here and I found a job a few months later. I found a great job. I worked for a great company. Granted, I was in an entirely different area from what I went to school for (environmental geology instead of earthquake seismology/tectonics). It was new and interesting and I was helping people and businesses clean up environmental messes! How cool! Things were working out and I started to think, "Hey, I could do this for the rest of my life!".
Then, I got pregnant. The shit hit the fan. You can't work as a field geologist in the environmental industry while pregnant. You have to do office work. Borrrring. Then, I had my baby. Bye bye, real world!
So, I guess my plan before Anthony was to make enough money and gain enough experience in my new field, move up the corporate ladder and become this cool corporate whore. Instead, well...I'm not sure what I want now but I've been doing so soul-searching and looking up old colleagues from undergrad and grad school days and...well, I just feel like a gimp, like I've done nothing so far.
A bunch are on the east coast at good schools doing really cool research. Some have been in industry for several years and are management now. They've all got their cushy 401(k) plans and new, shiny cars that aren't compact. Even my colleagues at work have moved up and I'm just...
Well, I'm just a mom.
Some days I feel victorious that I'm a mom and that I've conquered all of the cool developmental shit with Anthony. "Ooh, he said 'ball'!" Other days, like today, I just feel like I haven't lived up to my potential.
It's days like today where I go, "I love my son. I love my husband." and then I bite my lower lip.