It’s Good Friday, a day I like to keep solemn and prayerful. Definitely a quiet day. But gone are the days when I can spend the entire day in solitude. Gone are the days of Catholic elementary school when Good Friday was a school holiday (If only I had appreciated that at the time…). Today I have a number of things on my To Do list, and I can’t put them off for the entire Paschal Triduum.
My PI (boss) wants data analyzed yesterday. My yeast culture refuses to grow to a reasonable density. And everyone else seems to be working like it’s a normal day.
These are the subtle attacks on the faithful in academia. No one openly tells me that I can’t pause my work to go to Stations of the Cross, but the fact is that no one else is taking a half day or working from home. And that makes me feel isolated. And fearful that perhaps my boss will think I don’t work as hard or take science as seriously because I’m not totally invested in my data analysis today (For the record, it got done with the help of God and a supportive husband watching the little one today).
It’s days like this that isolate the faithful in academia because we prioritize our faith over our work. We don’t see Good Friday as just another day. It’s far more than that. But we’re surrounded by people who don’t fully understand.
So I’m reflecting a bit on this today. And praying that I can be extra productive next week 🙂
I suppose I should start off my first post with a caveat: I don’t actually have a PhD (yet). I’m almost four years into it, with probably two more to go. It’s definitely a long drawn out process, complicated by the birth of my daughter, Lily, almost six months ago. Having jumped back into the academic life, I’ve had to juggle a lot. Being a working mom and Catholic scientist has been an interesting adjustment. I feel torn in multiple directions – being a great scientist that makes cancer-curing discoveries, being the best mom that takes her daughter to playgroups and does daily crafts, and growing closer to God in the silence of prayer. As I tried to reconcile these desires, I fell into some pretty serious anxiety and depression (perhaps another post in the making). Eventually I had to accept that I am a Catholic mom first and foremost, and a scientist second. Hence the name: Catholic Mama, PhD. While I would love to be able to stay home with my daughter each and every day, I know that being a scientist makes me a better mom in the same way it makes me a better daughter of God.
Let me explain.
When I first started graduate school, I searched for other faithful thinkers in the scientific community. Not that there aren’t any, but it seems to be a hidden group. The general assumption is that science and faith don’t go together. I disagree with this assumption. I have the unique opportunity to look at the wonder of God’s creation on a microscopic level. The intricacies of how we are made astound me. The fact that I can’t explain the complexities of life only solidify my faith in God. Because if everything around us – from the physics of gravity to the biology of our bodies – works so perfectly, it can’t be an accident. It has to be designed by something, or rather Someone, who is greater than I can even imagine.
I see my daughter making these discoveries every day. She learns something new, and it amazes me how the simple things can astonish her. I imagine this is how God sees us. He allows us to discover the wonders of the world, made so perfectly. We don’t understand everything, just as Lily doesn’t understand why the carpet feels different from the couch, but we can explore using the gifts God gave us.
As I make discoveries in the lab, I also get to learn from Lily about the simplicity of the world and the questions I should be asking. Asking why doesn’t lessen my faith in God, but it does make me a better mom. I hope to be a model for my little girl in that way. Questions shouldn’t hinder, rather they should inspire us to discover and grow.
So I started this blog to share my thoughts and discoveries as I navigate this new life balancing motherhood and graduate school. It’s therapeutic for me, but I hope other people benefit from my crazy musings. Happy Reading!