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Failure

Granda is a Data Production and Dissemination Coordinator at Statistics Canada. She is an active volunteer for a wide variety of causes. She encourages women to be kind to themselves and each other. Choices are not failures.

I failed.

I knew too many professional women who had gambled with their fecundity and lost.

I was approaching 30 and had finished my Master of Science. I was married to a Ph. D who had finished his degree and had already returned to a professorship back in Canada. I cared passionately about my research, but I also cared about the family I wanted.

I left.

I became exactly what my Ph.D. advisor told me not to become: a highly educated house-wife.

I tried.

I became pregnant in a province where I knew no one. I struggled to try and finish my dissertation as my advisor spent a sabbatical year out of communication in a rainforest in Costa Rica and my husband travelled for weeks on end to present at conferences in other countries.

I spoke with one women who counselled me to put my daughter into full-time daycare. She said that she had put her daughter into daycare at six days of age and after only six months she had finished her dissertation. Only six months! I felt so, so sorry for her and for her daughter. I knew what she had lost.

I mourned.

Time passed and I slowly came to the realization that I had made a choice without knowing the full cost. “How can you have only one child?” “Who will they have when you are gone?” I was so sad that at night I cried. I cried when I was alone. It was not a problem. I was alone when she slept; I was alone when he was away. I had lots of time to cry.

I missed talking about science.

One day my daughter asked me why I don’t work like the other mothers she knows. She said she hoped that I would get a job in a flower shop. I have a Master of Science in Plant Breeding but she was six years old and all that she knew was that I was very good at gardening.

I got a job.

After being out of science for over ten years, I got a temporary job at Agriculture Canada preparing a large document about pesticide use for an international meeting. I was the herbicide expert. It was terrifying. I could barely remember the common names of those weeds in English, let alone in French and Latin. I had last used a computer back when Word and Quattro were the newest thing. Do you remember the cardboard cut-outs of keystrokes you taped over your F keys? Sending e-mail messages to your friends is not the same as calculating values with spreadsheets. The meeting was great. I met several researchers and someone offered me a position in research. They were looking for someone experienced in quantitative trait analysis. I was so excited! My laboratory skills were years out of date and so far no one wanted to hire me full-time. He said his research facility was in upstate New York. It was far away from my home. I said I would think about it and let him know next week. We discussed it all weekend. My husband said we could try and make it work. My children were young. I did not know how I could explain this to them.

I declined.

More time passed and my daughter entered university this September. She chose the Faculty of Science. I hope the choices are easier for her. I try not to think about the past too much. I cannot change what I have done and I know that I have been blessed with many wonderful experiences. I know that I was fortunate to be able to choose, but I still have regrets.

I miss Science.

I hope she succeeds.

I was alone at University, the only student out of my high school graduating class who chose to study Plant Breeding. I loved my cytology course and I was so proud when I made my first Rye chromosome squash.

I was alone at University, the only student out of my high school graduating class who chose to study Plant Breeding. I loved my cytology course and I was so proud when I made my first Rye chromosome squash.

Working on my Masters of Agriculture with my pitchfork.

Working on my Masters of Agriculture with my pitchfork.

And then we got married, both graduate students and money was tight. I bought my dress for $50 at a second hand shop. I didn’t want to spend too much money because I was saving up to buy a good tent.

And then we got married, both graduate students and money was tight. I bought my dress for $50 at a second hand shop. I didn’t want to spend too much money because I was saving up to buy a good tent.

We spent our first Sabbatical living in Grenoble, France. We brought our bikes, and the fancy baby seat I had purchased at Canadian Tire. It was the first front-riding seat that I had ever seen and it had been invented here in Ottawa. Too bad that I only brought one.  I had many, many people stop me in the street asking to buy the seat. I could have sold hundreds of them

We spent our first Sabbatical living in Grenoble, France. We brought our bikes, and the fancy baby seat I had purchased at Canadian Tire. It was the first front-riding seat that I had ever seen and it had been invented here in Ottawa. Too bad that I only brought one. I had many, many people stop me in the street asking to buy the seat. I could have sold hundreds of them.

We named her after Demeter’s daughter, the goddess of spring. She named him Maxwell.  Lucky for him we talked her out of her first naming choice, which had been 'Princess Beauty'

We named her after Demeter’s daughter, the goddess of spring. She named him Maxwell. Lucky for him we talked her out of her first naming choice, which had been “Princess Beauty”.

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