So. I am back from my maternity leave. Something that strikes me as weird is how little work I did while I was off, and how smoothly my career continued to move forward while I was not working. I realize this is due to a few factors: judicious selection of excellent and independent graduate students, the fact that most projects unfold over a long time period, and the fact that I have enough written products (papers, proposals, etc.) that there's an element of fast cut/paste to subsequent similar efforts.
But in my absence: my class continued through the end of the semester with grading assistance from a TA, one of my grad students wrote a successful proposal for his next year of funding, I was a co-I on two large proposals, and two papers were accepted after just some minor revision.
If you had asked me, had I not been going on maternity leave (which was more or less mandatory, and so I didn't ask myself too many questions about it), if I could take 2+ months off work and not have everything fall apart, I would have said absolutely no. I can't even take a 2 week vacation without feeling hopelessly behind when I get back. But I don't feel hopelessly behind at all. If anything, I feel a little bit ahead, in the sense that I'm not behind, and I sort of thought I would be.
(An obvious difference is that when you're on vacation people still ask you to do things, and when you're on maternity leave, they don't. But still.)
3 days ago