End in sight?

Today was my wife’s last day at work. From tomorrow, she will be in maternal leave – or Mutterschutz as they say in Germany. (Try saying that out loud) It is a great feeling in many ways. First of all, well, things are getting heavier for her now that we’re entering the final weeks of the pregnancy. No more work means a lot less to think about. We were struggling – the last couple of weeks in particular – to combine both of our jobs, while also taking care of our son. Where I could in the winter semester and ‘between semesters’ take up extended chunks of care in the morning, my teaching obligations on student projects in the current summer semester have made this more difficult. As a result of this, our schedule often was a mish-mash of my meetings, followed by her meetings, or vice versa. It was stressful for both of us, and must have been weird for our boy Rafa, who just wanted to read books and play with tractors with us all the time.

Now that Heike no longer needs to worry about work, at least we will not have the added stress caused by this crazy work schedule (for at least the next fourteen months). Obviously, I will still take my share of care, but from now we will be a bit more flexible. A positive aspect is also that in two weeks we will start again with day care for Rafa. After a seven-month break (or is it eight?), it is about time. This will further alleviate stress, which in the final month may be quite a good idea. Of course it will all be of short duration. Some calm before the storm.

I am also slowly winding down my work activities, although I still have six weeks to go before the baby is due. Slowing down? Who am I kidding!? I’m actually ramping up. The idea is to finish most important things now, so that I can lie low for a bit in my two month daddy leave. So there is quite some stuff on the to-do list. There are two field experiments that I will start as soon as possible. The plants and designs are ready, the arrangements for plots have been made. All I need is to know where they are located, which I should hear anytime soon. Another greenhouse experiment, run under my supervision is taking place right now. This experiment will require my input for quality control, as well as for an aphid treatment. If all goes well, we should be scoring aphids throughout July, which should be fun – and I have a great assistant to help out with the logistics of it all. This experiment should be harvested by the end of that month. A tight schedule, but it could work. (It will work!) My grant proposal is also taking shape. I think it is on schedule for submission by the end of July. Several manuscript revisions have just been re-submitted or are close. I think by the end of July I will have an empty desk. I think I need a rest. But the end is in sight! Onto new beginnings!

Our recent tansy field experiment was prepared from 120 mothers (jungle in the back), and had quite a few leftover plants from different lines (front). They will now form the basis for two separate field experiments, tackling additional questions. I refuse to throw out useful stuff!
The effects of social distancing in cereal crops on cereal aphids. (No it is not really about social distancing)

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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