Should I stay or should I go, now?

by M. Wallingford

Author with family at West Seattle“I want to go swim, mom! Let’s go!!” It’s mid January and I’m taking a walk with my four year old son who LOVES the beach.  Instead of saying no, I tell him that I don’t want to swim because it’s too cold. “You can go ahead and take off your socks and shoes and put your toes in, but it’s pretty cold”.  He does – giggles and squeals of excitement emanate through Madrona Park. He runs back, sheepishly telling me that it’s too cold for swimming and puts his socks and shoes back on, but he has a huge grin on his face.  We keep walking and meet my partner who has our baby bundled up in a stroller. 

The beach at Madrona Park was one of our favorite spots, but we had so, so many.  Playdate SEA, Ella Bailey Park, the Woodland Park Zoo, Volunteer Park, Cal Anderson Park, the Seattle Aquarium and the waterfront, the SAM Sculpture Park, the playground at the Armory, Optimism Brewery with it’s great kids play space, Raygun Lounge, Value Village and Elliot Bay Books in Capitol Hill, Pike Place Market, ferry rides to Bainbridge Island for the children’s museum or wine tasting at places that keep kids toys and books on hand or a walk through the art museum which frequently had craft tables set up for kids.  We were always on the go with the kids and it was fantastic.  While the high housing prices in Seattle are not supportive of families, you can play outside all year long and the city does a great job of incorporating children’s interests and needs into everyday “adult” life.  The public transportation is also top notch for spontaneous accessibility, at least in the city proper.

We moved from Seattle to Boston in late February.  The coming days were filled with Nor’easters, gloves, staying inside, and unpacking. We immediately missed Seattle – its welcoming community, moderate year round weather, and beautiful landscapes.

Boston House WarmingThe postdoc experience is, typically, transient.  I moved to Seattle for a postdoctoral research position.  I had my two children there and grew my family there.  However, I was just as passionate about my research goals as I was about my children’s experiences.  I built a strong research program in obstetric cardiovascular biology that received substantial recognition and funding, allowing me to “move on”.  Unfortunately, the research environment in Seattle was not ideal for an “early investigator” with my specific research aims at that time. As is common with the postdoc to faculty transition, I had to find a department where I fit into their vision and initiatives, and I did.  I found several, ran the gauntlet of interviews, and recently joined a fantastic research environment in the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA.  I wrapped up my experiments, coordinated the cross-country trip, and we took off our socks and shoes and jumped right in!