Leave of absence or let’s call it a sabbatical…

Last night, after I tucked my boys into bed, after I read them one extra story than usual, after I kissed them all over and came back and kissed koala and teddy and penguin and moosey because "they love mama too" and after I put on the boys' favourite lullaby CD (because you DON'T want to hear me sing… it is anything but soothing to an innocent child's ears), I closed the door to their bedroom. And then CRASH: The now familiar smack of guilt and dread. Now, you have to understand that my baseline emotional state is at least 30% guilt no matter where I am and what I'm doing. After all, I hadn't come home early enough to make the home-cooked meal I had intended; instead I passed on the duty of reheating last night's leftovers to my nanny. I hadn't picked up the kids' vitamins for 3 days running now, preferring to get home in time to play with them a little before bedtime. I also had left work too early to finish what was due last week; finishing the job would have meant missing bathtime.

But the guilty feelings coupled with dread that were mounting now as I closed my boys' door were about this dear blog. I have been writing in this space for over a year now and I have honestly LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the experience. I would never have predicted how much I would get from writing the blog and so much of it has had to do with you, your comments, your questions, your emails, your support. But in the last month or so, the feeling that I have been neglecting this space — and letting myself down in the process — has become a tad too much to bear. So I need to take an "official" break, one that will allow me to return when I have more time, energy and motivation to write about the things that really excite me and that might interest you.

I also wanted to let you know that there's a damn good reason I need this break: I'm moving! EVERYTHING! My family, my job, my life… to another freaking CONTINENT!  I've accepted a position as a full professor in the developmental psychopathology program at a university in the Netherlands. It is a HUGE transition, but a very exciting opportunity (mixed with a lot of sadness for leaving my parents and brother and his family back in Toronto). Marc and I are in the throes of trying to figure out some of the most basic details like how one gets a driver's license and bank account in a country that we don't speak the language. (Ugh… don't get me started on the Dutch language… Suffice it to say that my Rosetta Stone tutorials are not exactly catapulting me to fluency). So, the basic math is that the time after my boys go to sleep, the time that I used to spend researching and writing blog entries, has been eaten up entirely by house selling and hunting, frantic google-mapping ancient little towns that I can't pronounce, preparing boatloads of paperwork for our immigration, and so on. 

But here's the thing, I couldn't just take this break without telling you how much I have loved writing this blog and how much I've appreciated your many, MANY insights and thoughtful discourse along the way. I started this space thinking I was going to "disseminate developmental science to real parents in the trenches" and I've come out realizing that I have actually learned more than I've taught. Your comments and emails in the last year have energized my program of research in a way I never would have anticipated and you've inspired new ideas that I can't wait to pursue in the next phase of my career. But most importantly, somehow writing this blog has contributed to a renewed sense of purpose and I think I finally get why. In this space, in the themes and discussions and questions that emerged, I was able to pull together what I'm most moved by: my fascination and love for my children (as well as the heap of frustrations, of course) and my passion for science. I can't tell you how rare it is that I get to explore these parts seamlessly and resonate with others all the while! THAT'S what I'm going to try to do more over the next few years: In this space, when I return, but also in my everyday work and play in the next phase of our life.

I'm not sure when I'll be back… it may be as long as September if things get as crazy as I expect (our move is planned for the end of August). But if you become a fan of this site on Facebook or sign up for the RSS thingy, then you'll know when to come back and check up on me. I really hope you DO come back.

Happy summer, everyone!

20 thoughts on “Leave of absence or let’s call it a sabbatical…

  1. I’ll miss the new insights I get from reading this blog while you’re on your sabbatical… but I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back. Just come back!
    Good luck with the move and the new job. And CONGRATULATIONS! (For those readers not in the sciences or academia… full professor is a really, really big deal!)

  2. Good luck! I don’t get around to reading the blog as much as I’d like, but your FB stuff keeps me updated. Plus, I am a week away from having baby #2, and this time, I am armed with my MUCH-READ copy of Bed Timing to remind me of when I can cut myself some slack on the sleep thing! Thank you for writing my most favorite “parenting” book in the universe, and again – best of luck! Looking forward to your return to your blog.

  3. Oh my goodness! CONGRATULATIONS!!
    Best of luck with these exciting, scary, fantastic changes! We’ll still be here when you have settled in and have time to catch your breath again. What an adventure!

  4. Congrats! I just made a Dutch friend and she speaks wonderful English, so you should get by okay at first. Also, I hear it’s a wonderful place to be! Hope you love it.

  5. I will miss the updates on topics, but it sounds like you are making the best decision for your family. And CONGRATS on such an honor! It sounds like quite the undertaking, but what an adventure! Wishing you the very best of luck!!!!

  6. Congratulations on such exciting new things happening in your life! I’ll return eagerly when the blog is back up and running.
    As an engineer who left the industry to be a SAHM 2 years ago, this blog has been a great resource. I find it a nice way to really use my brain and to read information that requires more brain cells than “Goodnight Moon”. I don’t comment often, but I enjoy the posts and the links as a way to get my brain to really work thinking about something that matters right now with raising my daughter.
    Good luck with the move and the new job and all that goes along with both. Looking forward to more posts sometime down the road!

  7. Congratulations! That is really exciting. I will keep Bed Timing in my RSS feed, so the minute you start posting again, be it in a few months or a few years, I’ll know.

  8. Congratulations and what lovely news! I was actually dealing with a lot of bad things for the past month and didn’t read the site- it looks like I missed a lot of wonderful posts. But it’s great to hear about your next phase, and never fear, when you come back, we will all be here.

  9. Congratulations! That sounds like a fantastic opportunity, for you and your family!
    I have learned so much from you and the other commentors. Your insights and thoughts have really done so much for me and my relationship with my kids. Thank you for everything you’ve done. I’ve got you in my RSS feed, so I’ll be here when you return!

  10. Thank you for all your insight over the past year – your messages have helped us a lot and I frequently refer other parent friends your way…we all hope you return, but we all get it! There are new adventures on the horizon and life is here to indulge in!

  11. Isabela, I’m another who will defiitely be here when you get back. And September isn’t so far away. Good luck with the move. My cousin, her hubby and three girls have just gone back to Aus after 3 years in the Hague and they LOVED it!! They didn’t even have to try to learn the language as everyone speaks English so well. It’ll be such a wonderful experience for your boys too.
    I’ll really miss you and this blog so much.

  12. Congrats on the new job! Hope you guys have a great time there and good luck with the move. If you ever come to Cambridge you have to let me know!

  13. To all of you who commented: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your warm wishes and support are generous and VERY MUCH appreciated.
    @Cloud: You’re very sweet for making the full prof a big deal. Indeed it is, or I sure wouldn’t be schlepping my family halfway around the world for this. I’m thrilled and freaked all at the same time.
    @Jenny: Where were you when we needed endorsements for the back of our book?! That’s awesome, I’m so glad you like the book.
    @fahmi: I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. Hope things are looking up for you. Your comments and insights have always been such a help here.
    @paola: Nice to hear such rave reviews from a personal story. Part of me wishes I was funnier or my life in general was more intrinsically interesting (or I could make it that way through my writing) so that I could keep a more “personal” blog about the whole expatriate experience we’re about to throw ourselves into. Part of my biggest fear is losing the sense of community I have at home and through this blog. It’s such a comfort on so many levels…
    @Bonnie: I can pretty much guarantee we’ll be in Cambridge. My husband loves it there and we’re a quick easy jet flight away, so we plan on spending lots of breaks in England in general. It would be great to get in touch when we do!

  14. My daughter is now 17months old, and in the throws of probably the most sleep deprived and difficult time we’ve had with her, I wrote on your blog. Your response then was full of empathy and helped me enormously, although I don’t know that I ever even thanked you for it. :( So, this is a belated THANK YOU for this blog and your enocouragement. Your book is the parenting book that I am most keen to give as a gift to expecting friends and family. Congratulations and I wish you all the best for your Dutch adventure.

  15. I agree with Ana – I posted in my desperation regarding my 2 and 1/2 yr old son having a difficult time right before my #2 was born. Your response was so thoughtful and nurturing – allowing me to nurture myself! Thank you, thank you! Although I don’t comment as much I would like, you have been amazing and such a huge enormous support to me and my family (in the sense that I just “let go” during the hard stages – and trust that I can sleep train in a few months). The Netherlands is getting such a wonderful gift!!

  16. Thanks you so much for this blog, it has helped us enormously(in particular for the 4 month sleep deprivation stage). Well done for getting this new job. The Netherlands is a great country and a brilliant place to bring up children, apparently they have the happiest children in Europe (UNICEF)!

  17. Congrulations, Isabela!
    I just found your blog and it looks exciting. I’ll read more later, when I have more time. About 10 years ago, I made the move from The Netherlands to the U.S. (different from Canada, but same continent) and I wonder how you will experience the country that I grew up in :). Also thank you for using “The Netherlands” as opposed to “Holland.” Holland is easier to pronounce but to me, it really only refers to a part of the country. Growing up in a rural area in the south of the country, we always referred to Hollanders as those that lived in the “big cities” area (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht).

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