– Evvie

Every family has their famous stories, the kind that are told and retold so often that its scenes are burned into your memory, whether you were there or not. One of these stories in my family involves a purple crayon. Well actually, my family has two famous purple crayon stories: a funny one and a sad one. This is the sad one. The sad purple crayon story takes place over twenty years ago, when my sister was very young, maybe two, and I wasn’t born yet. My mother, a Harvard-educated lawyer with a BS from Wharton was in the midst of one of her first jury trial. For six weeks, she checked into a hotel on Monday, came home Friday night, and worked all weekend. Shortly after the trial ended, my work-weary mom was home, when my sister, apparently smoldering at the lack of attention from the mother who, before the trial, had been still been working long hours, but only 3 days per week, stared my mother straight in the eye and drew on the dining room wall with a purple crayon.

Over the years of hearing this story, my feelings about it have changed. When I was young, the story elicited somewhat childish glee at my sister’s obviously punishable behavior. As a teenager, I felt sympathy for my mom, but that sympathy was tinted with the knowledge that she did work more than any of my friends’ moms. Now, my overwhelming feel is empathy. Though I am currently a graduate student whose plans for motherhood are years away, the more I think about my future, the more I see that I will likely be the mother whose children may sometimes feel neglected because of my work. And though this thought saddens me, I don’t shirk from it, because, although she wasn’t always home for dinner, my mother provided me with the type of role model I want for my children.


Though I am currently a graduate student whose plans for motherhood are years away, the more I think about my future, the more I see that I will likely be the mother whose children may sometimes feel neglected because of my work. And though this thought saddens me, I don’t shirk from it, because, although she wasn’t always home for dinner, my mother provided me with the type of role model I want for my children.


And I am so much like my mother. One thing in particular that I got from her is her unmovable stubbornness. Though this stubbornness has led us to more shouting matches than I can count (making up at least part of roughly 1 out of every 1.5 of our conversations), it is also the reason why, when I read the overwhelmingly discouraging statistics about women in science and academia, I never even consider the fact that I won’t succeed. I know it won’t be easy, but I plainly have no doubt about the fact that I will be able to get tenure and to have a family. Because I’m stubborn like that, stubborn like her. Stubborn like I want my children to be. Even if that leads them to draw on my walls.

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