The PhD program in Russia was limited to exactly three years. My son Alexey was born right after I started it, and I was distracted from my research for quite some time. At that time, my mom, who lived with us, reached her retirement age of 55. Her retirement would have been supported by the government and her pension would have been almost equal to her salary. So I begged my mom to retire and help me with my son Alexey. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t stop working, so I kept pressing.
At the same time, I was frantically trying to find a place for Alexey in a day care center. I finally was successful, but it backfired. Alexey started getting sick all the time. Daycare was overcrowded, with 30 kids to every adult. Workers didn’t have time to attend to every kid. Day care workers were so tired that they were relieved when a few kids stayed home sick.
After Alexey was hospitalized for two weeks with severe dysentery, my mother gave up and retired. It was one year before the end of my graduate school. In that year I wrote four papers and my thesis, and I got my PhD.
Now that I am fifty, I understand that my mother really did love her job. Being older and wiser, I recognize what a sacrifice my mother made in retiring in order to look after a grandchild.
Mom, sorry for being so pushy back then and thank you so much for all that you did for us.