It was supposed to be the best day ever…

It was supposed to be the best day ever…

Landing an object that could fit in the back of your car on a comet too small to accommodate a few holes of golf over 500 million kilometres from here with 10-year old technology that has been travelling in the forbidding cold of interplanetary space for a decade? Yeah, that’s something to be proud of. And then there was the shirt and the comment(1)…

While the faux-pas was really bad, Dr. Matt Taylor must have felt like he was being hit by a truck on the most important day of his professional life when the #shirtstorm hit the fan.

In the video below he is apologising and you can clearly see that his mistake spoilt it for himself way more than for women scientists and aspiring girls worldwide. His apology is not shallow, it’s really, really, really hard! Matt Taylor is an individual who found himself completely exposed, being the target of a storm of disapproval. Imagine yourself in his shoes for a second. For a day you’re all over the internet, and then it turns sour. You might as well be naked (pun not intended) in front of a crowd of hungry predators. It’s the sort of horror humiliation scenario that should not happen anymore once you leave primary school(2)…

This episode shows the power that we (whoever joins in this cause) have. We must remember that and we should use it wisely, especially when it targets one individual! A person can be broken with that amount of public opprobrium.

Thank you Matt Taylor for the apology. Sorry your big day got spoilt like that. It’s a very high price to pay for a stupid choice.

And it takes nothing away from the amazing feat of landing a probe on a comet, we’re all in utter awe of the whole team!

Can we please put it aside now and get to the science?

The cause of women in STEM will keep making progress thanks to our common voice but there’s really no use to bash Matt Taylor anymore, he’s been *punished* more than enough!

(1) The shirt: Scantily clad cartoon women in sexually suggestive poses. Apparently a reference to some Sci-Fi saga. The comment: “She’s sexy but I never said shes easy…” said about the comet, apparently trying to be funny.

(2) Horror humiliation scenario that happens in school: Like the day you have the school show and it’s a really big deal and it’s such a big deal that you wet yourself on stage and all the parents and teachers and all the other kids see it and make fun of you.

Feeling the love grow

In my TEDx talk on motherhood, I mentioned that love for a child grows. The talk is too short to give depth to all the concepts I carefully inserted into it but every so often, one of them hits me again and it’s like crashing into a barn door… of love. Today, it’s the feeling of growing love.

Love is not a quantity. We seem to be taught that by being asked who is our ‘best’ friend when we are children, but that’s clearly rubbish. No, love is not a quantity. It’s not just quality either. I can love people immensely but have very little to do with them. It’s not about deep or shallow either. It’s about how much we are invested in someone. The more I am invested in loving you, the “more” I love you.

This afternoon, I came across a photograph of my newborn son on day one. He is 5 and a half months today and when I saw that photo, it hit me. I recognised him so well in that little newborn face already! I saw his manners, his facial expressions, all his little quirks in that photo. I saw so much more of him than I did in the three-dimensional, multi-sensory real life when I was holding him a few hours after probably our most violent interaction ever: my labour, his birth.

So why did I see so many more dimensions of him by looking at a projection of a moment than in the truth of reality? Because I know him so much more now. I have spent almost 6 months pretty much 24/7 with him. That helps. It may seem obvious, but there’s more to it than that.

That’s exactly what I mean with “Love grows”. It’s like a rendering of a fractal. At first, you see a pretty blob. Then, you spend the rest of your life looking and looking, seeing more detail, seeing more personality, and the more you look, the more there is to see.

Since that photograph, he has grown and developed, sure. But on that photo, he is himself already, and that’s what is so amazing. He was not ‘a blank slate’ at all. He was a complex, beautiful person then already. And all the richness of his individuality had not yet amalgamated in my mind and in my heart to form “my son” yet. But it has started to do so and it will keep doing so, and it will keep evolving as life flies by.

Already, when I look at a picture of my son’s first smile, it’s like an accelerated flashback packed with every smiling moment we’ve shared together so far. And as time races and experience adds up, the memories themselves may become less detailed and realistic but I don’t forget. The memories take root in me as something I can’t describe with images or words anymore. I just feel it, I feel him. It’s love. I’m forever bonded and vulnerable to that beautiful person; I’m not whole without him anymore. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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