Working Mom Interview – Tara Cox

Working Mom Tara Cox is a mother of two and an associate professor of marine sciences.  She is married to Mark Grant, a civil engineer, and they live in Bloomingdale, Georgia.

1. Do you stay at home, work at home, or work-outside the home?

I work outside the home – I am an Associate Professor of Marine Sciences at Savannah State University in Savannah, GA.

2. How many kids do you have? 

2: Alden (AJ) – 9 year old in 3rd grade and Maggie – 7 year old in 2nd grade

3. What’s your go-to dinner during the week? Do you care to share a recipe?

Hmmmmm.  All things crockpot.  I also make a Baked Ziti – saute Italian sausage in a skillet.  Combine with a jar of pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, red wine, and Italian seasonings. Split in half and combine each half with cooked pasta (usually ziti). In a pot that can go in the oven, start layering: one layer of the pasta mixture then cheese (either provolone or mozzarella), then pasta mixture, then cheese.  Put in oven at ~350 for ~20 minutes until the cheese is melted.

4. What are your best tips for staying sane?

Sanity….sanity…. sanity…?  Not sure what that word means. Honestly, I don’t know that I am sane.  I let the house go (cleaning-wise) a bit too much.  Then, it drives me to the brink, and I clean just enough to not be so angry.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I think I am like most moms/parents – I muddle through and hope and pray that a) love will be enough and b) I am not doing too much long-term harm to my kids.  I am sure this question was geared towards more practical hints (e.g., crockpot, cleaning house, etc.), but my life is so chaotic, that I have none of those!

5. What are your favorite tools for time/household management?

See #4 above.  I don’t manage the household very well.  My husband is working really hard on getting the kids involved more in chores – AJ has to take the trash out at least twice a week now.  If I were a better mother, I would have had both kids involved more and earlier.

My favorite tool for meals is the crockpot.  The only challenge is cleaning it…

6. Do you have pets?  If so, what kind?

No.  Sadly, our chaos is not conducive to pets.  I grew up with dogs, and always assumed we would have them.  But, Mark and I are not home enough to have a pet.  We do have an outdoor, stray cat that has adopted us.  But, I am deathly allergic to cats, so the kids feed her.

7. What are your hobbies? 

I used to run, but ever since a half marathon 2 years ago, my feet and legs have been destroyed.  I would LOVE to get back into triathlons (which I did in my grad school days), but there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

I love to read, and now that the kids are older and can read more on their own, I look forward to getting even more into reading.

All things sports – watching them, but now, watching my kids in them.  I used to coach them, but they are now beyond my coaching abilities, so now, just watching them.

8. What’s on your bucket list?

Going to the Serengeti for the great migration.

9. If you work, what do you do?  How did you decide?

I am a professor and a marine biologist. I was good at science and thought I was going to go to med school.  During my junior year of college, I wanted to study abroad, but I also needed a lot of Biology credits.  So, I did the School for Field Studies in Baja, Mexico. Absolutely changed my life.  Besides being with the most amazing group of people who really helped me to embrace who I really am, I also found out I could be good at science and spend my days on the water.  I have always felt a little guilty, because I was not the person who said I wanted to be a marine biologist all my life; I kind of just fell into it.

10. If you work, what’s the most rewarding part about it?

So many parts – 1) being on the water, 2) discovering new things; asking (and trying to answer) questions; and 3) seeing a student’s face change when they “get it”.

11. If you could choose any career, what would it be?

NICU nurse.  Before I wanted to be a marine biologist, I wanted to be a neonatologist.  Now that I have the perspective of many years, I realize that my true passion could have been nursing.

12. If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?

Ask more questions. I realized I could have caused a whole lot of people (including myself) a lot less work if I had just spoken up earlier and asked those critical questions earlier. 

And the corollary, don’t hide from ugliness or scariness. Meet it head-on. It will only get uglier/scarier the longer you bury it.


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