• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Long Distance Mom: Into the Darkness

A family review.

May 22, 2013

This title is not meant to be negative. As all Trekkies recognize, it refers to the latest Hollywood version of the Star Trek series (J.J. Abrams-style), now telling prequel stories of Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, et al.  My kids — Nick and Katie, my ex — Jeff, and myself went to a midnight showing recently in Florida.  I only fell asleep once or twice.  (I now find Chris Pine more tolerable, but still miss Patrick Stewart.  Shatner is so last century…)

The outing seems an appropriate metaphor for my last Long Distance Mom column.  Katie graduates from high school next week.  Nick just finished his first semester of college.  Jeff is trying to open a restaurant.  Ted and I are working on a film project in Venice.  I will start to repay the decade of debt I’ve accrued and some of the carbon I’ve put into the atmosphere with my travel, but not until we go to Italy this summer for study abroad programs and salves for our crises (mid-life and teenage).

I wish to thank the original writers of the "Mama PhD" book/columns (particularly Aeron), as you all located a much-needed arena for expression—figuring out how a PhD can work for Moms.  Since many of the original bloggers have children who are in college now, we are welcoming in a new crew of writers to tell us how they attempt to balance life in the academy, parent young kids, write, cook, clean the house, remain romantic and stay sane—probably in that order.  It’s the psychological benefits of blogging—including the negative moments--that have been indispensable to me (and 3.9 million other Mom bloggers). 

Since my family has “strange new worlds” to explore (I know, I know—I’ll stop with the Trekkie metaphors soon), I’ll let the next generation have the last word:


I love Chris Pine.


I’ve always found the famous, (dare I say… bold?), lines regarding the mission of Star Trek’s Enterprise oddly profound and comforting, though I could never quite put my finger on what it meant to me. Now, on the precipice of adolescence, staring into the void of uncertainty that is adulthood, I’m beginning to understand. It’s a shock to realize after years practically wasted, cocooned comfortably in the constricting apparatus of high school, that you have a very unclear idea of who exactly you are. Simply hatching hasn’t been enough; I’m still shedding pieces, trying not to leave anything important behind. That being said, the metamorphosis of an anxious nineteen year old is far too graceless to keep up the butterfly metaphor. If I had wings to unfurl, I’d be writing about how awesome flying is. So here I am, at my afore-mentioned precipice, getting ready to jump. 

Jump to what exactly? It remains to be seen. A new college, a new group of friends, a new city, perhaps even a successful attempt at facial hair all loom in the distance as mirages of my possible futures. The gravity of my decision makes it hard to hope for a good outcome. High expectations argue with lower ones over which one is more realistic. In these moments before the leap, all the childhood angst and fear of the unknown bubble up and I assume the worse. The lyrics of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” come to mind. I imagine myself floating in space, shot out of the airlock of life for making the wrong choice, doomed to suffocate on regret and monthly debt payments for the rest of my pathetic existence.  There, during those moments of self-prophesized negativity, is where the timeless message of Star Trek comforts me the most. The somber words of Kirk, Spock and Picard instill a hope that makes even deep space travel seem less terrifying, because ultimately, it isn’t about the destination or the outcome. At the risk of sounding like a gift card, it’s about the journey and the experiences you’ll have while on it. 

Thus I prepare for my descent into self-discovery, unhurried and hopeful. Queue epic trumpet arpeggios. Initiate warp drive. Second star on the right… and straight on ‘til morning. 




Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top