Mama PhD

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

September 26, 2008 - 12:20am
I have a friend in my discipline whose mother recently became ill. It is a relapse of cancer that she and her family thought had been resolved. It goes without saying that her family is devastated. This friend is also a professor who is struggling to maintain her classes and research while attending to the needs of her family. Her relationship to her department is strained, to say the least. She is asked to do too much, taken advantage of too often. Although she loves her work, it sometimes takes over her life.
September 24, 2008 - 3:42am
These last few weeks starting kindergarten have been hard! I remember this from my older daughter too; the adjustment is painful for my kids. Every morning I cheerfully walk my daughter into her classroom, trying to dispel her tears and anxiety with light banter, and she grips my clothes to keep me next to her just a little while longer.
September 22, 2008 - 10:26pm
There's almost too much important news these days to choose something to blog about. The economy, the election, the weather -- all of these defeat me, though I read and think and talk about them constantly. The news on the career and family front is related to these bigger issues, of course, but it is coming in, lately, in smaller, more manageable chunks.
September 21, 2008 - 9:46pm
I taught for several years at a state school of fairly low rank and then taught at a very diverse urban public university, which I loved. Now I teach at a fancy liberal arts college on occasion, which has been great, but it doesn't quite thrill me. I feel like I'm not really teaching them much of anything or it doesn't really matter because they're gonna make it no matter what. At Urban Public U., students cried when I left.
September 19, 2008 - 7:05am
When I was a young actress in New York City my managers gave me an ultimatum. They said I had to “chase one rabbit.” I went to New York City straight out of a liberal arts undergrad which had allowed me to explore all of my interests in tandem. This kind of choice was new to me, and it felt like heartache to have to decide. I came to New York as both a freelance director as well as a freelance actress. My acting career took off after a few years and I landed a leading part in a film that went to Sundance.
September 17, 2008 - 10:13pm
When I was a girl, I took a trip to visit my grandparents in Florida. Leaving Buffalo, NY in November and flying up past the gray clouds into an immediately bright sunny sky was a revelation. I had no idea the sky was still bright and sunny in November; I actually thought it turned gray all the way up to the heavens until April.
September 16, 2008 - 9:50pm
My kids have been playing soccer since they were 4 years old, and just this week, I found out that the mother of one of my youngest daughter’s teammates is an author of a novel. As we watched our 7-year-old daughters warm up before a game, I asked her what her novel was about. Being in the military. Turns out that she graduated from West Point, and had had a full military career before becoming an author and a full-time soccer mom of 5 soccer-star children, ranging in age from 18 to 7. Wow, I had no idea that she had gone to West Point.
September 15, 2008 - 10:10pm
I'm teaching Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein in one of my classes right now, and somehow it's striking a different chord this week than it usually does. Perhaps it's because one of the commenters last week used the term "career suicide," which is one of those phrases that come up when folks talk about balancing academic careers with parenting.
September 15, 2008 - 4:56am
Okay, first up, people, ASK ME QUESTIONS. I'm kind of bad about remembering to write this column on Friday, which no doubt tries my editor's patience, but it doesn't help when I have NO QUESTIONS to answer.
September 12, 2008 - 4:12pm
“Take a stand!” I urged a freshman in a conference during office hours just this morning. “Your paper is wishy-washy. You readers want you to have an opinion and support it with evidence from your research!” “But,” she pleaded, “What if I have mixed feelings?” I urged her to try to quantify her mixed feelings as a percentage and go with the side that’s higher. “But what if it’s fifty-fifty?” Well. Then you go with your gut and support the side that feels right this morning.

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