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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Short Takes
February 27, 2012 - 4:07pm

Since I took last week off from blogging I’ve got several topics rattling around my head that are a bit unformed, and certainly disconnected from each other. Here they are, my short takes from the past few weeks. Stay tuned; I may develop these further in upcoming posts.

First, I considered a post about the Oscars, and/or the Oscar telecast generally. What would it be like to live in a world where the question “Who are you wearing?” actually made sense? What if there were really meaningful awards for even the least notable of our achievements—for the appropriate use of technology in the classroom, for managing to stay within the allotted time for every class meeting, for learning our students’ names within the first week? What if we had to publicly thank folks for their part in our achievements? (Oh, wait, we do—it’s called a bibliography.)

I’ve also been mulling over a post on living in the land of perpetual youth. No, not Los Angeles, but college. I have now been teaching in my current institution for longer than my first-year students have been alive. And yet I have no sense of having aged (much) in that time. After all, my students are always the same age—why is this not true for me? Bonus anecdote on this subject: some years ago my husband and I were refinancing our house, and we had to meet with a young mortgage broker to do so. Somewhere on the form we filled out we were required to list “total years in school”—not just post-secondary education, but the whole shebang, from kindergarten onwards. Since we both have humanities PhDs, I think we averaged 25 years of total schooling. The broker looked at us and gasped, “Y’all been in school longer than I’ve been alive!” Sigh.

There’s also a post on family matters that I really should write. Specifically, I hosted my father here last weekend; he was, of course, here to visit us, but he also made three presentations on his most recent book, the biography American To The Backbone: The Life Of James W.C. Pennington, The Fugitive Slave Who Became One Of The First Black Abolitionists. Dad gave three talks on the book while he was here, including one on my own campus. Of course, my daughter is already a student here this semester, and she’s taking courses with several of my colleagues. So for one day I was not only “mother of…,” which I’ve been getting used to once again, but also “daughter of…” in addition to my own workaday identity.

Finally, I’ve been giving some thought to a post on the real cruellest month. I submit that it is, indeed, February, and I am delighted to be so close to the end of it. Spring break starts at the end of this week, and I don’t know who’s readier for it, me or my students.




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