Higher Education Webinars

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

June 10, 2010 - 9:23pm
In the center of Boston is the Boston Common, where there are several small statues of the ducklings made famous by the book “Make Way for Ducklings”. Long before I became a parent, I bought a painting from a local Boston artist that depicted the statues of the ducklings from that children's book. In a decision of radical faith in the future, and one that involved finding a few extra dollars that I, as a graduate student, didn’t really have at the time, I bought it and decided that if I was ever to have a child, I would hang it in their room.
June 10, 2010 - 6:48am
Yesterday was my daughter’s last day of kindergarten. As we sat in the tiny chairs and looked through her portfolio of bright-colored drawings, stapled-together stories and assorted projects, we noticed a distinct trend: most of her drawings and quite a few of her narratives feature her older sister, Ali, drawn as a smiling stick figure with wavy hair or mentioned with lots of hearts overhead. My step-daughter, Ali, is 17 and lives with her mother, my husband’s ex-wife, about two hours away.
June 7, 2010 - 8:57pm
I’ve been consumed by news stories lately, one local—within the community of “mother bloggers” — and one national. The local, a story of a child’s death; the national, the Gulf Coast oil spill. They have little in common except the way they make me feel: impotent, enraged, worried. Impotent, because it seems there’s so little I can do to change the way things are. Enraged, because the stories both suggest miscarriages of justice.
June 6, 2010 - 6:15pm
Ann Larson’s recent IHE column, in which she dissects the popular idea that that a college education is the key to upward mobility for lower-income Americans, resonated for me in a personal way, because I have two nephews who joined the military after they ran out of money for college tuition. One, in the National Guard, spent a year in Iraq and could be called up again. The other will have shipped out to Afghanistan when this column is posted.
June 3, 2010 - 9:16pm
I have written in this column before about the concept of "opportunity cost." This topic from economics says that every choice involves a cost, that when we choose to do one thing, we automatically choose not to do something else. When I think of the sacrifices my parents made so that my sister and I could obtain college educations, I realize that there were many opportunity costs to the decisions they made.
June 3, 2010 - 8:06am
The media and the sciences… They mix like oil and water. Commercial media seeks narrative personas, two-sided conflicts and attention-grabbing images of disaster. The sciences demand careful process, time to uncover truths and talented storytellers to achieve a big audience.
June 2, 2010 - 6:30am
It’s damp. It’s dreary. As I write this, I look out my window and fog obscures the mid-morning light. After a teasing May taste of summer, the sun seems to have disappeared and with it my get-up-and-go. Why should I be in such a slump when I’m thankful for so much in my life? It’s after days like these that my brain thinks the middle of the night is the best time to stir the stew of worries in my head. No concern is too trivial—“The basil plants I paid $1.25 for are shrivelling up! What’s happened to my career? Those wrong notes I sang in choir last night were so embarrassing!
May 27, 2010 - 9:16pm
In economics, we talk about education as a way to build “human capital”, which will later be put to productive use in the labor market. It is one way that people can improve their chances of earning income, and the level of income earned. This is something that my parents, children of my immigrant grandparents whose education stopped at “continuation school”, knew instinctively as they navigated the world of education for me and my sister. This led them down paths that included religiously-focused education, at a Catholic grammar school and a Catholic high school.
May 26, 2010 - 9:30pm
This week, immediately after turning in my final grades, I flew east to visit old friends in New England and to attend a writing workshop. While I sometimes worry that writing personal essays will take time away from my scholarship, I’ve discovered that they renew my connection to literature and narrative, as well as provide a welcome respite for the demands of academia and motherhood. Over time, I’ve found that my more “creative” efforts influence my academic voice — giving me a greater sense of audience and a closer attention to language.
May 26, 2010 - 5:17am
Yesterday my 5th grader came home from school and did a happy “no homework” dance. Her afterschool class that day has finished for the semester, and she had the afternoon free! She wanted to celebrate with a playdate (everyone uses this word, but it makes me cringe) and busily started calling friends to invite them over.

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