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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Drama Mama: Nervous
October 10, 2008 - 3:54am

This blog doesn’t count for scholarship. My published essay in Mama PhD doesn’t count for scholarship. My participation in a panel on motherhood and academia later this month? That might count as service, but not scholarship. Unless I take the essays and turn them into a musical (and subsequently get the musical published and produced- on Broadway preferably) there just isn’t any way these issues of motherhood and academia can connect to my discipline. Not conventionally anyway. This side of my work has always been more a labor of love than one that could add length and strength to my CV.

So although I was thrilled to be accepted for the anthology and feel very proud of my contribution to it, I must admit I was a little freaked out when a colleague from my university called and asked if I’d like to be a part of a panel on the book. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited and I think it will be a great topic to discuss, but there is this worry. We all know this worry. The worry that if this becomes a topic of conversation, an “issue” – that somehow my bosses, my deans, my department will all know. That I have “issues”. Work issues, home issues, balance issues. That this whole magic curtain thing is a sham and I am about to expose the short silly little wizard.

I am concerned because I just got here and I don’t want to be labeled. At my last institution, they warned me about speaking out this way because it would seem like I was asking for “special privileges”, speaking out about being a mother and how it affects tenure and promotion. I know this is a different situation and from everything I’ve seen here they are amazingly supportive but somehow that doesn’t allay my anxiety. I have heard the most successful moms in academia are the ones that lie – the ones that say they have to grade papers when they actually have to pick up their kid from day care. I haven’t had to lie here but I also haven’t always been particularly public outside my department. I suppose someone who actually writes a blog can’t really claim to be a private person.

But I can safely say only a handful of my colleagues seem to really read this blog so I still felt relatively anonymous. I sort of kept the whole thing under wraps on purpose. I was trying to be careful, be cautious, be discreet – with my “issue”. To be clear, my son is not the “issue”. My ability to balance successfully, that’s the issue. And now all my dirty diaper/cap&gown laundry will be on display. In panel form. Yikes. So yeah – I’m a little nervous.


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