When the anthology Mama, PhD, was published in 2008, another anthology came at almost exactly the same time, called Motherhood: The Elephant in the Laboratory, edited by Emily Monosson. Like Mama, PhD, it contains wonderfully written personal narratives of academic mothers, albeit with a science bent. Both books examine motherhood through the lens of academics, and academia through the lens of mothers – and their simultaneous publishing reflected the huge need for discussion of this topic (still just as true now, three years after publication of these volumes).
I recently took a look through The Elephant in the Laboratory again, and was struck by and encouraged by the interesting diversity of ways that parents balance their families and their passions. These two books have opened a gateway for discussion of the realm of possibilities, from non-traditional to traditional, and now, three years after publication, follow-up discussion has taken off on the web.
Here we get the nitty gritty, the ups and downs, people’s thoughts from different corners of the arena as they do this balance. This is a topic that provokes extremely strong opinion and at the same time uncertainty, hope and despair; it challenges our notions of fairness, guilt and happiness and ways to judge these abstract and complicated feelings; for all of us, this is a balance central to the most important aspects of our lives. I strive – we all do – to find and feel comfortable with our own individual interpretation of this balance while our relationships with our jobs, our peers, our constraints, our expectations, expectations of us, our loves, our growing and developing children/families evolve and change. I appreciate the chance to hear - in these books, on IHE, across the internet - the plethora of approaches and choices for how to balance, and what life is like in these different balances across this broad spectrum.