Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wild Man's quote of the week

Yesterday, as I read up on the development of apartments, C kept Wild Man amused by coloring with him. This essentially means that C draws whatever Wild Man tells him to. Wild Man is obsessed with hippos--I blame it on the Madagascar movies. This kid loves hippos, and most hippos are Gloria. He, of course, commanded C to draw "Gloria, Gloria's mommy, and Gloria's daddy." Once C complied, Wild Man took the paper from C and studied the drawings. He then looked up at C and said, "Daddy, Gloria needs a penis."

I laughed so hard I cried.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

One more thing

I am not writing a "paper." I am writing a dissertation. If I have to explain this to my mother one more time or ask her not to refer to my dissertation as a "paper," I will lose my mind. I don't understand why it is so hard for her to understand that it is much, much more than a paper. She's seen C's, for God's sake! She knows how long his was, and I've told her several times (because she's asked) that mine is longer. I know that in the grand scheme of things this is a very small thing. But it bothers the hell out of me, especially given the fact that I have told her how much it annoys me when she asks me "How's your paper coming?" She just called, as she does most Sunday afternoons, and she asked me this question. Given her response to my announcement about my defense, I wasn't in the mood to talk about my work with her, and I most certainly was not in the mood to have the project I've been working on for 3 years referred to as "a paper" yet again.

I will now return to taking notes on the history of apartments in New York City.

Random Annoyances

I want to begin this post by saying that I feel really thankful for my friends, both virtual and actual. I have received so much support from them in the past year. I literally could not have made it through moving to CU Land, working so long and so hard on my dissertation, carrying Z, and living life in general with out them. So I want them to know (and I think you know who you are!) that what follows is not at all about them.

The end of my week seemed to have a theme: people I really care about all managed to annoy me. I should add that the particular people who annoyed me have annoyed me in these precise ways in the past, so I know it will happen again. Usually I can shake these sorts of things off fairly easily, but this week I am having a hard time getting past it. I'm hoping that by writing about it, I'll feel better.

Annoyance #1
*Edited b/c, for some reason, I'm not comfortable with making this annoyance so public.

Annoyance #2 and #3
I'm annoyed with my mom and sister for the exact same reason, so I figured I'd put them together.

First, I totally get that neither my mom nor my sister understands what it means to get a Ph.D. They just don't. They try, but it is just outside their realm of experience. I've accepted that this means that they will never be as excited about my accomplishments as I am, and 95% of the time, I'm ok with that. This week, however, was a really big week for me. I finally got the go ahead to schedule my defense. My adviser is confident enough in what I've already finished that she thinks what I'm still working on will match it. This means the six year journey I've been on is rapidly coming to an end. This also means that my decision to have kids while working on my dissertation did not affect my work. In fact, my adviser recently told me how much my writing has improved in the last year, which she attributed to how focused I've had to become since having Wild Man.

When I called my mom to tell her this, I didn't expect a huge reaction, but I did expect at least a congratulations, M! I'm really proud of you. Instead she said this: "Well, are you sure you should be traveling then? That's only about 6 weeks before your due. Really, M, I don't understand your priorities. Can't the defense wait another semester?" HELLO! No, it can't wait another semester. It has to happen now. I have to go on the job market in the fall. C and I want to solidify our positions (or at least try to) at CU, and none of that can happen if I'm ABD. I just can't. And, frankly, we can't afford to pay my fees for another semester, especially not with a second baby on the way. I was so upset by her response that I truly didn't know what to say. I just said, "I've cleared it with my midwife; she thinks I'll be fine to travel. It is, of course, a risk, but it is a risk I'm willing to take." I then changed the subject.

When I told my sister, through email, she didn't even acknowledge it. Instead she sent me a long email about how she hates her job and how she thinks she's inherited all of our mother's mental issues (our mom is bipolar). What bothers me most about this is that my sister is on Facebook, so she knew when I'd scheduled the defense even before I told her. Given FB's crazy new interface, she also saw all my friends congratulate me. Still, she said nothing.

To give credit where credit is due, my dad told me he is very proud of me and that he wants a bound copy of my dissertation to put next to his copy of C's. In fact, he said, "I really like having a bound copy of C's, but I will be taking yours to work and telling everyone: Look, my daughter wrote this." The funny thing is, my dad will actually read my dissertation and will talk to me about it. He read C's, and they had a long conversation about it. My dad may not always be the physical presence that I need, but he doesn't hesitate to tell me when he's proud of me. C's mom even offered some sincere congratulations, telling me it will be nice to have a doctor for a daughter-in-law. I just wish my mom and sister had stepped up.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fancy Shoes

Wild Man has recently become enamored of my high heels. He loves to put them on and clomp around in them when we're getting ready in the morning and right before bath time. He particularly enjoys this black, pointy-toe pair. He enjoys them so much, in fact, he insisted upon wearing them last night as he went to the bathroom. Given all my posts on boys and gender, I had to share this one!

*Please note: this photo has disappeared.

Proof that I am, in fact, pregnant

Given yesterday's post, I thought I'd post a belly shot as a reminder to myself that I am, in fact, almost 7 months pregnant.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oh, right, I'm having a baby. . .

Yesterday I ran into a colleague whom I haven't seen since the beginning of the semester. She teaches part-time in the Women's Studies department at CU, just as I do, so when we do see each other we always have a lot to talk about. Well, the last time she saw me I wasn't showing nearly as much as I am now, and I'm fairly certain I was sitting down. Yesterday I was in the Women's Studies office making some copies when she walked in. I had my back to her, and as I turned around she said, "Wow, M! I didn't think it had been that long since we've seen each other!" She then offered her congratulations and we chatted for a few minutes.

I ran into her about an hour later just as I was leaving our office (I share the office with this colleague and 3 others). She apologized for not realizing I was pregnant, and I said something like, "Oh, don't worry about it. I actually haven't told a lot of people, and to be honest, I've been so focused on my dissertation that sometimes I even forget myself." She then asked, "When are you due?" Without pausing, I said "May 6th." She replied, "That's soon! Are you ready?" And I said, "Well, I'm revising my last chapter and working on my introdcution." She looked totally puzzled, and I suddenly realized she was asking about the baby, not the dissertation or my defense. I laughed and explained what I meant and then clarified that I'm not due until mid-June.

I guess I should try harder to remember I'm having a baby as well as writing a dissertation. . .

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Defense Date

All of a sudden I'm feeling more than a little sick to my stomach. I've gotten my entire committee to agree on one of two dates for my defense. I can now pick the date that works best for me. I think I might be sick.

Annoying Questions

In the past few days, I've gotten a string of annoying questions from both my mom and from C's mom. Every single question revolves around Z's sex. I swear we didn't get any questions like this when I was pregnant with Wild Man. I'm starting to regret that we found out Z's sex as it seems to be the only thing our moms can think about. Here are a sampling of the questions.
  • Are you sure Z's a girl? If Yetta asks this question one more time I will transport myself through the phone and strangle her.
  • Are you buying girly things for her? This seems to be my mom's favorite as she asks it almost every time we talk. I give my standard answer: Well, we haven't bought much at all to be honest. We have a lot of stuff leftover from Wild Man, which is mostly yellow, green, and white. But we have got a few things that are clearly for a girl.
  • Can I buy her (fill in the blank here)? Again, this is my mom and I give my standard answer: You can buy her whatever you want, Mom. Note: I only give my mom this answer as my mom is infinitely practical with gifts. My mom rarely buys toys for her grandkids, and when she does, she will only do so when they are with her. I would never tell Yetta this as I'd wind up with a room full of Madame Alexander dolls. I appreciate that my mom wants to ensure we'll use whatever she buys Z, but I get tired of answering this question over and over again.
  • What is Z turns out to be a boy? Both moms are asking this question incessantly. I'm so annoyed by the implications of this question that I can't even answer it. I just ignore it. I mean seriously, the sex isn't important to us. As I've said before, we've started thinking of Z as a girl, so it will mean revamping our thinking. But I know as soon as we see the baby we'll be so happy to hold Z in our arms that we won't care if she has a vagina or if he has a penis.
  • Do you think you will have another ultrasound? This one has become Yetta's new favorite. She is very invested in having a granddaughter, so she seems to want some sort of guarantee that Z is, in fact, 100% girl. While C and I won't be disappointed if Z turns out to be a boy, I know that Yetta will, and that makes me very, very sad.
Lest anyone think I'm being overly hormonal or altogether unreasonable, I'm actually quite happy to talk about Z with either my mom or C's mom, and most of their questions don't annoy me at all. It is just starting to feel as though they are both hung up on her sex--Yetta because she wants a granddaughter so desperately and my mom because she's afraid I'm going to be disappointed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Frustrating Monday

Mondays, in general, are difficult at our house. Wild Man is home with us, effectively giving us a three-day weekend. I really like the extra time I get with Wild Man, and we always try to do something fun, even if we don't leave the house. When we first moved to CU Land, I tried to do limit the time I work on Mondays to Wild Man's naptime, but as the deadline for my dissertation defense draws closer, I've had to spend the better part of Monday working while C and Wild Man do other stuff. Typically, C doesn't have to be on campus on Mondays, and as a rule, he doesn't schedule meetings on Mondays so he can stay home while I work. Today, however, he was supposed to go to campus to attend a ceremony for one of his honors students. Since he was going to be on campus anyway, he agreed to meet with two students shortly before the ceremony. I knew about this well in advance, so, although I wasn't happy with it, I was prepared for it. We had agreed that he would take Wild Man out to the park or the indoor playground for the morning while I worked. C would then help get Wild Man down for a nap before heading to campus for the rest of the afternoon.

Well, on Friday, C received an email saying the ceremony had been rescheduled for Tuesday. As soon as he told me of the change, I asked him if he could reschedule his other meetings so I could have more than a few hours to work. Well, in the rush of Friday afternoon (he had a lecture and a reception to attend), he forgot to email his students, and by the time he remembered, he felt like it was too late to reschedule. I would have preferred he rescheduled, but whatever. I had already planned for the day, so it wasn't a huge issue.

Let's say it has become a huge issue. Out of a day in which I was promised a solid 3 hours of work before C had to leave and Wild Man had to go down for a nap, I got an hour and a half, which was interrupted 3 times (each time, Wild Man and C were coming in or out of the house; now that my office is on the ground floor, I have to deal with these sorts of interruptions if I'm working while they're home). On top of that, Wild Man refused to go down for his nap easily, and although he is now asleep, he took 45 minutes to get down. Instead of helping with naptime, as he promised he would, C did some prep for his meetings. When I expressed my frustration, he had the audacity to say, "I don't understand what's wrong. I took Wild Man out to the park so you could get work done."

Today's lesson: go to Starbucks to get work done rather than stay at home.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wild Man-isms

Here are some of the hilarious and thoughtful things Wild Man has said recently.
  • Mommy, I just peed on Daddy.
  • What are these, Mommy? (said as he washes his testicles while taking a bath)
  • Mommy, where's your penis?
  • I have to fart.
  • My bum itches.
  • The moon looks tired, Daddy.
  • I need a break.
  • Here, Mommy, I rub your belly for you.
  • Mommy, does your back hurt? I get some medicine for you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Holy Crap! Students can be so stupid!

I'm currently sitting in C's office trying to grade, and he keeps interrupting me to ask various questions about Turnitin.com. He's never used it before this semester, so he's a bit confused. He is trying to understand the whole report system. One report indicates that the paper is 60% plagiarized. He asked me to help he decipher the report, which I did (for those of you not familiar with Turnitin.com, it recognizes sources, but it doesn't recognize formatting. Therefore, just b/c Turnitin.com says a paper is plagiarized doesn't necessarily mean it is, as it doesn't recognize quotation marks, footnotes, or parenthetical citations).

I looked at the paper for him and explained the various color coding (each source that the student may have copied from is given its own color). This paper is clearly plagairized, as it contains entire paragraphs copied from other sources. So C started the process of printing stuff off, and then he decided to download the paper as a word document to compare that version to Turnitin.com's report. All of a sudden, I heard C utter a string of four-letter words--some words he hasn't said in a long time. Then he said, through gritted teeth, "You have to look at this." I walked over to his computer and just started laughing. Instead of typing names and words, like Raphael and chiara, the student literally cut and pasted them from Wikipedia and various online dictionaries. When the student did this, he forgot to remove the hyperlinks, so all C had to do was click on the highlighted word (in a Word document) to get to the source where the kid took the word and corresponding passage from. C is pissed, but, frankly, I'm rather amused!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I have no idea what to make of this

For the fourth or fifth time in about a week or so, C and I have run into someone on campus with whom he has had lots of contact but I've never met. Each time he introduces me, and the person, who is almost always a tenured professor at CU, proceeds to ask about my work. I answer, giving my standard ten-second answer describing my dissertation: "I'm writing on 19th-century American women writers and their conceptions and representations of space." The conversation generally moves to the summer and if we're traveling, at which point I say no. C, inevitably, says, very pointedly, "But M will be traveling to Southwest College Town in early May to defend her dissertation." Now, C is saying this primarily for two reasons: 1) he's proud of me, and 2) he wants everyone at CU to know that I am defending, as he thinks it will help us make a case that I should be hired. I have no problem with him pointing this out. I am unsure what to make of people's responses though. The general response has been: "Oh, oh! I didn't realize that was happening so soon. . ." Then the person looks quizzically at me and promptly changes the subject.

This happened again this morning, again for about the fourth time in a week. I have no idea what to make of these statements, and I'm beginning to wonder if I should be offended by this common reaction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Progress: Wharton

I spent the weekend and this morning reading over my adviser's comments on my Wharton chapter as well as reading several key spatial theorists. I then proceeded to try to write a new introduction. I just reread it, and it doesn't work. For those who know The House of Mirth, you are familiar with the opening scene, which positions Lily, the main character, in Grand Central Station. In a lot of ways, this is the best scene for me to begin with the chapter with, but as almost every critical essay on the novel begins with this scene, I wanted to try open the chapter with a different scene. I had it worked out in my head why beginning with the scene in which Lily is confronted by Gus Trenor would work. She moves through a series of transitional spaces, ultimately ending up in Trenor's den. She loses power as she moves through each space, finally regaining power by uttering a single sentence which reminds Trenor of their positions in society. For some reason, though, it isn't working, although now that I've typed that, I may give it another go in the morning. . .

Monday, March 16, 2009

Family of Three

After a morning in which C, Wild Man, and I have sung the entire soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast, fed Gloria the hippo, and chased the cats, as well as snuggled a fair amount, I find myself a little sad that our days as a family of three are limited.

"The case against breast-feeding"

I just posted on this topic at The Rhetorical Situation, including a link to an interview with Hanna Rosin, who wrote an article in this month's The Atlantic under this title, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, which appeared on the Today Show. But I think it is worth reposting the link to the article and the interview, as I reach a somewhat different audience at Separation of Spheres.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A little reward

As a reward for all the hard work I've been doing lately, I took myself shopping this morning. In addition to getting Wild Man some shorts in anticipation of summer, which I am not convinced will ever occur in CU Land, I also bought myself a dress. I've wanted this particular maxi dress since I first saw it in the store, and I finally decided to buy it. To top it off, I had a 30% coupon , so my entire purchase, which included 3 shirts and 1 pair of shorts for Wild Man, 2 pairs of leggings (size 3 to 6 months) for Z, and my dress came to $40. C was mightily impressed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Defense Date!

I have been given the go ahead to schedule my defense. Excuse me while I do a happy dance around the room!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two down

I just sent my second fully revised chapter. Wharton, here I come.

The Joys of Motherhood

I've been thinking about what it means to be a mother a lot lately. Part of this stems from the fact that I am a mother, and I am about to become the mother of two. But it mostly stems from the media's obsession with celebrity mothers. I confess, I am no different. I love looking at pictures of babies and children, and I am quite happy to collude in the media's infringement upon celebrities' privacy by looking at pictures of Gwen Stefani and her boys or Heidi Klum and her brood.

Lately, though, I've noticed something that I bothers me, as a mother, a woman, and an academic. Many, many celebrity mothers are commenting that they've never been more fulfilled in their lives since they became mothers. They are overwhelmed by the love they feel for their children and feel more satisfied by motherhood than anything they've done professionally. Halle Berry and Michelle Monaghan are two examples of celebrity moms who have recently waxed poetic about motherhood.

On some level, I get what these women (and celebrity moms are by no means the only moms to express such feelings) are saying. I love Wild Man in a way that I have never loved another person. The love I feel for him is vastly different from the love I feel for C. I also take great pride and pleasure in my role as his mom. I love being with him, and I thoroughly enjoy watching him grow up and become his own person. In fact, my favorite thing about being a mom is watching him learn and grow and change, things that I often have very little to do with. That said, I find this tendency, which is so often exhibited by celebrity moms, to wax poetic about how profound and changing a mother's love can be a little disturbing. For me, it promotes the message (as do sites like People's Celebrity Baby Blog) that all women inherently desire to be mothers. Such stories tacitly remind women that they are, indeed, unfulfilled as women until they become mothers, and that really bothers me.

It bothers me because so many women become so wrapped up in what a mother is "supposed" to be that they forget who they are or who they want to be. My own mother had a huge crisis of identity when my sister and I moved out. She, a woman who had worked outside the home for years, had several hobbies, and a great relationship with my dad, didn't know what to do when she didn't have to be someone's "Mom" every single day. She became depressed and completely withdrew from life. She finally went to therapy and is now in a great place, but she has acheived that sense of calm, in part, because my brother still lives at home and likely will for the rest of his life (my brother is deaf, and while he is fully able to live on his own, he depends so much on my mom--and she on him--that he will likely never move out). She "mothers" him every day, so she has maintained the part of her identity that she feared losing.

It seems that the idea that nothing is so fulfilling as motherhood only perpetuates these kinds of identity-crises that many, many women experience. I wish we could revise this perception of motherhood a bit. Again, I find motherhood fulfilling--more fulfilling than lots of things I do--but I also find it hard, frustrating, tedious, and, dare I say it, at times boring. I find more work as fulfilling as motherhood, but I find it fulfilling in a completely different way. I wish more women would say just that: motherhood fulfills one part of me, but it does not complete me, any more than my work completes me. Both make me a more complete person, but neither mothering nor my work makes up the total of me.

Here is another unrelated, but tangential thought that has been running through my head.

A few years ago, author Ayelet Waldman appeared on Oprah, and she stated that she loved her husband more than she loved her four children. Waldman was publicly chastised for being a bad mother and recieved death threats for making these statements. Clearly, she was a "bad mother" because she loved someone more than her children. I was not a mother when Waldman made these statements, but even then, I felt that I understood them. I have since made similar statements to my family and friends, and most seem a bit taken aback until I explain myself. As I just said, I love Wild Man in a way that I do not love C, and I know I will love Z in a similar way. But, in a way, I love C more than I love Wild Man and more than I will love Z. Here's why: I see my time with Wild Man and Z as fixed, as finite, in some strange way. Yes, I will always be there mother and I will definitely always be there for them in every way possible, but they will not always need or want me to be a daily part of their lives. I firmly believe my primary job as a mom is to help my children be the best people they can be, and then, I have to let them go and discover the world for themselves. I want to be in my life forever, but I don't want them to be the center of my life forever. I think that is unhealthy and wouldn't allow them to be their own people on their own terms.

In contrast, I do plan to have C in my life forever. He and I have willingly joined our lives, and I am committed to sustaining this relationship for the long haul. By saying I love him more than my children, I am saying that this is the relationship that I value the most in my life. At some point, our kids are going to grow up and leave us, and at that moment, I don't want to look across the table and wonder "Who the hell is this person?" I figure I have 18 or 20 years with Wild Man and Z; I want to have a lifetime with C. For that to happen, I have to put our relationship first, and I think our kids will recognize and, ultimately, appreciate that.

More progress

I have officially sent my first chapter to my entire committee!

Today I am reading through my second chapter (which is the one I just finished a few weeks ago) to correct typos, fix footnotes, and some other minor revisions before sending it off as well.

Friday, I turn to Wharton, and I am determined not to become consumed by her! I want to have that chapter done as quickly as possible so I can begin a draft of an introduction soon. I have lots of notes for this, so I'm hoping it won't prove too daunting. Somewhere in the middle of all of that I have to get my committee to agree on a defense date and buy a ticket to Southwest College Town.

C asked me last night if I was excited about defending. I said, "I still don't believe it is going to happen. I probably won't believe it until after I have defended."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Thank you, Heidi Klum

Recently, I've been mentally writing a post on all the celebrity mothers who declare that motherhood is the best thing they've ever done and how it fulfills them in a way that nothing else ever has. Most then go on to comment that like all working mothers, they struggle to balance work with home life. I have lots and lots of thoughts on this, none I want to go into right now, as I'd the post to be thoughtful and not a rant. While taking a break from revising, I ran across this article on People.com in which Heidi Klum makes me like her more than any other celebrity mom out there. Yes, she recognizes that working and being a mom is about juggling the various aspects of her life, but the final sentence of the article is what makes me like her: "Although Heidi happily takes on the responsibilities of motherhood, she believes her ability to juggle a family with a career, as a celebrity, is nothing to brag about. 'I don’t have the hard everyday life that so many working mother’s face.'”

So, thank you, Heidi, for recognizing that you aren't like the average working mom and that your position as a celebrity actually makes it easier for you to do many of the things working moms do.


I just received a wonderful email from my adviser, telling me the last chapter that I sent to her is in "great shape and very polished." She wants me to fix a few minor things and send it, along with the chapter I spent the last 2 weeks revising, to my committee as soon as possible. Once I've done that, we can start the process of setting a defense date. All of this means that my goal is in sight. I have lots of long days ahead of me as once I send these two chapters off I have to begin the arduous task of revising my Wharton chapter. Wharton scares me because I know I can become overwhelmed by Wharton. But I have a plan. I'm going to read very careful everything I've written and all my advisers comments. Then I'm going to develop a thorough outline and get to work. I'm behind the schedule that is on the side of my blog, but frankly, I'm not changing it b/c it is still motivating me.

Oh, and given my current situation (i.e., 5 1/2 months pregnant), my adviser is telling my committee I can do the final revision after I defend!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Three questions I'm trying to not get irritated over. . .

1. "Are you sure the baby is a girl?"--Nope, and we won't be sure until Z is born and doesn't have male genitalia.

2. "What will you do if the baby is a boy?"--Um, I don't know, maybe name him, take him home, and love him just as much as we would if he were a girl.

3. "Won't you be disappointed if the baby is a boy?"--No! I mean, sure, we've thought about a girl and we've talked about a girl, so on some level, we're prepared for a girl. But if Z turns out to be a boy, I will absolutely thrilled.

I'll give you three guess who has been asking these annoying questions, and I bet most of you only need one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Academic Mothering

At the conference I attended this past weekend, I went to a panel titled "The Maternal Wall and Strategies of Resistance and Empowerment for Mothers in Academe." Since then, I've been thinking about what it means to be an academic mother (or an academic father) for that matter a lot (as an aside, this is something I think about fairly often given the fact that I am an academic and a mother). One paper in particular resonated with me, and I'm going to attempt to distill the paper's argument.

The paper, which was entitled "Knowing When to Pretend and When to Refuse: Exploring the Complex Struggle of Pretending and Refusing to be an Ideal Academic Worker," argued that academic mothers have to stop pretending to be ideal workers. We have to know when to play the game (i.e., to present ourselves as ideal workers) and when to not play the game. One way this presenter does this is that she refuses to pretend that the familial sacrifices she makes aren't difficult. She also invokes her status as a mother when she simply cannot do something that a colleague needs (or perhaps demands) that she do. That this is a woman who works at a major Northeast research institution made her argument more significant for me. What she said made a lot of sense, and she even extended her argument to academic fathers, arguing that men also have to stop pretending.

But as she presented her paper, I had a nagging question that was making me a bit sick to my stomach. In a room full of academic women, many of whom were grad students, I was not the only one who wondered, "how does this theory work when one is on the job market?" After all, I've been told over and over again to keep my "private" life private when I'm on the market. I have assumed I would not mention my husband or my children until I have a job offer in hand. And this is the precise advice that this presenter gave when several of us asked this question. Then I thought, ok, so I have to pretend to get the job, which is just what I figured.

Then a woman raised her hand and said "I did just that, and it had disastrous consequences." This woman said she never mentioned being married or having a young child until she arrived on campus the summer before she was scheduled to begin teaching. When her colleagues discovered she had a family, several, particularly those on the search committee, became hostile, and more than one shunned her. When the woman said she couldn't attend meetings after 4:00 because of her son, her department chair told her that if he'd known she had a young child he would never have offered her the job. So, here is a woman, who played the interview game correctly, secured the job, and then was treated like a pariah by her department because they felt she'd "betrayed" them in the interview process by not divulging the secrets of her personal life. Needless to say, this story made my nausea return.

Several other women (and the only man who attended the panel) pointed out that it may be more advantageous to be honest during the course of an interview about one's marital and family status, if only to avoid taking a job in an environment that isn't family friendly. And while this makes a lot of sense to me, I'm still not sure I want to tell people "Hey, just so you know, my husband is an academic, and I have two young kids. If you don't like me for those reasons, you probably shouldn't offer me the job." I left the panel still unsure how to handle this situation, should I ever experience it first hand.

As many women at the panel, a lot of whom were tenured profs with children at large research universities, panel pointed out, this is an institutional problem. In fact, as many described situations in which their deans denied their maternity leave, I never felt happier to be living outside the U.S. But, while this is an institutional problem, it is also a problem that I (and many, many of my good friends) am likely to face personally sooner rather than later. I want an academic job, of that I have never been more sure in my entire graduate career. In fact, I have fallen more in love with my topic, with writing, and with research in the last few months. I am excited both to teach and to research, but I also want to have a life outside of academia. I want a job that offers me research support AND that gives me room to be a wife and a mother. I'm not naive enough to think I "can have it all," as I know that I will often have to sacrifice academic progress to be with my family and vice versa. I know it is possible to do this because I know lots of women who do it, my adviser included. What I want to know is why does it continue to be so damn hard for both academic mothers and fathers.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My weekend away, and my baby is growing up

My weekend away went much better than I expected, especially given the fact that I did not want to go at all. In fact, I cried when I left because I really just wanted to stay home with C and Wild Man. In the end, I did enjoy myself. I attended some really great panels, including one on academic mothers that left me simultaneously excited and depressed. My own panel, which I had organized, went surprisingly well. I say surprisingly because it was scheduled at 8:30 on Sunday morning, the last day of the conference and the next to last panel. I was expecting no one to show up, which would have been fine b/c then I could have just chatted with my fellow panelists, who were very smart and offered some great suggestions for my paper. We had, however, about 16 people in the audience, and as no one went over time, we had 30 minutes for discussion. It was the best panel I've ever been a part of.

C and Wild Man had a relatively uneventful weekend with Yetta and Pita. There were no major melt-downs had by anyone, and Wild Man really enjoyed his time with his aunt, as he always does. C did, as I expected, get frustrated by Yetta and Pita's obsession with food, but there isn't much to be done about that. I arrived home to find my freezer and pantry stocked with all sorts of essentials, courtesy of Yetta, as well as a few things we will never eat that she determined were essential (pre-packaged cupcakes are, in fact, not essential for my life!). She also very generously bought Wild Man a mattress for the twin size bed that C and I recently bought him. She apparently spent quite a bit of money on all of us, despite C telling her that we're well able to buy these things ourselves. She finally told him to shut up and let her do it as she feels guilty for how much she does on a daily basis for his brother and his kids. So C shut up.

And last night, Wild Man slept in his "big boy" bed for the first time. Both Yetta and Pita wanted him to sleep in it while they were here, but C, who wanted to wait for me to get home, said Wild Man needed a bed rail first (which he did). I'm so glad he put them off and waited for me before he let Wild Man sleep in it the first time. I am happy I was here to mark that milestone with Wild Man. As it was, I cried as soon as I left his bedroom. If I hadn't been here the first time he slept in it, I know I would have cried more. C, who was experiencing the same sense of sadness and pride, said, "Our boy wears underwear, pees in the potty (mostly), and no longer sleep in his crib. He is definitely growing up. He isn't a baby anymore." Then, C leaned over and kissed my growing bump and said, "It's good we have another one on the way."

Jstor. . .

is really annoying. I just had to share that.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I am . . .

very happy to be home with my boys. For the moment that says it all.