Friday, January 16, 2009

Notes from Sabbatical, Part 2

(Hello Moxie Readers!)

The Good: I spent a guilt-free evening with Brian (it's a lot easier to enjoy date night when there aren't set of papers to be graded or class prep waiting for you at home). We saw Slumdog Millionaire, which was both heartwarming and incredibly disturbing, in part because the little kid who played the young Jamal looks a lot like my youngest kid--something about the big ears and the mischievious glint in his eyes.

The Unexpected: Everyone has an opinion about how I should spend my sabbatical and many people to seem to take it as a personal offense if they see me on or near campus. I am usually greeted by my colleagues with, "Hey. How's it going?" This week, almost everyone who's seen me on campus says, "What are you doing here?" I find that disconcerting.

The Not-So-Unexpected: I really don't want to be a stay at home mother. I am reminded again, as I am periodically, when the nature of my work allows me to spend an extended amount of time away from the office, that the care and feeding of children and the maintenance of a household alone cannot sustain me. I fully recognize that parenting is a lot easier when I haven't been at work all day. I'm not as exhausted, I have more patience, I get to go on school field trips. But I'm also fully aware that this arrangement is only temporary (my sabbatical is only a semester long), and since I'm writing and researching, I'm still working a great deal. That sustains me. This is not my life. And I'm happy about that.


Claudia said...

I'm really enjoying your Notes from Sabbatical series. Love the comments about how your colleagues treat you when you arrive on campus. I have to be honest, that would probably be the first thing out of my mouth too: "Get out of here! What are you doing here!" (We're all horribly jealous, since we HAVE to be there...ha ha)

And I couldn't agree more with your "not-so-unexpected" revelations about staying at home. I feel the same way! Embracing the reality that the care and feeding of children and the maintenance of a household alone cannot sustain me has gone a long way in alleviated some of my mommy guilt. Well-said!

Tamiko said...

Echoing those comments....thank you, Conseula! Like the author of the Bitch article, I loved Operating Instructions because it made room to talk about ambivalence and mothering: the "reptilian head" and the hands like little stars. There's just not enough cultural space to talk about it: even with other working moms, I keep having to qualify myself, "I had SUCH an awful day with X part of parenting...not that they are not wonderful, of course..."

While I was on sabbatical last year I struggled with a whole host of emotions about motherhood and work. (Still do: hi, Guilt and Exhaustion and Co.!) I enjoyed the time I had with Celia, napped a LOT 'cause I was pregnant with Mira...but also concluded that I was really not meant to be a stay-at-home mom, either. And that that didn't make me a bad mother. And I am still angry that it is far, far too easy to make myself feel bad about being a bad mother (whether I work or not).