I’ve started reading for my comprehensive exams. I should of started in December but baby #2 took more out of me than I anticipated (even though I’ve done this before/told myself not to be overly ambitious.) Regardless, I’ve sort of come out of the fatigue-haze of the first weeks postpartum and have started to tackle the lists of texts.
Last week I was interviewed by a really bubbly nineteen year old about what it’s like to work through a doctoral program with kids. I gave her my usual slightly cautious but generally upbeat dialogue about “time management” and “building supportive communities” all the while thinking to myself – this is mostly bullshit and everyday you panic about “time management” and “building supportive communities.”
The truth is I’ve tried to make a reading/writing schedule and I’ve tried to get the littlin’ on some sort of schedule (eating/sleeping/anything). Both have failed (predictably) so I find myself tucking into the work whenever he’s quiet. Most often I’m only reading when he’s eating or sleeping and he seems to eat more than he sleeps.
The truth is building supportive communities is difficult for all graduate students and I think particularly so for graduate student mothers who often have little access to one another. This past year, two other women in my department had babies (finally!). It is wonderful just to see them experiencing similar struggles and delights. Talking with one another about how we “manage” the work is cathartic.
There is a lot I want to talk about: what it’s like to read/teach/research/write as a pregnant/lactating/mothering body, anxiety about staying competitive, anxiety about a future in academia for both myself and my family, etc. While there are outlets for discussions like these (mothering in the academy has carved its own niche in the mommy-blog tumult) I still feel that mothering in academia needs help to be made visible so today I took a picture of myself “working.” Thinking more and more about it I realized I wanted to see more pictures of mothers engaging the working/parenting/breathing dance.
If you would like to share in the photo collection send an image of yourself, along with a description of your work/dance, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The photo doesn’t have to be breastfeeding but could be any snapshot of the daily tasks we work in and around parenting (reading/writing/grading/performing/composing/teaching/researching/etc). All persons who identify themselves as mothers (however you may define that being/role/body) are most eagerly welcome to share.
baby, lunch, and Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects