From the Crates: The Real Deal

originally posted sometime in 2008. It’s still really effing true, and fitting for Mother’s Day.

So much for my hiatus. I saw this letter from Shamus Khan to the readers of scatterplot on my blog reader as I was surfing the net while using my pump. It’s about academics being real people with real problems and insecurities and doing things real people do.  Today I was writing up the paper for my interview study of mothers, and I thought, “Hey, I should do a gradmommy version.” ‘Cause so often we as mothers think that we have to be perfect and all together and whatnot when things really ain’t that rosy. So here is Shamus’s letter, edited to make it the graduate mother’s version:

1.) My kids watch television. A lot of it, although I do strive to make sure it’s age appropriate. I make no apologies about this. It does not make me a worse academic mother or a worse person.

2.) I sometimes think about quitting. More than sometimes really. Often it is daily. This does not mean (and I stress DOES NOT mean) that I hate sociology motherhood, or my work kids (although at times I do resent both). It just means I’m human. For all its rewards, our job is taxing. Particularly taxing is the sense that I am never done. Motherhood is exhausting and I don’t like being tired. This makes me want to quit. And while I cannot entertain the idea, I do daydream about it often.

3.) I wish I could take days off. Sometimes, though, I do take afternoons multiple consecutive days off. I am not necessarily doing anything productive on these days (I am not bettering myself by going to parenting classes art museums or even exercising traveling around Europe). Sometimes I choose not to leave my apartment on these days. I order in food and watch movies or catch up on watching grown people TV that is not Elmo (see #1).

4.) I feel anxious about my work almost all the time. That it’s not good enough. That my children will grow up to be maladjusted adults. That they’ll hate me for something I did to them during their childhood. That I’m a fraud. That if they gave out licenses to be parents I wouldn’t get one. That I should be doing more of it by spending more time with my kids. That it will never be done and I will be tired for the rest of my life (see #2).

I KNOW there are mothers who feel the way that I do. So, like Shamus, I am here to say that you are not alone. Of course it’s not smart to air this in such a public forum, but I don’t care about being smart anymore. I care about being honest. Cause when it comes down to the come down, nobody cares how smart you are. All that matters is that you did your best. I hope my kids understand that one day.

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