Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Am an Insignificant Microbe . . .

. . . at least that is my new ranking according to The Truth Laid Bear. How did I fall so low you might wonder? Well, its pretty plain to me. If you don't generate content, you lose traffic. I am not surprised at this plummet in the ecosystem, but it has given me occasion to consider how concretely motherhood has affected my ability to write, think, and generate ideas.

Studies on how motherhood affects the lives of academic women have become routine, most often focusing on women in the sciences (thanks to Larry Summers). The recent issue of the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy focuses specifically on how to balance--or just survive--as a philosopher and a mother or a commuting spouse. (I recommend reading these pieces; they are fascinating and very well written).

I realize that blogging is not the same as academic research. But, for me the regularity with which I can blog is correlated with how much I am thinking, reading, and writing research oriented projects. So, becoming an insignificant microbe is a telling indication of how far I am from the kind of productivity that I have enjoyed for a decade. I am grateful that I am already tenured; I really cannot imagine how mothers without tenure survived, unless they had lots of lots of resources that enabled them to get round-the-clock child care.

I am definitely starting to feel a great deal of anxiety as January approaches and I am heading back to work. I have not yet figured out the day care situation and if I cannot do so, I will be really struggling to get my classes prepared and grade papers and whatnot. I am starting to fantasize about just bringing my baby girl with me everywhere rather than drop her off at some group care facility. I wonder if my students would be as distracted by her as they are by my colleagues' beagle? The thought is partly motivated by a wish to really challenge the system. Why not let women bring their children to work? After all, every time I eat lunch at the local tacqueria, the woman running the cash register has her little daughter with her, who loves to come and play with Maddie.

In any case, I am going to have to re-enter the academic workforce while still tending to a tiny infant that needs me. And, I am freaking out. It is not so much that I am so infected by mommy mush brain that I don't have things to say, but rather I don't have time to write them down. An hour or two to myself is such a luxury that I really have to prioritize what I want to get done in that hour and intellectual work hardly makes it to the top of the list.

Ok, I am going to play with my daughter. I hardly think this post is going to return me to the popularity I once enjoyed.