I’m feeling overwhelmed. The semester is beginning and i like to be on top of things and i’m not. i talked with another mother today and it seems this is just how it is. her son is 10 and she just realised it might not change until he gets to university. whew.
i love my baby, but i could do with a month to do nothing but write, all day, everyday, just to catch up to where i want to be.
the other side of being overwhelmed is being excited. in fact, its because i’m excited that i watch the hours and days ticking by, getting stressed while i get so little done.
i’m working on an issue of our in-house feminist journal. the issue is on indo-caribbean feminisms and its going to be super rad. i’ve got my own paper on theorising indian girlhood to submit, plus the introduction to write, plus all the papers to give a once over with an editor’s eye. i just have to….ummm….get it done. the issue was supposed to be up on line in september, but i’ve pushed it back to january. sounds manageable now, right?
i’ve also got a paper i want to submit to the Political and legal Anthropology Review, a journal that i’d love to get my work into for the first time. i’m extra excited about my paper, which is theorising from my phd thesis. yet, i’m also feeling intense trepidation. i just haven’t had the time to dedicate to it, time enough to send it off confidently knowing that it shows my capacity. is everything i do over the next few years going to feel like complete mediocrity?
then there’s that paper to present in november, on digital media, which i know nothing about, but thought i’d do fine with at the time. what was i thinking?
as i assess what’s in front of me, my brain moves from thinking ‘manageable’ to just thinking ‘aaacckkk’. that’s about as articulate or lucid as i can be. seriously. there it is again. aaaaackkkk.
that’s only the top of the iceberg or the avalanche depending on whether i’m focusing on the present or attempting to predict what’s ahead. i’ve also got a book chapter on women and islam due in january and new research i want to add to it, when i don’t know. and i’m caught between working on my book prospectus which is only three years overdue and finding the right words for a abstract, for a super fancy big word kind of brain-ticking workshop that i’d love to go to, due on the 12th. and here is me, alas, with only two arms.
that’s only 4 of the 24 things at the top of the list, which includes class beginning next week, a new course to write and even, somewhere in there, that little known activity called reading. that thing that academics do. i hardly have time or energy to glance at that list any more. and i’m not reassured by the fact that its not only me.
people tell me how academia is so flexible, but sometimes i dream of a 9-5 because academics have to write and writing takes time, quiet, thoughts and words – lots and lots. and its a real dilemma because more writing means less time with Zi, who i already spend only three full days with a week. why make a baby if she’s not going to see me?
professional women, often in their thirties, are entering the top tiers of their careers, just when the ticking biological clock sounds loud in their ear. and therein is the dilemma. you can’t do both, but you might have to. and when one has to suffer, which will it be? they call it publish or perish for a reason, but also wrapped up in your work is identity, confidence, challenge and satisfying investment of energy. those too are wrapped up in your baby, the one who doesn’t sleep day or night and who, of course, is currently teething and cranky.
today, its the avalanche i’m feeling.
so, this too is motherhood. the loss of career, the sacrifice of time and self, the reckoning with life over which you no longer have full control, the knowing that if you could just lock yourself off to work you’d be a superstar, except you can’t and so you won’t. i’ve always heard about competing career-family pulls for women, and about how you are not going to do either really well if you are trying to do both. i just never really knew that, when you are in that place, all it sounds like is