Sunday, November 27, 2011

Student, Mom, Wife

I've been searching in the blogosphere for some inspiration on carrying the stressful and varied hats of new mother, grad student, and wife, and quite honestly, I've come up with very little! I suppose this is so because not so many (female) graduate students begin having children just before or during their studies--but I hope I'm wrong! (Or do I, for their sakes?) What I'm seeking is a bit of solidarity, a bit of the realization that I'm not alone, a bit less of the wide-eyed "yikes!" and the pity and the concern I see in other female grad students when they find out I have a baby. It's difficult spreading oneself between things that one wants to be so good at. Motherhood on its own is oh-so difficult--and also oh-so rewarding--I feel too often that I'm toeing the edges of that wide line of neglect. At the same time, my son doesn't really respond when I try to play with him one-on-one (or is this simply the product of our early attempts at "independent play"?), so I really try to capitalize on one-on-one interaction during mealtimes, baths, and nappy and clothes changes. Writing a dissertation requires focus and stamina, and the longer stretch of time I'm able to devote to it, the better. Though with a toddler phasing from two naps a day to one, that time evaporates like water on hot pavement. Luckily, I have a partner who helps with the baby, taking him all day two or three times a month so that I can work in the New College library on campus. But I feel the biggest toll of this lifestyle is on my stores of patience--where I once had more than enough to spare, I've run quite dry for my husband, my baby, myself. As the holidays approach, however, I'm so looking forward to a reprieve, a time to laugh, love, and remember those closest to us--a time of celebration and courage and joy. And it's those times, I think, that ultimately make it all not "worth it," as that implies pain in the journey and relief in the destination, but rather that strengthen us and change us to enjoy the journey instead of merely enduring it.