2.11.2009

Involvement

This year's production of the Vagina Monologues is being performed on Friday, and cool things have been happening on campus all week in preparation--students have been selling t-shirts and vagina cookies, they've had film screenings and a meet and greet with the cast, and tonight there's an art and music party downtown. I'm feeling a little sad tonight as I think about how uninvolved I've been with the whole production this year. I can't make it to the art and music party because Biffle's at a gig and Maybelle is asleep, and I'm going to be lucky to make it on time to the show on Friday because of Maybelle's sleep schedule.

My first two years at this job I worked collaboratively with the two student producers of the play. They did most of the work, but I did a lot of brainstorming with them, I made an appearance at virtually every event, I helped set up and break down, and I was there for all the productions of the play, from start to finish, and afterward. Last year I was less involved, in part because exhaustion occasioned by my (at that point still secret) pregnancy, but I was still a hell of a lot more involved than I am this year.

This year I've done almost nothing. Biffle designed the poster, and I've offered a few pieces of advice here and there when asked, but that's it. The students have done an amazing job, and I realize that by my backing off, I'm giving them the opportunity to be really in charge--this is their production, through and through. I'm allowing them to develop their leadership skills, which is one of my big goals for my work with the students. I'm trusting them, and they're living up to that trust. One of my colleagues said that, for her, this was one of the unexpected benefits of having a baby: it forced her to give her students some room, and it turned out to be room that they needed. So I see that this is not necessarily a horrible thing that I haven't been involved this year.

What I'm sad about is that getting to work closely with students on projects like this is one of the things I love about my job. It's great fun to be part of their creative processes, to offer support but to let them do the real work, to be a cheerleader from the sidelines. I worry that I've let them down, but I also feel like my own job experience is somewhat impoverished.

What I keep reminding myself, though, is what everyone--my parents, my friends, even Maybelle's physical therapist--has reiterated to me: this is temporary. Infancy is incredibly temporary. By the time next year's Vagina Monologues rolls around, I'll have a bit more freedom and will be able to take part in a more direct way, if I want.

8 comments:

grace said...

Alison, you have been so involved in the development of the program, organizing public and on campus events, raising awareness and provoking thought in your students, the community and in me. With all of this in mind, just your presence, I am sure has helped in the production in the Vagina Monologues. This is a chance for you to view the process from the outside to make next year's production even more successful.

Rebekah said...

Um, what is a vagina cookie?

The Mom said...

Rebekah - LOL! That's pretty much what I thought the first time I heard of them - when Alison had her students over to their house in Nashville for a vagina cookie decorating party!

Alison said...

Grace--thank you for your comment. That's a very helpful perspective.

And Rebekah, vagina cookies are cookies sculpted to be in the shape of vulvas. They are awesome.

hazel Ketchum said...

I don't want to be a butinsky, but Alison if you want to go to something strap that baby on and go! I don't think Maybelle will give a hoot if she is sleeping in her crib or if she is sleeping in a sling at the Vagina show. Unless she is the crazy crying screaming baby (like one of mine was) - even more reason to show her a good time! Sometimes I had to cut and run if they got fussy, but we did a lot of fun things together and it is good for children to see the world and see what we do in it - from playing music to making vagina cookies.

Amanda Richey said...

Alison--I hear you. So. Very. Temporary. I am constantly both comforted and anxious about this-- The constant unrelenting physical-ness of taking care of two (Noor is 2 and Lena is 7 months) and oh how I miss reading and being an active academic--that is, giving more than just the little bit I can muster on 4 hours worth of sleep in a spit-up stained sweater. Then again, how I rue this passing wonderment! Will I remember how joyful this all can be? How sweet and tiny they are? How all they want is a boob and Pop Goes the Weasel?! I understand sister...
Amanda

The Mom said...

I second Hazel's suggestion - you know how many times we took our babies with us wherever we went. Since Maybelle isn't an "Aaron", I bet she would just sleep. I'd sit near the back so I could go stand up in the entry-way if need be, but I bet you could go. Is it tonight, or is it already too late?

The Mom said...

Oh, and I think I forgot to tell you that I saw Amanda Richey with her 2 year old coming out of Spankies about a week ago. It was so good to see her and hear a little bit about her and her kids. Too bad we're always in such a rush when you're here, making it hard to renew those connections!

Love you,
Mom