It would not be an exaggeration to say that i have never have had a single "good hair day" in my life. I didn't even have hair until i was three and it started to fall out when i was maybe 16.
My dad and brother have written the most ridiculously adorable comments to the last post. In case you don't peruse the comments section, I've pulled them out here for your enjoyment. My dad wrote:
So, I've given the "Adventure Mom" some thought. It would fit perfectly as an action, sitcom.The cuteness of this comment is challenged only by this comment from Aaron:
Super Power - teacher, author, mother, able to use superior intellect to expose the chauvinist and sexist (and makes some tasty cookies)
Super Power - builder, musician, father, able to create by using his superior artistic skills (continually puts himself in dangerous situations without hurting himself - hardly)
Super Baby (aka Maybelline, sugar bean, weanie beanie...)
Super Power - stealing peoples hearts with just a glance
Stinky Deez and Dinosaur Head Benya
Super Power - hmmm... protectors of the super home... (barking, drooling, being very veecious)
Exterior house on Rutledge. Sunny day, late afternoon
Entering from right on street - Adventure Mom (riding bike, with backpack, Super Baby in the her Bjorn, cell phone in one hand and towing a small wagon with all the awards she had won that day)
She rides to the front of the house. Ever watchful, the Stinky Deez and the Dinosaur Head Benya are asleep on the front porch.
As she enters the gate, there is a crash and small explosion from the rear of the house.
Danger Dad comes around the side of the house (wearing coveralls and a tshirt that is slightly smoldering in spots)
Adventure Mom -"Biffle... (sigh) ... are you OK"
Danger Dad -"Yea sweety (as he pats out a smoldering spot on arm of his tshirt), I'm fine.
The dogs awake, start barking and jumping (except for Deez who is just trying to get to her feet).
Super Baby smiles, looks directly in the camera and says "Just another typical day..."
To be continued...?
next time you should dress up Maybelle in a fancy business outfit and talk to her like she's your really tiny boss. Take messages for her, cover her ears when you tell people that she's cranky, and you should probably invest in a miniature laptop that you can strap to her while she is strapped to you.Oh, if only I had a miniature laptop!
Maybelle and I took our first plane trip together this weekend. I had a talk to give, and of course Maybelle came along. I was pretty nervous about the flights--I love flying and pride myself on being a confident, unanxious flier, someone who never checks a bag and goes through novel after novel in the gate area and on the plane. I knew that all that would change with the addition of Maybelle.
It turns out that Maybelle is a great air traveler. I strapped her in the Bjorn and walked around the Charleston and Atlanta airports, and she was perfectly content. We played on a blanket on the floor in Atlanta when we missed our connecting flight. She was happy talking with me and resting on my shoulder during the flight to Atlanta, and even let a strange man hold her while I stuffed her diaper gear back into my backpack. She ate during takeoffs and landings and slept much of the rest of the time on all the flights.
At one point in the Atlanta airport, Maybelle was strapped to my front, facing out in her Bjorn, and I had my backpack on my back, and I bought myself a corn dog (I do love a corn dog). I strode along the moving sidewalk between terminals, eating my corn dog, talking to Maybelle, who was looking around, taking it all in. It occurred to me, “This is what I needed to see when I learned that my child had Down syndrome. This is the person I thought I might not be able to be with a special needs baby.” I really felt like an Adventure Mom, able to be a good parent while having my own life, heading out into the world with Maybelle, both of us enjoying ourselves.
I've gotten a number of thoughtful responses to my last two posts, in the comments section as well as in individual emails. I really appreciate all the feedback, and I'm taking it all seriously as I grapple with the whole work/family balance.
In a conversation the other day, I realized something that I thought I'd throw out here for those of you who are worried about me: even though I'm often some combination of anxious, sad, and torn these days, I wouldn't trade this semester for last semester. This is better. I wasn't miserable in the fall, but my life then felt much less comfortable than my life now. Somehow, for me, waking up in the morning and wondering how I'm going to make it all work feels better than waking up in the morning and wondering how I'm going to fill a whole day with nothing going on and only me and Maybelle hanging out. This fact may speak volumes about my own dysfunctionality, but there it is.
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.
Just before I started back to work, Maybelle decided she didn't drink from a bottle anymore. We're working on changing her mind, but until that happens, I'm biking back from school every three hours to feed her. This is pretty inconvenient, as you might imagine, and it makes scheduling a day at work really challenging. But that's not what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about here is the fact that I'm not telling people that this is what's going on.
I'm not telling my colleagues at the College, or even colleagues elsewhere. Today, for instance, I was emailing some Women's Studies colleagues at other schools, and I ended the message with, "Well, I'm off to meet with a candidate for the History Department." What I deliberately didn't say was that, before I met the History Department candidate, I was going to go feed Maybelle.
I'm not entirely sure why I'm being secretive about this. Of course, many of the people I interact with on a daily basis have no need to know anything about Maybelle's eating habits or anything else about her, so sharing would just be too much information. But that's not all that's going on. I think part of why I'm not talking much about this part of my life, and the challenges it poses, is that I practice projecting the image of success. I think one of the reasons I've been so successful in my career is because I present a successful face. "Everything is going great! Enrollments are booming! The WGS Program is vibrant!"
And not only does biking away from campus to feed my baby not seem to fit with this narrative of success, it doesn't seem professional. It seems like I'm less professional. Even if I get the same amount of work done as I did before I had Maybelle, I seem less profesionnally functional. At some level I fear that my experience could be used to buttress some horrible argument about why women shouldn't be hired because they'll just go and have kids and then they're no good to you in the workplace anymore.
The irony here is that I'm an advocate for changing the workplace so that the professional realm actually provides more room and support for people with families and lives. I want us to change what it means to be professional so that people don't have to feel quite so torn all the time between jobs and families. Along these lines, think what it might mean for my experience of my work life and my family life if my employer had childcare on site, so that I could stroll down the street to feed Maybelle in between classes rather than tearing uptown on my bike as fast as I possibly can.
The other irony is that I recognize that I have the opportunity here to broaden my students' perceptions of what it means to be a feminist and to provide them with a model for how a person might be passionate about their work and their kid.
But I still want to keep this part of my life under wraps.
As you all know, I've been thinking a lot about the work/family balance these days. Some days I feel like things are going well, and other days I proclaim that my goal is for my work to be "minimally adequate" (which is the SC constitution's standard for public education). As one friend encouragingly put it today, "It's not just good. It's good enough." Hell, yeah. I'm not the only person thinking about these things, and another friend has a great interview about motherhood and academia that came out recently. Worth a read.
The second cool thing is a follow up on my cameo appearance in The East Village Inky. Not only did I appear, mentioned by name, but there's another more subtle way in which my presence was felt in the zine. Note the following picture of Inky:
Recognize that shirt? That is none other than the Full Frontal Feminism shirt that I have shamelessly sold via Skirt! magazine, that I used in a fruitless attempt to woo Stephen Colbert, that I myself am wearing in my own publicity photo. I sent that shirt to Ayun Halliday. I feel even more famous now.
Chicken of the Sea
T for Tiny, T for Tee-Tiny
And an addition to her song:
My name is Maybelline.
I do not have baleen
Cause I am not a whale.
My name is Sweet Maybelle.