"You will be a better mom because you are a theologian, and a better theologian because you are a mom."

Is it true? In this blog, I explore the interplay and intersection of motherhood and theologianhood.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Not Just Another Theologian Mom

When motherhood is on the horizon, it is natural for a theoloian mom to feel a bit of trepidation at announcing the pregnancy. How will people within the academy (which is not always very child-friendly) react?

I clearly recall a Graduate Assistant teaching meeting facilitated by Dr. Mize, the chair of our department. I was due about a week before the end of the semester, and Dr. Mize asked me if I had arranged for someone to cover my classes when necessary. I admit I was slightly insulted until I realized I had misread the tone of the question: Dr. Mize - the overworked chair - was offering to teach my class for me.

In retrospect, it probably shouldn't have been a surprise. Dr. Mize is a theologian mom, after all. The story of Mize taking her oral exam on Rahner while in the midst of Braxton-Hicks contractions is a legend in the department. (Frankly, I think she encourages that legend so that we doctoral students don't look for excuses to wimp out of our exams.)

When it was time for orientation in the fall, both Jeff and I were required to attend. So we brought the baby with us, but she seemed a little bored with the orientation program. When she cried in the midst of one of Mize's presentations, we apologized, only to be told quickly and emphatically, "I don't mind. I really don't mind." My first year of theologian motherhood was a little chaotic - classes, an assistantship, a husband who was teaching two classes and revising his dissertation, an exam, and a nursing baby for whom we were the "primary care providers." It happened more than once that I ended up sitting in one of Mize's classes with Maia on my lap (or in her clip-on highchair). Sometimes I found this a little distracting. Dr. Mize, a more experienced theologian mom, never did. "I lived through two boys tearing through the house, so nothing bothers me," she'd say, as Maia pelted my classmates with Cheerios.

In the winter semester, Maia and I were assigned to be Dr. Mize's graduate assistants. In our weekly meetings, Dr. Mize regularly allowed (or even encouraged) Maia to rampage her office. It took only a few weeks before Maia knew where all the goods were - the Powerpuff girl keychain, the wooden lizard, the plants, the cups, the water, the cds, the computer mouse, and, of course, the trashcan. The chair's office quickly became one of Maia's favorite places to hang out. Dr. Mize seemed to like seeing Maia weekly too. Maybe because it gave her an explanation for the ocassionally messy state of her office.

Maia has remained a big fan of Dr. Mize, and still seeks out her office when she can. Most recently, Maia has taken to retelling the story of Dr. Mize's unfortunate winter accident. Everyone has gotten to hear this story - both people in the department and various friends as well as grandparents, Uncle Biff, Tia Ann, and anyone else Maia can get on the phone. The story goes like this, "Doctor Mize. Ka-boom. Ice. Slip. Band-aid. Poor Doctor Mize." When we let her, Maia also likes to wear a brace on her arm just like Dr. Mize's.

And, of course, Maia always remembers to include bedtime prayers for Dr. Mize's arm.

In this video, Theologian Mom and Maia have a conversation about Dr. Mize's "band-aid."


RevolutionMe said...

I can't wait to spend my weekend of her. Do you think she enjoys other people's pain too much?

NYTAnonimo said...

Rob and I enjoyed watching the video again-glad you have it posted Maria. Maia has such great empathy for others-she is truly a special little girl.

Mary Lou