"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.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Academic Complementarity

These days, "complementarity" is a word everyone loves to hate (or loves to love, in some cases). I won't enter into the debate here, but I will say that my husband and I seem to have some academic complementarity. My husband is awesome at doing footnotes. He loves footnotes- everything about them. He loves writing tangential comments, putting in passages in their original languages, and, of course citing texts. He has Turabian completely memorized, and can engage in quick comparison of other citation styles as well.

Last week, I was at the park with the toddler while the husband was checking my footnotes for my paper due that week. I thought I had been pretty footnote-conscious on this paper, so I assumed it would be an easy job for him. When I got the chance to check my cellphone (stored in the jogging stroller), I had more than a few missed calls from him. The message he left was pretty calm. He had a "few questions" about some of my footnotes. When I called him, however, he was a little frazzled. "Fairweather, 245. Do you think people will read your mind? You didn't even give a first name, much less a title! How am I supposed to find the other bibliographical information without even knowing the text?" I answered him, "Scholastic Miscellany: Anselm to Ockham," and threw in some appreciative and thankful comments for good measure.

Next he said, "What about your ibid. situation? You have an ibid. for Cavanaugh when the text is from Kelly Johnson's book! It looks like you reorganized the text without even looking at the footnotes!" "Yes," I told him, "that's exactly what I did, and I am so sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you so much for looking through my footnotes and catching that mistake." Then he said, "Well, when I read through the text, I thought, this is a good paper, but when I got to the footnotes, I couldn't help but start to get upset."

To which I responded, "That's exactly how I felt when I was editing your dissertation. All those long nights trying to re-place your misplaced modifiers...trying to make sense out of your page-long sentences..." etc., "It's almost as though I lose my footnotes concentrating on my text, and you lose your text concentrating on your footnotes."

Ahem. Academic complementarity? I think we make a good team. We not only help each other, but we inspire each other to work on our academic weaknesses.


RevolutionMe said...

count yourself lucky. the rest of us don't have a citation-wizard husband ;-)

Theologian Mom said...

Humph! What about him being lucky to have a superb editor-wife?!

Clara said...

Yes, I wish my husband were so footnote-happy... also yours sounds more patient than mine. :)

On the other hand, I do know what you mean and have often counted myself lucky to have such a readily available philosopher with whom to discuss an idea or an argument. When I give a paper, I very often find that he identifies the weaknesses of the argument more shrewdly than anyone at the event, so I'm nicely prepared. Also, we do have a certain kind of complimentarity in that we know about different philosophers. I know the medievals better for the most part, but he knows a lot of the Continental philosophers better than I do, so we can consult one another for more perspective.

Another example of complimentary talents... as a dedicated computer geek he offers me great tech support. But I'm a little more savvy about certain social niceties, like how to word the email to your chair asking for a schedule change. He always runs all such sensitive communications through me before hitting "send." :)

Although I know it isn't essential to having a successful marriage (I know lots of academics married to non-academics who seem to pretty much leave work at work, and I know that such families can be quite happy), I often think how lucky we are to be able to share such an important part of our lives together. It's an endless source of interesting conversation, and it gives me more confidence as a scholar to know that I've got someone as smart as him in my corner.