"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.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Singing in the Shower

Ever since I gave the Sandra Boynton Blue Moo album to Maia, we've been listening to it every single day. Of course, Maia skips half the songs on the album. We've already both chosen favorites. She likes "Blue Moo" and "Speed Turtle". I like "Personal Penguin," "With You," and "Your Nose." And we both love B.B. King's "One Shoe Blues." We also both like the song "Singing in the Shower."

This last song, the first on the album, is an upbeat tune wherein a guy sings his woes of only being able to sing in the shower. "When I wake up in the morning, well my voice is all wrong, you can hardly even hear me sing my song. But when I step into the shower it's a whole new sound, as soon as the water's coming down."

The song is pretty hilarious, but one line always stands out to me. He sings "I put so much emotion to every single refrain... it's a shame to see this talent going right down the drain..."

I identify with it, not because I sing in the shower (or have any great singing talent, which I obviously don't), but because I have my moments where I think I see my talent going right down the drain. I was washing dishes yesterday and singing along because, yes, I was dishes in the middle of the morning, not to mention the afternoon, and many other times as well. And, along with my talent, I was trying to get some mushy Cheerios right down the drain.

In general I've been feeling very happy, and I've actually been enjoying housework, crazy as that sounds. It turns out hosuework is not all that stressful when I'm not studying for a qualifying exam or writing a prospectus. I made myself a schedule with one chore per day (e.g. vaccuuming, laundry, cleaning glass, kitchen floor), and, since I'm home all day, it's never hard to accomplish just that one task. And I am always happy that I got it done. It's fulfilling in the way that linear tasks often are: they begin and end, and the difference is clear (for at least a couple of hours).

But it doesn't stop me from occaionally thinking to myself, is vaccuuming the carpet really the best use of my intelligence? Did I spend all that time and effort getting an advanced degree so that I could be mopping the floor on a Monday morning? Let's be honest, my high GRE scores and stellar GPA just don't matter in the world of housework and full-time mom stuff. And so, washing the dishes, and singing along to my kids' music, I think, is all of my talent going right down the drain?

This leads to other reflections as well-- thinking about the many women before me who had genius IQs and would have been excellent students save that they dedicated their lives to breastfeeding, changing diapers, wiping noses, cooking dinners, cleaning houses, and so on.

Back to the song: "Oh, someday I might be singing in Carnegie Hall, and you know that I'll be singing in my old shower stall. Wearing waterproof tuxedos (maybe purple satin speedos) or I'm not singing there at all."

By the end of the song, the singer seems to appreciate that he does really have talent, but it just takes the right setting to bring it out. If he's going to make it big, he's going to do it just as he's done it all along - singing in the shower. He's not just a singer, he's a shower singer.

That's kind of how I feel too. If I'm going to make it as a theologian, it's going to be as a theologian mom. My "singing" will always be "singing in the shower," as in, I'm not going to compartmentalize the part of my life that's motherhood. I take it along with me, just as he would take along his shower stall if he had to sing at Carnegie Hall.

This is great silliness of course, but it is the silliness of a highly intelligent and educated Theologian Mom.


LKF said...

I'm a friend of your brother JM which is how I found your blog. I enjoy reading it every so often since I too am embarking on a journey of balancing motherhood with work in theology. Just this morning I came across an article which reminded me of your writing, and I wondered if you have ever read it - a fascinating study of this "new generation" of theologians who are balancing vocations to parenthood and academia. Not sure if this link will work, but I think you would enjoy reading this (or you could find it on ATLA - "The dual vocation of parenthood and professional theology: how are we doing? Where are we headed" by Florence Caffrey Bourg, Horizons 32 no 1 Sp 2005, p. 26-52) : http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csbsju.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001512220&site=ehost-live

Theologian Mom said...

Hey, thanks for the comment. I'll definitely check out Bourg's piece when I get the chance. And blessings to you in your work and motherhood.