"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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Musings of a Theologian Mom

When I was a full-time doctoral student and a full-time mom, it was really, really tough. So tough that at times I would chastise myself for thinking that I could do both at the same time (and be satisfied with my performance). But whenever I reflected and thought... if I could go back... I remained in the same spot. I wouldn't choose not to start my doctorate. And, more importantly, I certainly would NOT choose not to have had Maia.

Now I have a slightly different musing. I've had a shift recently, so that I'm much more a full-time mom and only really a part-time (dissertation-writing) doctoral student. No assistantship means no "working" in addition to schoolwork and taking care of kids. Sometimes I wonder... what do those full-time moms that aren't writing dissertations do in the evenings when their kids go to bed? I like to idealize the possibilities. They probably endlessly read novels and other books for fun, spend time with their husbands, watch basketball on television, chat with their family on the phone, catch up on household chores, participate in social organizations and Bible studies, or maybe even go out with friends.

But then I think... would I really be happy if I wasn't doing something academic?

And right now, the answer is no. This is the end to every muse of this sort. I conclude the idealizing and dreaming with being glad that I'm (still) pursuing a doctorate.


Emily Hunter McGowin said...

This post makes me smile. When I muse--which is quite often, at this point--I come to the same conclusions. Would I forgo my children? No. Would I forgo academics. No. So, here I am, working it all out in a very messy fashion. I am encouraged by the fact that the Kingdom of God is one big beautiful mess, too.

Clara said...

A lot of people told me that, once my first child was born, I'd find I really didn't have much interest anymore in my academic work. "Once you hold that baby in your arms, other things will just melt into the background," one woman told me. "You'll just find you don't really care anymore."

Well, that really wasn't true. Having a baby is very sweet, and lots of fun, but once I got past those first few weeks of settling in, I found myself really wanting to have an intellectual component to my life once again. Nowadays my work periods are shorter than they once were, but I find them deeply satisfying. Plus, I have time to think through problems in my intellectual work while nursing the baby or rocking him to sleep or whatever. I really think I enjoy the baby more when I don't feel I have to annihilate my real personality and abandon everything else that I care about in order to be a good mom to him.

Some flexibility is required when it comes to determining what role, precisely, my academic pursuits will play in our lives, but they definitely need to be in the picture somewhere. I've known women who really do cease to care about their studies right after their kids are born, and I think often that's a sign of a very common phenomenon, namely, not having been that interested (deep down, as it were) in the first place. Plenty of graduate students are basically bored with what they do, and in that case, it's perfectly reasonable to do something else. Nothing wrong with that! But not all of us feel like that.