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Academic Mamas

A mother reads to her daughter on a tablet.

My life is a delicate balancing act—a blur of vivid moments. I am a mother and an academic.

Today I drop my daughter and son off at school. One hour later my daughter is home with a stomach ache. During my Zoom call she sneaks into the room and shows me the dragon she has drawn. I worry that my childless boss will not understand being interrupted for a dragon.

I have a goal to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. I envision myself quietly slipping out of bed and doing yoga by candlelight. In my vision I sit with my journal and write. This is the way I will begin my day. I will hold a cup of peppermint tea and swallow the silence. This, I think, is the new more-expansive me.  

Two days into the semester and I sleep through my alarm. 

Last night my daughter roamed the house and crawled into bed between my husband and me. After two hours of being kicked, I wandered into her room and pushed aside her giant stuffed moose so I could fall asleep in peace. In the morning I tiptoed around my room trying to find something professional to wear without waking her.

During Spring Break of 2020 when we were all isolated and not going anywhere, I reached out to a friend, another mother who is also an academic. We talked, and laughed, and walked, and she said,  “there should be a support group for women like us.”  When I got home her words echoed in my soul.

Today I am Zooming in my son’s bedroom. His ceiling is adorned with Star Wars models. There is a rocket bookcase in the corner. I had to sift a path through his Legos to get to his desk. It is all very unprofessional. I am hoping the camera doesn’t pick up the piles of laundry. 

Tonight I am wandering the house at 3:00 a.m. too stressed to sleep. My cat meows.

I love my job. I love my children. I love my husband. I love my students. 

Three days into the semester it all feels like too much. 

I am a mother. I am an academic. I am a teacher. I am a wife. 

My life is a delicate balancing act—a blur of moments. A blur of needs. 

How? I think to myself. How am I this disorganized? What happened to my ironclad focus? Between the despair at the once efficient human I was before motherhood and the joy at having my child smear my blouse with peanut butter, I find that I sometimes hate and simultaneously love my life.

I sometimes wish I were my cat.

I’ve spent my entire life in school or teaching school. When I feel stressed I research. I am an academic. There are experts that do scientific studies on child rearing.  When I am struggling the pile of parenting books on my bathroom floor grows. At times it begins to teeter. 

I once took a parenting class. When I arrived I realized I was the only parent present not court ordered to attend. In the sharing circle we began with why we were there. “My son threw his chair at his teacher” said the first mother. And so it went, one dramatic act after another. When the counselor got to me the room grew damp with silence. 

There must be a different way, a better way of connecting with other mothers, of sharing with women who understand. Yes!!!  A friend at work agrees. I would love to meet with a group of mothers. 

Yes!!! Another friend echos. 

We are so alone. So busy attempting to appear perfect. 

In the parking lot of our kids’ school I talk to the friend I walked with a year ago. She is also a mother and has a PhD in child psychology. An expert in this field and a mother of four. Four! I am always astounded. She is a super mom. She drives a white minivan and painted her kitchen a delicious yellow. Yes, she says: let’s start a group. A peer-mentoring group–a space where mothers can connect, and nourish, and support. A space where we are free to be imperfect and real. “Let’s call it Academic Mamas,” she says. 

“Yes!” I say. “Academic Mamas.” 

If you are interested in Academic Mamas or in joining our first book circle this spring please fill out this google form Academic Mamas Book Circle Sign-up.