Look, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes my efforts pay off and sometimes they’re rewarded with a requirement for more effort. This is just the way it goes. I have to work at not taking an “isn’t this always the way?” approach when things go awry because, in truth, things don’t always go awry. But even when a given day or week isn’t totally tanking, it still is pretty crazy, and pretty taxing, and if there’s enough of both of these, it makes for a good story afterwards. And embedded in all this, or perhaps fueled by all of this, is the fact that, like all mothers, I am “full-time mom.” Oh I have a full time career all right, and a while back I was a full-time student/part-time teacher, but ever since Ph.D. school when I had my first child, I’ve been a full-time mother no matter what else I was doing.
Yesterday, as I’m sitting at my desk trying to run an academic department while working on a book proposal while planning lectures and grading papers while trying to finagle a get-away with my partner this week for his birthday, an email pops up on my computer screen about my son’s soccer practice being cancelled and messages from his dad are flashing on my phone to let me know he’ll be in town. I can’t attend to this just yet because I have an appointment with a colleague who wants to interview me about feminism for her doctoral thesis/film. As you might imagine, I’m spread a little thin here and doubt my ability to focus on any one of these things for long or with much good effect. My struggle to keep all these balls in the air, not to mention the exhaustion that ensues, is further complicated by the fact that I’ve got to leave work early today to drive nearly an hour to the next city where I’ll be interviewed on camera for this award I have the great honor of receiving from the YWCA. Oddly, I’m not terribly nervous about the taping, maybe because I’m more focused on how to fit into my day and week all that I need to and on what I’ll say about my work on motherhood and feminism; I don’t really have the time to fret. I leave work in plenty of time—not early enough to grab some lunch, alas, because I got pulled into several work tasks there at the last minute, but I’m still in good shape in terms of time, plus, I already plugged the address in to my GPS so it’s all good. I’m rehearsing what I’m going to say on the way there, a nice trip even though my GPS took me on the longest route possible. As a consequence, time is now getting tight. But I’m just a few blocks away so it should be all good except—oops—up ahead one block is a train. A long, long train that is going unbelievably slow. I look down the tracks and see that it is pulling car after car after car with no caboose in sight (when’s the last time I actually saw a caboose on a real train? I think maybe never). All this begins at 7 minutes till 2:00; my interview is at 2, their last one for the day, and the train is crawling. Just crawling. I don’t have the interviewer’s phone number with me and I can’t get my phone to pull up my email where I might find the number. I burst into tears. But just then I look up to see only two train cars left (no caboose) so it’s looking like things are about to turn except—oops—the stinking train comes to a dead stop. Just sits. Then starts reversing. O. M. G! I frantically enlist the aid of my executive assistant back at the office who gives me a number for the Y except—oops—I can’t get through. Luckily the train finally starts to move its original direction except—oops—here comes a second train on a parallel track. I am coming unraveled, and feeling like all my good work—planning carefully how I’d look on camera, leaving early, plugging the address into my navigator in advance, planning and rehearsing what I’m going to say, skipping the grabbing of lunch so I’m not pressed for time—is all for naught and I’m going to be a wreck when I get there, physically and psychologically, so what was the point. I waited a total of 25 minutes for that stinking train, during which time (when I wasn’t crying) I was thinking about dinner, and whether all would be OK with my kids while I was gone, and about the leaking toilet in my son’s bathroom and the leaking liner in my backyard pool (have I mentioned lately my perpetual struggle with water and homeownership?). I tried hard not to think about the lunch I could have been having as I sat there, impeded. Girl, interrupted.
In the end I got there, pulled myself together, enjoyed the interview, and took a quicker route home. I even had time to get my (totally fake) nails done—important because part of one had torn off and my finger was in great pain anytime I touched anything (sure hope that finger didn’t get caught on tape…these are the worries of a good feminist, as I’m sure you know) and I couldn’t have packed the car for my trip with that stupid finger. And as I sat in the nail salon watching some show about the quality of meals on food trucks, I was thinking about how glad I was that my son’s dad was in town b/c I’d have had to drag a reluctant, post-soccer practice boy to the salon with me (talk about fun) after a pretty hectic day. But mostly I was thinking about how his dad is heading back out of town before I’ll be back in town and I’ve got to finalize plans for a sleepover at a friend’s, and about how I’ve got to meet our “guy” at the house in the next half hour who will be rebuilding my dangerously splintering deck and about how on earth I’m going to afford such a thing. Luckily, I didn’t know at the time—I might well have lost it if I had—that my son and his dad would be stopping by later to pick up something, and I’d be serving my former husband a piece of the coconut cake that my daughter made for the birthday of my current husband (she insisted that her dad try it since it was her first from-scratch cake). Talk about the proverbial icing on the cake.
You know, as I write all this and see it in print it occurs to me that this was both a really crazy day and a day that doesn’t stand out in sharp contrast to yesterday or tomorrow for me. It is a wonder I can even think. But it is no wonder that I refuse to relinquish the title of full time mom.
BIO: Dr. Mama (Amber Kinser) is a writer, feminist mother, professor, and speaker who lives in Tennessee. Check her out on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @DrMamaWit, and see her webpage. Kinser writes for the MamaBlogger365 series each Thursday at the Museum Of Motherhood, Mamapalooza and Mamazina Magazine.