Tuesday, 20 August 2013


I'm having the realisation that my attitude is going to have to change.
I've been spending any spare moment i get - nap times, evenings, saturday mornings when daddy takes Orson out and, while I'm at my mum's, precious hours here and there while grandma takes over, god bless her - on work stuff. Refereeing papers, reading colleague's papers, revising manuscripts, replying to emails, liasing with book reviewers and all the other many tasks that i somehow persuade myself are essential. I've been telling myself that its the most valuable use of my time because it makes me feel like me again, insures me against maternity leave career-slide (maybe) and, well, i really enjoy it!

The trouble is, its stressing me out. I'm carrying out a mental sprint every time i realise Orson is asleep or otherwise off my hands, desperately cramming activity into every conceivable slot, anxiously clockwatching to see how many minutes i'm likely to have left. I'm leaving myself no time at all for any other activities i might do in these times - exercising, having pamper time, organising for when he wakes up, *napping*, for god's sake.

And its too much. Its stressing me out, leaving me exhausted and run down. Its eroding the quality of the time i spend with orson when he's awake. Its turning me into a bit of a nutter, feeling a bit like a hunted criminal, never any time for looking after myself or chilling out. I need to get more realistic about what motherhood means for my work. I need to learn to let go a bit more, to slow down and start enjoying my son instead of treating him like an inconvenience that needs to be contained so that i can get back to what i was doing. For someone who has spent many years obsessing and devoted to her life of the mind, this is daunting stuff. I need to switch off and learn to really say no to things. This is going to have to be a work in progress. But realising you have a problem is the first step towards solving it : )


Anonymous said...

Just for now, cut back on reviewing and commenting, but keep your own creative work going as your main work priority. You will help others a lot in your career, and you can keep helping direct collaborators, but for now the other person you help most is in your arms, keeping you awake! Also, nearly all travel for work, meetings etc., is unnecessary for the first three years or so. I managed this way through three kids, no maternity leave (USA in the 1980s and early 1990s). You may find different solutions, but saying no to others and yes to your own creative work is a great start. Good luck!

Ellen Clarke said...

Thanks Joan! Yes I had the impression from reading http://www.mamaphd.com/ that mothers have it a lot tougher in the states, in terms of maternity leave etc. I'm really extraordinarily lucky to be able to take time off and devote myself to Orson without worrying about work. And I realise that apart from anything else I owe it to other women to actually take that leave!