Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Cast of Characters

I’ll start with myself: I am a 30-something Ph. D. candidate at a major-but-not-too-major university in the humanities. At my current academic stage, I’m starting to look for the balance between research and teaching. I’ve been aiming for an adjunct post in my current city. I am the new mom of the Bug.

The Bug: The darling, 22 day old tornado that has struck my life. She is beautiful and perfect in every way (easy to say now… she can’t talk back yet).

The Darling Husband (DH): My patient, uber-nerdy partner in this endeavour. He seeks, primarily, to find balance between MMORPGs and fatherhood.

The In-Laws: I somehow married in to a large, close family. I come from a smallish, close-mouthed, passive aggressive family. His family seems to be completely overbearing and overwhelming for me most of the time. Their philosophy is butt-in first, apologize later. (Not that they’ve done anything wrong, but “if it will make you feel better… I’m sorry.”) Due to an odd set of circumstances, DH and I live in his mother’s house for the time being (we’ll be moving in a few months).

The Out-Laws: My family. As previously mentioned, they are, for the most part, close-mouthed, and unlike the in-laws, would never give unsolicited advice. They’ll think it, and talk about it amongst themselves, but they only help when asked. (Except they might bring a ham or some cookies. I would kill for a ham or some cookies right now.) They mostly live in another state, but still figure fairly large in my life.

The Yarn Ladies: In this postpartum recovery period (and most other periods in my life, let’s be honest), my greatest refuge is in yarn and knitting. Through my string-related hobby, I have managed to make a number of friends who I knit with. Most of them are 50+ women, but there are also women my age and even a dude or two.

The Up-North gang: my friends, colleagues and compatriots in my Ph.D. program. These are awesome folks who have my back and recognize me as an intellectual, not just a poopy clean-up service.

Lady: My intrepid BFF, a single gal, who is up for almost any adventure with me. Like DH, she is one of my rocks, and she always supports me, no matter what craziness I suggest. Between the two of us, we are one competent human being.

Others will be added, and some of the categories will be fleshed out by individuals as we go along.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Beginnings

I have a perfect, amazing new daughter. She is beautiful, and I'm not just saying this. Everyone says this.

Really. She's freakin' adorable.

That said, I have been left with something of the impression that my culture expects me to cease being the interesting, grown-ass woman I was before she came into my life. Suddenly a surprising number of my conversations (and not just those with my spouse or the Bug's doctor) are about the poop of another being. Random strangers feel as though it is their absolute right to offer unsolicited advice as to how to parent. Our culture seems to grade parents based on the completeness with which they submerge their identities into that of their children. By this argument, I am no longer "Jess" or at least Jess is unimportant. I am merely the Bug's mama. Her success is the only sort of success I should be concerned about.

Yes, having a child shifted my priorities. Absolutely. But I am also still a grown woman with my own interests and goals that do not involve poop.

I have a unique parenting philosophy, one that I personally think is healthier than this "your child is the fulfilment of your destiny, so don't be concerned with your own goals, just support your child" thing. It is this: be the best parent you can be by being the most well-rounded person possible. I love my daughter, and I want her to know it. I plan on telling her often (indeed, I already do, although she won’t be acquiring language for a few months now), and showing her every chance I get. But because I love her, I want her to grow up to be an awesome adult. Part of what I think will allow her to be an awesome adult is seeing her parents be, themselves, awesome, well-rounded adults. Part of that means that we will have social lives independent of her. In my case, it means I will continue to pursue my career goals, even though I am at the very early stages of that career. (I’m not against, IN ANY WAY, stay at home mothers. It just isn’t the life for me.)

My first goal with this blog, then, is to attempt to chronicle how I maintain the balance between devotion to her and having my own life. At first, it will be hard; She sleeps in 3 hour increments, which means I sleep in 2 hour parcels. Drooling on the self doesn’t go over well in public, nor does falling asleep while socializing. Currently, I am her only food source, and so can only be away from her for an hour or so without things getting dicey. But I’m on a year long maternal leave from my job (hail academia!) and I assume that as this year progresses, I will find some semblance of balance. In my head, it is something between Cameron from Modern Family, Betty Draper, and my own mom, who managed to raise me while working, having friends, and being fun. My second goal is to find the humour in my peers, and share my observations with my tens of fans.