If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


So New Year Themes have been going around—thanks to profgrrl-and I’m late to the party. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what my theme is-means and getting stuck. I thought it would be “transitioning” because I’m being forced into a major role transition this year. This is the year Boy goes off to college and my daily mothering activities will cease. [Note: We actually thought he was going off last year but he chose to defer. His life at home post-high school has already decreased many of my daily mothering activities but it will still be a huge transition not to have him around.]

But the truth is my life has been about transition for the past two years, if not longer, having made the largest physical move in my life and the largest move in my career by coming to this town and this job. I wanted the theme to be transition because I wanted to acknowledge to myself that this mothering transition is a process and to give myself the space and time to make it as well as to be bitchy or pouty when need be.

But it feels too narrow to be a New Year’s Theme. Instead I’ve chosen “Claiming.” I remember visiting my mother some 9 years ago when I was about to make another huge transition (out of my 17 year old marriage) and she told me I needed to “claim my power” and that this was something most women struggle with and that she was struggling with at 60. I think I want to spend this year claiming the new roles I do have and the power I have to affect change for myself, my loved ones, my students, my department, my research, etc.

Since I’ve been here I’ve felt like the “newbie” in my department, in my dojo, in my city. For me, being a “newbie” means I don’t have the same rights to speak up, take charge, be heard, etc as people who have history in a place. I’ve always resented people joining my spaces with the “let me tell you what I know” attitude. I’ve been taught you need to empty your cup when you embark on a new endeavor so you can take in the knowledge that is presented to you. This works well for me…to a point. I think I’ve reached that point.

I’ve felt like a “newbie” in my research since getting my doctorate (almost 6 years ago now) even though I’ve been heavily engaged in research for 18 years. Part of my transition to this job was to allow me to transition to a new research agenda and to explore new methodologies. I have done that and now I think I need to work on claiming this new agenda and viewing it as an important contribution to the field. I suppose I need to claim my role as the mother of an independent Boy but that I’ll be struggling with for some time to come.

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