Sainthood’s Shortcomings


Last night I met one of the deans at my university for the first time.  I told him one of my advisees had encouraged me to introduce myself.  Upon hearing my name, he exclaimed, “You are Beth Pardoe?   I thought you would be nine feet tall and have a halo!”  Now,  I was thrilled that this man knew my name let alone that he held it in esteem.  My ego is sufficiently fragile that I will gladly take compliments wherever and whenever they come.  Nonetheless, I am not so blinded that I don’t recognize the problem here.  When someone refers to “my sainted mother,” it inevitably means she worked a lifetime without pay or public acknowledgement.

First, let me point out how laughable I find it that this man and over the last four and a half years a goodly number students and colleagues have referred to me as ‘a saint.’  You would have to look long and hard for someone less befitting the label.  Saints suffer in silence.  I am loud.  Very loud.  I grouse and gripe when things don’t go my way.  Saints have the placid expressions of those confident in their salvation.  Colleagues once concluded I would have to wear sunglasses and a niqāb in order to shield onlookers from the opinions written all over my face.

Second, if people in power misperceive me as a saint, I will never increase my monetary compensation.  Saints exist outside the market economy.  They work for their god and expect their payment in an afterlife.  I am NOT a saint and I would like a hefty paycheck in return for my mortal toil.  Just because I labor with love, do not assume I work as a labor of love.  I don’t charge my sons each time I pack a lunch or bake a cake.  Those are labors of love.   When I read a draft or orchestrate an interview, I throw heart and soul into the effort, but I want it valued in currency.  They will not allow me to deposit compliments at the bank.


About elizabethlewispardoe

Mater: de Facto et de Jure
This entry was posted in Academic Life, Biography, Motherhood and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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