I think I may have found a role model. A woman who worked outside the academy, taught as an adjunct, and will talk about her third book today at lunch. I hope it turns out she has more than one child – preferably boys.
Over the past two plus decades, I have searched high and low for someone on whom to model my life. So far, I’ve come up blank. My professional heroes all fall short as role models. They are male, childless, stopped at one child to protect their time and careers, ‘nannied-up’ beyond my maternal comfort zone, or divorced due to the stresses of juggling it all.
I went; I listened; I learned; but not about her life. I know about her scholarship. She’s worked outside the academy, but I only caught fleeting references to her other professional commitments. Neither the person who introduced her, nor the scholar, made any reference to family life. As ever, the academy pretends such things don’t exist. A lovely young woman I have advised on graduate applications sat in the corner with a burgeoning baby nearly busting from her belly. She has a life. I think I was the only person to ask about due dates. I asked a faculty father whose child attends my school about the transition to kindergarten. He answered, but I could tell that he would have preferred to hold a different conversation.
So here I am a forty-two year old woman who remains ga-ga for babies and sees no reason to relegate them to officially ‘social’ spaces. I engaged the academic content of the paper, but I would have enjoyed the process more if I had known the person behind the publication.