Monday, August 20, 2007

Introduction to Maya's world

This is my first blog. This is my first posting on my first blog.

I think motherhood has made me a much better person than I ever was before. Here's a miniscule example: I'm incredibly grumpy in the morning. But I promised myself I'd greet my daughter with a smile even if she kept me awake crying from 10 pm till 3 am, like she did each night until she was 6 weeks old. Each morning before I open my eyes I urge my promise to push away the normal mental scowl. Now that she's seven months old, my daughter always wakes up happy. She giggles when I say the first lines of the Shema. Then we open the shades and let in the light--it's a big production for us. I guess I'll have to wait till she leaves home before I can resume my normal morning diva routine.

I'm not sure how it's going to work professionally. I just finished my second year as an assistant professor. Because I’m on junior faculty research leave this semester, I just lost my office at the university till I come back—I’ll have to write about our trip to the Library of Congress to plead for a research space.

Academics never know when we're done working because we set our own hours, except when we're teaching, and so there's always another article or chapter or translation we could be writing. At least we should be reading something. But having a baby makes me know when I'm done for the day. I share a wonderful nanny 4 days a week so that I can write and research. But on Wednesday, when there is no nanny, I simply can't work. I make Wednesday a secular shabbat. Sometimes we have lunch with friends, or coffee. I connect with other Jewish mothers. Just now the daughter is starting to get wriggly and grabby in public, so public lunch may need to be curtailed. Babies are rare enough in academia so that colleagues don't mind the occasional screech or cry when I need to run to the University with her for books or photocopying. I have terrific colleagues—they even let me take her to department meetings. I have terrific students.

I'm also thankful that my artist friends and colleagues let me take the baby to poetry readings and performances, even if I have to stand in the back and pace with the daughter in arms. Once, during Carly Sachs’ performance of Steam at the JCC (buy the book, it's fantastic!) babygirl was humming herself to sleep. Carly figured, hey, it was avant-garde. Only a couple of audience members seemed annoyed.

I fear that I'm not doing enough to succeed in my job. I can't always get inspired on demand--that is, during the hours I have child care. I'm trying to learn to trust that things will turn out as they were meant to. It’s a fabulous job, but, when it comes down to it, my daughter is the only daughter I have.

Before she was born, I didn't think I wanted children, didn't think I had the temperament. I am the oldest of seven; my mother was nineteen when I was born, and I’m not much like her. I was afraid motherhood would be tedious and would shrink my world. There is some tedium to it, and you'll probably read more about it in the postings to come. But for some weird reason, I'm totally fascinated and enchanted with every move my daughter makes much of the time. It's probably hormonal. I don't care what it is, I'm just happy to have it happen to me.

And shrinking my world? Well, from January to June I’m planning to take baby and move to Tel Aviv for 6 months while I am a visiting professor there. Am I crazy? Probably. In the meantime, my daughter is much more social, much happier, and much cuter than I am, so that because of her, my social circle has expanded tremendously. Sometimes I have to ask random strangers to please look at my daughter because she's nearly breaking her neck to get them to notice her so she can smile at them. Is she really my daughter? Of course, it means that I have to make an effort. I try to dine with people on shabbat evening, no matter how tired I am--sometimes that means cooking for nine or so. I try to go to shul, to accept invitations. Maybe if I weren't a single parent it would be different. But this is what is working for me right now.

1 comment:

lsw said...

Dearest Maya,

Welcome to the world of blogging! I am looking forward to hearing all about your exciting adventures balancing a career and an adorable little girl. Especially when you journey to Israel for the semester. Hatzlacha Raba!

LSW