Two really interesting…

Two really interesting blog entries:

"Stress, Anger, Habit": "See, Ive been (mentally, silently) ragging on my looks a lot lately  chiding myself for wearing less than awesome outfits, tut-tutting at my slightly shaggy hair, scrutinizing every aspect of my skin. I fantasy shop online but I never buy anything; I just imagine the better me that would result from all my purchases of clothes and beauty supplies and things that would fix me. I have these thoughts even when I fully know and fully believe in self-acceptance, and thats whats so infuriating: Im thinking these thoughts because Ive been trained to. None of the stressful things in my life have anything to do with my body or my appearance. Not one. But Im a woman, and Im stressed out, and therefore my brain knows what to do: engage in self-loathing."

I think I do this. Mostly with shopping for new cute clothes, which will somehow fix the problem of not having enough time to work. When I say it out loud, it sounds totally ridiculous, but I swear, that's what some part of my brain believes -- and believes strongly enough to send me out (or online) shopping when I actually could be working.

"Having It": "I was a productive new mama. I worked fast and with real focus when I was away from my baby, I think because the time felt so precious and so crucial to my sense of self. I desperately wanted to feel like I had my brain back and that I hadn't sacrificed my career by deciding to run with this pregnancy. Because I was working with such intensity, it seemed like I could get by on much less than full-time care. Mr. Vane and I didn't feel enthusiastic about institutional daycare at this point, and the few places we did feel good about had years-long waiting lists. So we hired a sitter for about 16 hours a week. Over the next 8 months, I wrote my prospectus and first chapter and taught a class during those 16 hours/wk, supplemented by frequent evening and weekend work. I felt good, like I was managing things.

"It got harder. The novelty of time to work wore off and my productivity tapered off. I got more bored with my diss and worked with less gusto. The realities of never sleeping enough start to wear a person down. And so on. Somewhere along the way we shifted to 20 hours of care/wk in this nannyshare plus 2 mornings of preschool a week, and I taught a bunch more classes and finished my diss and graduated and taught even more classes. Which is to say, it all got done. But frequent evenings and weekends working turned into constant evenings and weekends working, supplemented by frequent 5am risings to get a few hours in. As many times as I have felt proud of myself for making things work, I have felt resentful of my sacrifice, of whatever I have internalized that made me prone towards that sacrifice."

Reading this entry and the comments that followed it actually made me start crying yesterday. There are so many days where I'm pleased with myself for managing to cope, to balance watching Kavi with housework with schoolwork, and it all feels like it's going smoothly, and then I sit down to write and open the file and realize that it's been TWO WEEKS since I last wrote anything, and I hate that, because if I don't write every day then a very fundamental joy has been leached out of my life without my even noticing -- plus, if I don't finish writing the books, then I can't sell the books, which means we don't get that income or the better academic job options that come with the book sale. I have to stop coping and juggling and just prioritize being a writer, damn it. I need to trust that an investment in writing time now will not only make me happier, but will lead to more financial stability in the future. And I need to believe that if we put Kavi in a good full-time daycare to make that happen, that she will be well taken care of.

It's insidious -- as an academic mother, you feel like you have the flexibility that you don't have to put your child in full-time daycare, so you don't feel like you should take that option. But of course, 'flexibility' is not the same as 'sufficient time to do your work.' Daycare is not evil. It's not even necessarily a worse option than me and Jarmila trading off watching Kavi, especially now that she's almost eighteen months and clearly getting pretty damn bored at home. (Jarmila takes her out to the park regularly, but I am often just too tired the days when I have her.) I just have to make myself believe in my heart that Kavi will be happy in a good daycare (even if she does pick up a few more colds).

We're touring two full-time daycares this week, Chicago Green Home Daycare and Montessori Academy of Chicago. They may be outside our price range, but they seem to be among the best based on parent reviews, so we can at least go and get a sense of what the best look like. Just made the appointments. We'll see how it goes.

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