Working mama freak out
In theory (please let it be in practice as well, dear Bunter), my last day of work is 10/16. I’m scrambling to get everything ready for my departure. Friday as I was using my last few minutes at work to assemble my to do list for this week so it would greet me with a smile upon my arrival today, I got a call from IRB Lady. The IRB monitors research to make sure we’re not denying people treatment for their syphilis and so forth. While I am In Favor in general, it can also become a source of absurd bureaucratic nonsense, like making me learn how to conduct clinical drug trials. This is not a thing that will ever be relevant to my research. Anyway, IRB lady informed me that they were going through their own delightful bureaucratic process which required them to interview researchers and members of research teams. Immediately I detected a Thing I Do Not Have Time For and wished desperately I had not picked up the phone. Sure enough, my to do list exploded with petty, irritating things. And our consultants will need to meet with you and your team in November to prep you for the interviews, she continued. Pushing aside my astonishment that this process is so complex is requires consultants, and interviews that require prep, and also, is it at ALL possible that money and time are being spent on things that are a waste of money and time? I replied, Well, I will be on maternity leave, so that’s not possible. I’ll coordinate with my research team* but I’m not going to be able to be there.
A flurry of inefficient emails soon poured in (seriously, she must get paid by the email), and this morning one arrived asking me to confirm some dates in November for the interviews. I will be on maternity leave, so that’s not possible. I’ll coordinate with my research team but I’m not going to be able to be there, I responded.
What is so hard to understand about this concept of someone being on LEAVE? Why does protecting my right to go have a baby make me feel like such an entitled asshole? If I were having surgery, people would be like OH, OF COURSE. And in fact, I AM fucking having surgery. Maybe I should just describe it as that.
This I want to assert my rights and other people don’t want me to thing is happening with regard to my teaching, too. I’m teaching a small graduate class. While the meetings will be covered for four weeks, my Chair put some pressure on me to come back for the last two sessions, and grade the course projects. My first thought was this sounds unethical where is my faculty handbook, but normally I teach this course and Giant Intro Course, and he took that off my plate in return. I still feel a little weird about it because, well, leave should equal leave, and if I were having something done to my prostate he’d be all, OH TAKE TIME TO HEAL WE GOT YOU, but because it’s my uterus and a baby…but that knee jerk response aside, all in all it’s a good deal. Whether I am actually capable of doing this remains to be seen, but it’s two classes and four papers and I should be okay.
And with my assorted other students (thesis, seniors doing honors projects) and my Research Team (we’re getting t-shirts made!), I feel the need to explain to them why I won’t be able to answer simple questions, of which there will be many, many, many. It’s not that I won’t have time for simple questions, I explain, it’s that I won’t have the cognitive capacity to check my email, let alone answer it. You should expect a delay of at least two weeks. They blink at me with utter incomprehension. Which is appropriate, because they’re children. But annoying, because I know they’re going to be frustrated with me, and I don’t like that prospect.
And then I start thinking about all the trivial little things I have to accomplish and I am filled with despair.
In the end, none of this matters. It will be fine or it will fall apart. If it’s the latter, I can glue it back together in my typical haphazard fashion when I get back. I really have one priority, and it’s Bunter.
But yeah, I wish it were easier to do this working mama thing.
*Makes me sound so important! We’re talking about a handful of undergrads and a grad student or two here.