20 July 2011

mommy blog vs academia

*this turned into a fairly long post with no pictures....just a word of warning. but it's personal and good and it's my blog so I can write long posts :)

I blog, obviously. In fact most people I know blog, or at least have a blog that they occasionally post on. For the most part, I enjoy reading blogs. I have found helpful household tips, recipes and even the funny kid story that I share with Rhys. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends that live far away and a great way for us to share our lives with family that is overseas. I am a fan of blogging.

I started this blog in January of 2008 after I had been in London a few months. Typically I am behind technologically so everyone else had been blogging for about 5 years before me. that's just how I role; put it off as long as possible, boycott all advancements and then jump in with two feet. It was fun though and I wanted to be a part. Writing about European politics, life on a commuter train, pub nights in London, rugby, European travel and throw in some more politics.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Overnight my blog morphed into a 'mommy blog' discussing pregnancy, morning sickness, birthing, poppy diapers and the like. Rarely were politics mentioned let alone anything else. On special occasions such as Remembrance Day, Pearl Harbor, September 11th, etc..., I would dedicate a post. The tragic deaths of the last remaing World War I war hero's also got a mention. But those post were few and far between.

Gradually my writing technique and style began to diminish. They say you lose brain cells with each child. I thought they were pretty stupid. But maybe it's true? Maybe I have become such a poor writer because the only things I write about any more are little e's latest accomplishments.

Don't get me wrong, what eleri does is beyond awesome. I want to record and capture every little moment so I have it saved forever. She amazes me every day in a million different ways and I couldn't imagine even one day without her. Even though I love (and sometimes crave) my space during nap time, some days I miss her during her 3 hour snooze. I love the little one and without question will continue to write about her.

But what about other things? I did not start this blog to be a 'mommy blog' nor do I desire it to stay that way. There are so many other things out there that I want to write about, so many other things that are important. Not to keep mentioning the over arching 'they', but they do say to be careful not to lose your own indintity to that of your kids, family, husband, work... It is important to stay focused on other things as well right?

When I read some other blogs out there it seems the only other thing people focus on is what craft project to do next, how to make a bow or what they got on their latest shopping trip. Ok, ok I realise that that was a horrible generalization that not only makes me sound arrogant and harsh but also downplays other peoples interests. That is not what I mean. Let me try this another way. I like crafts, I love to shop, and while bows are not my favourite they way that some people make them is pretty cool. But I feel stuck in the middle. When I read about how awesome some other stay at home mom is I often find myself feeling inadequte. But when I read about how great someone else manages their work and home life I, again, feel a little crap. An obvious answer is not to compare. But it is more than just that. I want to be a mom and do other things. Stuck in the middle.

I want to fight for social justice and make a pillow. I want to go to the mall, buy some things from the gap and start a reading program for kids from poor neighborhoods. I want to have 4 kids and have my PhD in military history. The thing is, I can not find a way to make all of those things work. Maybe that is why it seems people fall into two categories- stay at home mom or work full time mom. Can you stay at home, be involved with your kids and run a reading program for inner city kids? Logistically how would that work out?

I think I lost track of how to even try and make it work. I didn't see how it could, so I didn't really try. It is awesome to stay home with e all day, so I do. We play, read, learn, swim, eat a lot and then play some more. My days are awesome and fulfilling. My blog and my writing show only this side. Eleri. Wife. Mother.

What about the other sides?

When I was living in Wales I posted this about wanting to live in Suburbia. I am living here now and sometimes I feel like it is choking the life out of me. Does that make me a 'grass is always greener' kind of person? Wanting what I don't have, wishing for something else? I live in an affordable place where ele, rhys and I can have a house and our own space in the very near future. and all I want our flat in London. Do I just want what I cant have?

I have thought about that a lot and I think I have reached an answer. It is not that I have a 'grass is always greener' mentality, I just need a way to fulfill/achieve/reach all the different aspects of Kristina.

When I first moved to London I applied to start my PhD work. I was accepted into an awesome program and thought I would have my doctorate in 3 years. As part of the process I had to submit my masters thesis for the faculty to peruse. One of the advisers at the university is a very well known and highly respected World War I historian. He is the historian for my area of study. Like Michael Jordan in Basketball or Pele in soccer. You get the picture. He read and actually liked my thesis. The day I had that conversation ranks in top 3 of best moments of my life. Meeting Rhys, having Eleri and that moment. If I could, I would take that moment and frame it, hang it on my wall and relive it everyday.

But it didn't go as planned. I got pregnant, school and morning sickness didn't mix and I wanted to focus my attention on my newborn when she arrived. Graduate studies, research and dissertation writing no longer fit in. Which brings me to a few months ago. I received an email saying that I had been recommend by the afore mentioned gentleman as well as my graduate advisor for a PhD program at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. It was a dream come true. A scholarship to study exactly what I wanted to. I could be a mom and get my PhD. No more mommy blogging for me. Except that didn't go exactly as planned either.

We can't move to New Zealand because of Rhys' green card status. I can not be the kind of parent I want to be to Eleri and work on my PhD. I can not even think about having another child whilst in the program and we want more kids. Remember, I want 4. NO matter how I pushed and pulled our life, we could not make it fit. It did not make it easier that the school sent 3 more request, nor was it easier that it was a full scholarship. I had to choose- mommy blog or academia.

Ok, so I know I can't really put it in those terms because a lot more plays into it that just that. Very few decisions in life are that cut and dry. But a choice had to be made and whatever was decided, something would be sacrificed. I just could not sacrifice my family. So I am staying put in Tulsa. Occasionally my dreams will transport me to a dimly lit room, full of letters and journals dating back to the early 1900's, in the back of the National Archives, New Zealand; but for the most part I will relish my chance to raise eleri and future williams' the way I want. And enjoy as much pool time as possible.

As for the blog? Well, I have to change it a bit. The dilemma about school vs family has recently come to a close and with that comes a realisation that a sacrifice I don't have to make it history. Even though some of my very dear friends make bows, I do not have to. And that is ok. I can paint with eleri, sew a pillow and write a post detailing the life of an artillery man on western front in southern Belgium in 1917. No one may actually read said post, but I can write it nonetheless. My blog, and my life, can be whatever I make it.

As the old song says 'You can't always get what you want' may be true, but sometimes what you least except (or desire) can be even more incredible than what you had imagined. So I am looking forward to writing about Eleri and all the awesome thing she does. Like have I mentioned how she will stick her face in the water and kick her legs, 'swimming' for a few minutes? I am also looking forward to spending some time writing about history and trying to get some articles published. Who knows, maybe now is when I start writing my book.


Elizabeth said...

Kristina-I found your blog again! I hope that's ok.

I understand very well this pull of mommyhood and womanhood. Just because we have children and want to be everything they need us to be, that doesn't mean we cease to have our own interests and dreams. I'm convinced it doesn't have to be either/or, but I admit that I haven't found the perfect balance in my life. For me, I want people to know the woman behind the mom, and I think blogging is a great way to do that.

sarah said...

it was so good to hang out with you today. i left with a lot of the same thoughts. well, not about writing about history, but debating how to be a great mom but also still be myself. so, if you figure it out, let me know. :-) hope we get to see you again soon!