Different Reactions

It’s really weird that every time I mention I’ll be traveling to a conference several people at work ask me in horrified, hushed voices “But who’ll be taking care of Klara when you are gone?” while not a single person at church does.

It’s just bizarre that the reaction from the church ladies, even the elderly ones, is invariably, “Wow, that’s great! What’s the conference about? What’s your talk about? Which part of Spain are you going to?” And the reaction from academic ladies is very often, “And how does Klara feel that you are leaving her alone? Will she be sad? Have you made arrangements for Klara while you are away?”

No, I’ll just drop her in the woods and hope that wild wolves will take care of her. Because I’ve got to be just that kind of shitty mother if I dare to travel for work.

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6 thoughts on “Different Reactions”

  1. “It’s really weird”

    Makes perfect sense to me. For the church ladies getting married having a child is a floor, not a ceiling. As long as you’ve fulfilled that (as you have) they’re supportive of anything else you do in addition to that. My mother who traveled every summer (sort of PR work) and dealt with church ladies in a couple dozen towns every year was met with the same reaction (as far back as the 1960s if not further).

    Your work colleagues either take participating in international conferences for granted but remain uncertain and defensive about their domestic achievements (or else they’re just really shitty and trying to guilt you to compensate for the fact that they’re not going to Spain).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My female academic colleague expressed shock/dismay/disbelief that I leave my younger two boys (who are 12 and 8, so not exactly infants) with their brother who is 19 and home form college while my husband and I go to work. Like, do I trust him to take care of them? Yes, I fuckin’ trust him. He’s a legal adult who can take care of himself and can take care of his brothers in their home in the middle of the day for a few hours. He barely needs to do anything, maybe give the 8 yo lunch mostly because the 8 yo is too short to reach some stuff in the fridge.

    Mind you, 13 or 14 yo girls routinely babysit neighborhood infants, yet at 19 my son is not to be trusted with with his own school-aged siblings?

    Like how your colleagues don’t assume that Klara’s father is capable of taking care of his child for a few days.

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    1. It’s like it doesn’t even cross these people’s minds that Klara’s father exists. Although they’ve all met him. It’s so weird.

      And gosh, I can’t believe your kids are so big. It feels like your youngest was an infant just the other day. It’s scary.

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  3. Competitive parenting seems to be something that people only do to peers. My colleagues critique the parenting styles of their neighbors all the time. Some of these comments are implicitly critiques of other professors’ parenting styles. (When I had a party with professor friends from my school and another school, the back-and-forth judging between schools was epic.)

    But I’ve never heard them say one word about the parenting styles of the department staff, who sit in a lower educational/professional tier. Sure, their neighbors are often in different professions as well, but their neighbors at least send their kids to the same school.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the church ladies critique parenting styles of people in their own educational/professional class. But apparently none of them are professors, so you are in a different tier, not somebody with whom they see themselves competing.

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  4. Every time you mention your colleages’ reactions to this kind of thing, I always think of the line “The father exists.” For some reason, that line from your previous post has stuck with me. :p

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