Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Can I put "be a mom" on my calendar too?

Gabriel’s 5th birthday is coming up and he noticed yesterday that the momentous occasion had not yet been marked on the family calendar (not that we could possibly forget since he has been talking about it for weeks, of course). So Gabie gets me a pen, walks me over to the calendar, points to the square, and says, “Write ‘Gabriel’s Birthday’ right here.” I dutifully comply. Then he notices that it’s a day of the week when I go up to campus to teach in the evening. He says, “Now write ‘stay home from class’ right there.”

My heart cracks a little and I say, “Honey, I can’t miss class. I’m the professor. I have to be there.”

“But how are we going to have cake and ice cream? When are we going to open presents?”

“We’ll do all of that when I get home.” I say, knowing full well that I don’t get home until nearly 9pm. “We’ll have a late night party.”

“Just stay home. Tell your students it’s my birthday.”

I’m sure they’d understand (and probably shout for joy) but there’s just no way I can cancel class. How do I explain to him that as much as I love him, if we don’t cover Freud and Kafka that night, we won’t get to the Harlem Renaissance and Jazz the next night….and so on for the rest of the semester. I teach with a tight schedule and I never miss class. The last time I missed class was.....let me think….oh yeah, 5 years ago when I gave birth to Gabriel. And even then I had a substitute all arranged. And I probably would have only missed one day except for that whole “cord around his neck, unexpected c-section” thing. Hmmm, it seems Gabriel is always trying to get me out of teaching.

I’ve taught on various birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, my anniversary, parent-teacher conference nights, and most recently while Ethan was getting his arrow-of-light award in cub scouts. It’s strange that since I am home with my kids during the day I don’t usually think of myself as a “working mom.” But then my son reminds me that I am.
Berthe Morisot,
Julie Morisot and her nurse
My favorite impressionist artist, Berthe Morisot, somehow managed to balance motherhood with a successful career as a painter. It’s rare in the history of art to see a woman who painted professionally but also seemed so attached to her family. I’ve always loved Berthe Morisot’s art and admired her balancing act. But it just dawned on me that she cheated. The evidence is in her paintings. You see servants and maids and the nanny who holds the docile daughter for mommy to paint. Well of course she had time to develop her talent! Give me a slew of helpers and I’ll bet I could paint just as well. Or at least I could be the world’s greatest teacher. Or at the very least I'd have a clean house. So Berthe’s balancing act isn’t quite so impressive to me now. I want to see how she’d do on that tightrope without a net.


coach said...

beautiful painting . i love it !

LammyAnn said...

wow. beautiful painting... and beautiful thoughts. Thanks for coming around my place!

Kimberly said...

Aww...that just hurts the heart, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be great if we could be everything we want to be for everyone that we love?

scribbit said...

That hits close to home. So often I say I'm with my kids full time, but more and more I'm working online, almost to the point of having a de facto job. Am I deluding myself? Are they missing me?

Julie said...

Thanks for visiting.

Thanks. I think it's beautiful too, but it's a little sad that the baby is held by her nurse -- not her mom. I guess that's my point.

Indeed. I wish I could clone myself and be in 4 places at once. But then I'd likely forget where I left me.

The online stuff is my big guilt trip lately. At least I'm getting paid when I go off to teach. When I'm sucked into the internet, it's pro bono.

The Lazy Organizer said...

Oh what I wouldn't give for a couple nets!

Julie said...

Yeah, nets with ultra cleaning, babysitting, cooking, and chauffeuring powers. Do you think they sell those at Costco?