I got a call for creative writing on the topic of inclusions and exclusions in my inbox this morning. And, of course, when I should be reading for my class this afternoon, all I want to do is write about the ins and outs of my own places of belonging and not-belonging. It's interesting (or maybe fortuitous?) that this found my eyes today, as I've really been thinking a lot in the past few days about how I straddle a strange sort of liminal space between belonging and not in so many areas of my life right now. And how those slippery, shifty places are interconnected. The areas foremost on my brain these days though are my roles as a mama and as a student.
Take, for example, the mommy club. A fairly well-known club, if I do say so myself. A club I have a membership to, but which also always seems in immanent danger of being revoked. I'm a mama. But I'm a queer girl. (Gasp - even the queer part is slippery... I'm a queer girl who sometimes crushes on boys! GASP! Do not tell anyone this. I have enough membership cards at risk of being revoked too!) I'm a queer girl who has kids. (This will never cease to be weird - though it does seem to provide excellent opportunities for guest lecturing.) I'm a mama. But I'm divorced (But what about the children? Does anybody think of the children?!?!?). I really don't do attachment parenting and you won't catch me posting memes about the beauty of it all. (Not that it isn't, you know, all beautiful and shit). I only have my kids half-time. I 'left' my stay-at-home gig to get my phd. I like to dance and drink and flirt my ass off. (It just always kind of feels like, I'm a mama. But...).
And then there's the Phd student club. Another club I seem to be a member of these days. I've got the transit pass I.D. and overdue book fines to prove it. And it's another club in which I don't entirely fit into. I'm a student. But I'm also a mama. This is a weird combination of roles when both jobs require you go at them with 100% of your energy. I'm a student. But I'm old. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not dinosaur old. And I really like my cohort. They seem to reasonably like me. (I'm generally reasonably likeable, I think, though lately I've been wondering about this more than usual, which is sayin' something...). My cohort is full of super stars. Really - smart people. Who will interview for jobs all across the country, and others, when they finish. And get them. Smarty-pants I tell ya.
And then there's me. I'm closer in age to my profs than most of my cohort. Weird. It is. It's a bit weird. It sometimes makes me feel like a loser-y slacker. I shouldn't admit that ( know it isn't even close to the truth). But as you know well, I'm all about the humiliating admissions, so there you go. It's a bit like I'm this kid who's been put back ten grades or something. (Ummmm - not that that's anything wrong with that, natch). It's not that I don't also have the capacity to be a superstar in some way, shape or form. But my capacities (energies) often feel limited (or maybe overshadowed?) by my other roles. And on top of that, I will emphatically not be interviewing across the country (this, or any other) when I complete my doctoral work. By virtue of being divorced, it's Redneckville for me. Because my responsibility to my kids supercedes any superstardom (of the academic variety, anyways). So, maybe I'll get a sessional lecturer gig. Maybe I'll get some other kind of job. Maybe I'll hit the unemployment line. More than likely, it'll be a combination of all three. So - here I am. Straddling again - feeling like a student, but always on the periphery - never totally able to immerse in that identity. Parenting is not a school place. School is not a parent place. School brain and parent brain are *always* at odds.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm happy to be in both places. I like, I mean really like, both places. Books and babies. What's not to love?! I think my ability to hop back and forth might give me unique perspectives and, well, maybe perspective in general.
But I just don't feel like I'm ever either here or there. Most days, I feel like I'm tap dancing across two different stages at the same time. Maybe it'll make me more flexible. Or maybe it'll drive me bat-shit crazy. I guess only time will tell ;)