Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Time and the Toddler

I relapse here as Digital Dad, on parent leave with Ben.
There seems to be different kinds of stress. The stress of being at home with a 1 year old baby who has a cold (second one this month) is physical but not really mental. I am starting to get a system going with being at home with Ben and it is becoming smoother and enjoyable. However, sleep is a thing of the past (for me anyway). It I want to have any sort of focus or activity outside being with Ben I have to do it at night or when he sleeps during the day. This is OK and gives me a window of around 5 or 6 hours a day to read or write (on a good day). Compared to full time PhD study the stress of being a full time parent is very different. When I am with Ben it is all happening NOW and I don't have to think so much beyond the hour or day which I am experiencing/dealing with. When studying my mind is not only in the moment, fully consumed (on a good day) with what I am reading, writing or discussing but I have to plan ahead with deadlines and time tables. Added to this is the need to be aware of other relevant research and texts on the subject which has been created over time. In the case of English Literature this can stretch back hundreds of years. With digital subjects it becomes the practice of keeping track of huge amounts of information flowing through email lists, new publications, online sources and seminars. The stress of being a PhD candidate really seems to go to the core of being who you are. It is not so much a job as a way of life. This is perhaps one commonality with being a parent at home, it is (hard) work but it is not really what I would call a job. Being a parent takes over your life (In most cases....I suppose there are parents who hold it at a distance for many reasons) and there is no real "quitting time" in the sense of coming back tomorrow and finishing up then ("No..I'll feed you tomorrow when I can schedule it with your bath"). However, the mind does not have to engage in the same way as with university work. I don't have to back up what I do with Ben with a reading list or provide examples from parallel sources. It is rather just done and then we move on to the next thing. Very little stays still in the world of a 1 year old. At university it sometimes feels like nothing moves (including me).
This has been some reflections on university and baby; "one of these things is not like the other one".......

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