Monday, September 12, 2011

Fried Brains

One thing that happens when you become a mother is that your brain gets fried. I’m sure there is a logical, evolutionary reason for this but for an evolved career woman like me it means that it is now impossible to focus on any intellectual task for more than a couple of minutes, if at all. This is why I am sitting at London's finest Harvey Nic's 5th floor restaurant drinking lattes and blogging about traveling with a baby. Or should I say blogging about not working, because this was what my life is all about at the moment. I have managed to get child care for Zoe, at least 5 hours every day, I got my library card to the British library where I have all the quiet, all the electrical outlets and all the lunch I need for a good work day. Yet, I keep finding excuses to go somewhere else, either because I really do need hair conditioner (I squeezed the last drop out of my travel bottle this morning), or because I am not entirely sure which research project to work on yet. Today I needed to go to the Danish Embassy to vote in the Danish general election, something I haven't had the opportunity to do for about ten years and therefore prioritized. (In fact the last election I voted in was the Scottish regional election in 2006, which I was eligible for as a European citizen, opposite the Danish ones which I haven't been eligible to vote in for many years. Don't ask, it is complicated.)

One of the problems with a fried brain is not that "they didn't tell me this would happen", because I sort of knew something like this would happen through reading about motherhood, listening to other mothers and simply realizing how much energy would go into a child. The problem is that I thought that I, with my amazing drive and great ambitions (ha ha), would be able to work past this quickly and get back in the grind or that I would at least be able to focus on work in little chunks of 1-2 hours. How could I not? I have always been hard working and master deadlines like the pro researcher, working 12-14 hours the last week, with focus, with attention to details. Yet, I find myself so overwhelmed with the back trail of projects that all need my attention, quickly getting older, outdating the empirical data and making me forget why I was studying that phenomenon in the first place. Not only do I feel the obligations of my research projects slowly unraveling me, I am also weighed down from my students' expectations of my involvement and for some a definite need of my involvement. I am letting them down by not working on their project, yet, I know I don't have the time to polish it enough for the deadline, so why does it matter?

So I end up going Harvey Nic's for breakfast on a Monday instead of working on my research, wondering when I will get my brain back.

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