Searching for Balance but Finding Guilt A Story of Academic Mothers in South Africa
This article draws on the data from a larger ethnographic study which tracked the lives of three academics who had just become mothers. In it, I respond to the question I have repeatedly encountered, in a variety of forms: How can I be an academic and a mother without going insane? Two linked thematic issues emerge from the data: (a) the search for balance between academic work and motherhood is elusive; and (b) academic mothers are torn apart by guilt. In using Grosz’s idea that feminists need to consistently critique and construct, I make a case for academic mothers seeking to ‘let go’ in order to ‘let in’ more liberatory ways of being ‘academic’ and ‘mother’. I argue too that Grosz’s idea should be extended to include ways of destructing paralysing notions of what it means to be an academic and a mother, simultaneously.
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