Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Mommy Card

This has been one of those academic 'perfect storm' weeks in terms of having a huge number of events occur in the same week, sometimes at the same time. At one point today, I realized I needed to be in two different places on campus at the same time. I have not had breakfast or lunch for days. Adding to what would have been an insanely busy week anyway, my husband has been out of town most of the week, our daughter was in a school play, I organized a 2-day workshop, and I am hosting two international visitors. I leave town this weekend, soon after my husband returns, and I am not yet ready for that trip or for the 2 trips that will follow it in quick succession. Add to that some teaching, meetings, deadlines, students, the undergrad class I am taking.. You get the idea. It's actually been a fun week, albeit hectic.

I've been doing just fine, mostly, and even worked things out so that I could have several dinners with the visitors (thanks to help from babysitters). Tonight, however, The School Play was taking place in the evening, so I arranged for four of my grad students to have dinner with the visitors, one of whom is leaving tomorrow. This afternoon, a postdoc (not one of mine) criticized me in front of a group of faculty and students for not having dinner with the departing guest on the last night of his visit. This postdoc is from the same country as the visitor, and on that basis felt compelled to point out my apparently rude behavior. Perhaps I was violating some etiquette rule in that country, but my visitor was aware of why I wasn't dining with him tonight -- we had dinner together last night, and spent some time talking about our families -- and he was looking forward to spending time with the students. My grad students are perfectly capable of entertaining a visitor. They are doing exciting research, and are friendly, interesting people.

I explained to the concerned postdoc that my daughter was in a school play this evening, but I got the feeling that this only partly excused me. The "mommy card" is not an ace, by any means.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The situation you are describing is a textbook example of what goes on in any mediocre place that is full of emotionally immature people.

Female Science Professor said...

It's a bit extreme, I would say, to characterize a place based on the attitude of a postdoc, but I can't say that overall you are that far off in your evaluation. Like many places, however, this one is quite variable -- there are many excellent colleagues/students/researchers and there are .. others.

PonderingFool said...

What a rude post-doc. The post-doc did not get it after you explained? Hope the person never becomes a PI.

Global Girl said...

The mommy card isn't an ace, because the daddy card has yet to be important. I wish my dad had pulled out a daddy card once in a while, like I mentioned before. If men were expected to pull daddy cards now and then, pulling a mommy card wouldn't be a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Some people really need to be taken down a few pegs: a PhD does not make you somehow the judge of everyone around you and immune to the rules of manners. It doesn't (and shouldn't, generally) be a public event, but that doesn't mean the correction shouldn't occur.

Mr. B. said...

Perhaps some day the Mommy Card and the Daddy Card will be discarded and be replaced by the Get a Life Card?

My dream...

Bonzo

TW Andrews said...

I don't even think that you owed the post-doc the mommy card. You'd spoken with your guest, made arrangements for them (which they were ok with), and it's absolutely no business of the post-doc why you couldn't make dinner on the last night.

YAMP said...

Criminy, that post-doc is lucky they are not working for me! Comments like that in anything but very clear jest (and given a friendly relationship) would get my postdocs a very strong talking to about appropriate professional social conduct. When my PhD students and PDFs start I explain all the criteria with which I will evaluate them in reference letters. This definitely includes how they do or do not fit into a professional workplace.

Balancing Act said...

First, I agree that FSP did not owe the rude post-doc a Mommy card. That is a distinct, the people who need to be concerned about dinner are informed, do not be nosy if you are not one of them.

As for the Daddy card, in order for our lives to work, my husband pulls the Daddy card all the time. I notice this is common in younger Daddy's (sub-40) rather than older Daddy's, so maybe the Daddy card will gain acceptance and importance with time.