Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mother to 104

Novel pronouncement time: Infertility comes with a lot of anxiety. But I am currently looking out over a refreshingly different vortex of anxiety: it's final exam day in my big lecture course. Stretching out before me is a sea of 104 terror stricken young adults. Can you see the beads of cold perspiration on their brows? Can you hear the anxious scratching of their pens? Can you feel the cramping of their tiny little hands as they frantically scribble?

I confess that I love final exam days. I look at their earnestly bowed heads and am filled with a warm affection for these people. I hope they all do brilliantly, even that guy who was a total asshole the entire semester. Even that girl who had the kindness to tell me she is PREGNANT, when something vague about "medical issues" would have been a perfectly great explanation for her absences. It may be that I enjoy exam days because I don't have to do anything (except cast the occasional baleful cheater-discouraging eye over my flock). Or they may make me feel all super powerful, or they may just signal that the semester is finally fucking over (well...except for the grading of all these exams). But I think it's that I really am fond of these students and am wishing them the best. Every group of students teaches me something new, and much of what they've taught me will, I contend, make me a better mother. (Particularly if I foster-adopt some teenagers.) Let me enumerate some of these lessons.

1. Faceb.ook is more important than you, mama. I don't do FB myself because I'm a crotchety luddite (and it seems like I spend a lot of time listening to others complain about it), but it's clear that if FB is still around by the time I acquire progeny, it will absorb a lot of their time. (Time they could be spending telling me what a great mother I am.) Just as FB absorbed a lot of my students' time while I was lecturing in their general direction.
2. Teenagers are irresponsible. I have a lot of first year students who are in fact teenagers. At first I was shocked at their poor time management and inability to connect cause and effect, but now I know it's not personal. They're teenagers. I doubt that I will actually be able to use this information if I get teenagers someday (because my own teenagers will be so infuriatingly different), but who knows.
3. You're going to lose your temper, and all you can do is try to make it right. I (mildly) lost my shit with a student this semester because he was all whiney about his grade. Keeping my temper is one of the things that scares me most about the idea of actually being a mother. I like to dream that ridiculously exasperating students are at least some kind of practice.

See how far ahead of the game I will be? It's going to rock. And for all the anxious infertile women in the two week wait, or waiting to hear about an adoption or a test or the next step, let us all give thanks that we are not undergraduates taking a final exam. Because it is clearly very stressful.


  1. I certainly do NOT miss final exam week. What misery! My little sis is in the midst of it right now, and all I can tell her is - wow, I really don't miss that part! Which, strangely enough, she doesn't find at all helpful...
    I taught high school for a couple years, and patience/keeping your temper is definitely a "practice makes perfect" kind of virtue.
    Glad your semester is almost over :).

  2. I taught upper-level high schoolers for a long time...and your lessons are very true!!

    I used to love exam day too!!