Sunday, 22 March 2015

I will be back

I will have too much to do - and actually spending some time with Number One Son instead of writing about it in between two conferences - so I will say you a temporary goodbye. I will have more time perhaps in April. May? At least my contract will be over then and my two men are waiting me back home.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Motherless Mother's Day

Even if I have lived in UK for years, the actual date of the British Mother's Day always leaves me with an empty look. We Finns have chosen to follow the Americans in this one and have ours in May. Last year, I managed to hit the school event just by chance by actually turning up at the school gate while coming back home for Number One Son's birthday. This year I have been painfully aware that I will probably fail to do any kind of input, because I have to teach just before Son's birthday, so my return to home is late. And as I had been afraid of, I heard yesterday on Friday that Number One Son had done a card for me at school. Yes, it is Mother's Day, Mothering Sunday this Sunday on March 15.

Not that I have much time to feel sorry about myself or Number One Son - nor Archaeologist Husband who probably gets pitiful looks from the nearby people. I am so hectically busy with trying to guarantee we have something to live on and make sure I do not totally embarrass myself during the conference season that I barely noticed that the different items online providing tips what to give Mum or how to celebrate have started to creep to the web pages. I am not probably the only mother who has to feel guilty on Sunday - and I can re-ensure you: it does not feel nice. But those lectures do not do themselves... Happy Mothering Sunday!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Peer support

Today, for one week only, in order to celebrate the International Women's Day, my two blogs have the exactly same text

The Eve of the International Women's Day could not have been lovelier than spent dining with my fellow 'Mum abroad' Susanna Niiranen - discussing among other topics blogging, photographing, Jagellonica family, children, Villa Lante, grant applications, husbands and wives, restaurants in Stockholm and everything else any person having a full life experience would do. Generally just having splendid time in one of my favourites, Kvarnen, from where we headed to Gamla Stan (it was just so much easier than to try to navigate the trendy places in Södermalm on a Saturday evening).

As a previous NCT (National Childbirth Trust in UK) branch committee member, I know how important it is to meet people in the same situation and share experiences - no matter how you do the parenting and if you are an earth-mother or a career juggernaut. As Susanna said, so many female blogs are about cooking or fashion or decorating - and much fewer, like Susanna's, about women actually having a career, while also having a family and enjoying cooking every now and then. However, I have decided to split my professional blog separate from my more private blog, since I so have things to say about both spheres, but some of the mummy stuff, such as the dealing with the SEN evaluation, school life and bilingual (well, nowadays functionally monolingual for good reasons) family life, is something I rather share more with my peers - the other parents. I also write about adults in my professional blog with their own names, whereas I do not want to write about the friends of Number One Son or their parents in a similar manner.

Well, I have the traditional one child per a female researcher, but Susanna wonders where are the female professors with more than one child? How could we give more hope for the future generations of women and show that you can be a whole person: both to explore and raise a family? Do we women have to try to create a world where 'lattepappor' stare at us in awe and iron our shirts to mirror the one we observe in certain corners? Or do we try to create something truly more equal? The estimates for Sweden to reach gender equality in different aspects of work and family life run between 11 to 125 years, so we will have a lot to do. Happy International Women's Day!

PS. To celebrate, in a more professional manner, do visit the British Women Archaeologists website and follow the Trowelblazers, the stories of those talented and wonderful women who dug it before us.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Mums and women at Oxford - and elsewhere

This week I have had real communication difficulties with Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son. First, my web cam mystically disappeared from Skype and this did happen only in Stockholm. For some reason, which I have now gathered, it worked perfectly in my hotel in Rome, but stubbornly was absent in Sweden. Secondly, I lost my voice in Rome, so there has been no bedtime stories for two nights, since my voice goes from whispering to louder, but painfully cracking. Sessions at sauna helped, but then on the way back I saw one of my colleagues and had to talk. Nice to hear the latest, but my voice is in a very fragile state. And naturally, I had to talk to my family after I realized that the Bluetooth was on and had probably picked up signals and noise from different appliances neighbours have. They could now see me, but hearing was another matter.

Working away mothers in academia have now becoming more common and I have met in Villa Lante in January a friend from the past who is at the moment in exactly the same situation as I am: the family is in one country and the mum is working in another on a temporary contract. She is also blogging about it - but in Finnish. Her situation is slightly different, though, since she has FOUR children, but their ages vary between 7 and 17. The oldest definitely does not need mother daily. However, we are still talking about a family where the father is running the everyday, while the mother is doing research abroad, this time working at Oxford in an ERC project on the Jagellonica family and it place in the royal circles of Europe. It is relatively common that male academics are away and the wife is running the everyday, but in order to have more female researchers at the universities, in these uncertain times of 'wandering postdocs', we need clearly and definitely more wonderful men for husbands. Girls, be wise when you choose.

It is fitting that my historian colleague ended up at Oxford and is writing in her blog about the lack of female role models and peer support exactly at the time when the female staff and researchers at Oxford have started to raise the matters of institutional inequality and casual misogyny in academia and created Women in humanities group. The article in the Guardian shows the gap the male and female academics have in their perception of gender equality in the universitites: males think that the situation is good while females think it is poor. Some of the behaviour towards the female speakers in conferences mentioned in the piece is quite shocking. In addition, women are constantly asked about their family in academia and males hardly ever. I did notice that my Italian colleague did ask about my husband when we discussed my work situation in Stockholm. However, in a dinner with my Italian colleagues the males did discuss their children as well - but after I asked. However, the academic moms I know value their families - and this is true with many males as well. Certain people share discussions of their families, but it is normally in less formal circumstances, often in Facebook.

As a Finn, I do notice the difference between the Nordic countries and England. The 'old boys' are everywhere to be seen and one specific remark I have heard of stated the need to get 'an Oxford man' as a professor; this shows that women do not even get a look in some cases - or there are no women competent enough. The suits clearly communicate more easily with other suits, who have often been through schools for boys before university. They may even not realize that there is a problem and do not intentionally bypass women. But the lack of female research students raising through the ranks is visible in certain corners in the Nordic countries as well, so the equal countries are not problem free either. We need more normal mixed educational and working situations from early on, an avoidance of single-sex workplaces and general appreciation of family life alongside work and professional profiling. Not to mention childcare...

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Working the list through

Dinosaurs in Leicester

This half-term there was a lot to get done – which was not helped at all by the fact that by the end of the week I had got a cold. Not a bad one, but one of those that make you to feel rubbish and shiver at least for one day. Irritatingly, I do not seem to get fever. Just everything hurts and the aching throat turns slowly in five days into a runny nose.

Creative play in museum

The work life required updating and Archaeologist Husband was entertaining Number One Son on Wednesday, so I got things forward and covered for the travelling Monday. Their achievement was a very tasty gingerbread Piggy castle. At work everything is little bit in a phase, but there is some hope that I do not fail totally any of the things I have to do before my contract comes to an end (any doubt about that reality seems now blown away, so Archaeologist Husband is starting to smile widely again, since his wife should be landing home - and share housework duties).

Pit stop before Cambridge

The Number One Son’s Birthday project is in a phase where the invitations have been partly send out and the remaining paper ones should go out when the school restarts. The trip to the venue resulted with a pleasurable play hour for Number One Son on a day when it was raining heavily. We also did a trip to Cambridge in a warm sunshine, and Number One Son both got to see the dinosaurs and ate an ice cream. It was the Pancake Day, so we had to head home early, but not before I had made a visit to the McDonald Institute to prepare to return to the Nepi publications. On return we got our pancakes - that I would have never managed to do myself.

Pancakes on Pancake Day

But it was not only about the work or the trips or the playdate on Friday. No, it was also a trip to the hearing test, since Number One Son had failed one sound. His ear hearing has now been tested three times to be excellent, so we can be pretty relaxed about these tests in the future. The children just get sometimes distracted, and verbally present something in a group of children is not Number One Son’s current forte.

It was also time to get the school uniform up to date. The trousers started to look very short indeed. Number One Son had grown 5 centimetres in a couple of weeks, so urgent action was needed. Similarly, he needed trainers or similar everyday out-of-school shoes. All items were bought. But why, oh, why we always seem to come out of the shop with something extra with Angry Birds on it!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Bloody noses and loving kisses

A return home is always a reality check, even if now it seems that I will come home at least temporarily in May. The car had broken down, so there was going to be no Finnish Saturday School, since we were waiting the garage getting the gearbox fixed. Number One Son has grown several centimetres in just two weeks, so both shoes are all getting small at the same time and the school uniform trousers are getting that slightly short comedy look. The birthday party will need serious sorting out, since I have only paid for the deposit and have to go to the site and pay and collect the invitation sheets. Not to mention having to send the invitations. In addition, Number One Son had flacked one of the classmates to the nose in a heat of the moment, so there were muted stories from Miss Teacher about the messy situation and understanding words about Number One Son's current social underdevelopment. At least he was being very sorry afterwards. Nevertheless, our son was on a green card and I had to sign his progress. Happily, he had collected a series of stickers for good behaviour during the last two school days.

New Walk Museum before Cambridge!

Archaeologist Husband is waiting for the promised contracts to materialise, so he and Number One Son had eaten basically all the food. When the car was back on road, one of the first things was a huge shopping trip to Aldi to fit the cupboards with cereals, juice and cold cuts. The busy working life has not allowed much planning for the half-term, but since I have to go to Cambridge, I can read from my cards, which museum and which playground we are going to visit.

Even if Number One Son still has miles to go in his social development, his emotional development is galoping ahead. He is now formulating in words constantly that he is missing me and saying that he loves me. He wants to give and get kisses and have family hugs. In addition, his reading is much better and one can now have a discussion with him about life, school and different matters. It is marvellous to see how a couple of months really makes a difference!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Growing fast

Suddenly I am really realizing that my marvellous little boy is not that small any more. Across Skype I suddenly see this grinning joker with mile-long arms and slim legs. He covers the tablet as a joke and keeps wriggling and teasing me until the story I read in the flowing Finnish gets him sleepy. Or he follows the young cat, which like my son is growing and becoming slender with long limbs and jiggy movements when jumping around awake. The cat often sleeps in Number One Son's room at the bed time and thus it is continuously in his mind. He can cuddle the cat, but not the mummy!

However, it seems that Archaeologist Husband is becoming younger. He has found a joy of drawing Angry Birds, following the instructions in an Angry Bird drawing book. He tries to convince me that this is a joint game with Number One Son - even if Number One Son does not really join the drawing. He apparently likes to play with the resulting 'bird cards'. Nevertheless, I am getting suspicious. We do not have the sports car or Harley Davidson, yet, but Indiana Jones costume does point to the certain direction. Archaeologist Husband already last autumn started to fret how we will celebrate our fifties this year - which actually will happen - NO-O-O, I do not tell you, yet! After all, he is in reality five months younger than me...