I sometimes joke with friends that I gave birth twice during grad school. Once when I delivered my son at Queen’s hospital in Honolulu, and a second time two and a half years later when I successfully defended my dissertation.
Both births were intense, simultaneously filled with joy and anxiety.
Both events bestowed on me complicated identities that regularly felt incompatible with one another.
When I formed each sentence of my dissertation, I wondered what my son was doing and whether I should be playing with him instead of his daycare teacher. As I read my son to sleep at the end of his day, a list of chapter edits scrolled through my head.
There was rarely a moment when I felt settled in either role as academic or mother.
And yet, when the identity of one threatened to consume me, the other swooped in to remind me of my wholeness. There was security in the tenuous balance of juxtaposing these major life roles.