I love my mom. After years of me explaining my job to her, she does pretty much get it. But. Today there was a minor... regression.
See, one of our biggest sources of conflict throughout the time that I was in graduate school is that she would expect that during summers, for example, I would be on "summer vacation" and would just have all of this time to journey back to hometown and to be paraded around to distant relatives who I don't even know, as well as to my actual family (like aunts and uncles and first cousins of mine on my mom's side and on G.'s side - and let's just note that my mom's one of ten and G. is one of 4 living siblings plus 2 who have died since coming to America, all of whom have/had at least three kids of their own and whose kids are now having kids of their own) and that if I took any time to, I don't know, see my friends (who, let's note for the record since I'm basically an only child my hometown friends are seriously like sisters to me), or to see (when he was alive) my father or my father's side of the family, then I was a jerk. Or if I couldn't come for an extended period of time in order to be paraded to her heart's desire, or come when beckoned, that I was also a jerk.
After the long slog of grad school, she finally did seem to get that this was perhaps an unrealistic expectation on her part. And she's been very cool about not putting those sorts of demands on me since I started on the tenure track.
But here we are, with my sabbatical near on the horizon. Let's note that I've got two conferences this summer, MLA in January, a conference to plan (which I'm hosting) for next summer, as well as substantial work on a draft of a book manuscript to accomplish between now and when I return to the classroom. Um, no, Mom, I will not "have all this time being on sabbatical" where you can expect me to devote days and days to seeing second and third cousins that I've met maybe twice in my life. Those people are not actually my family. I don't know them. And also, let me just say again, that sabbatical does not equal "having all this time."
And when I alerted her to this fact when she expressed this expectation on the phone today, oh yes, she accused me of being a jerk. GAAAHHHRRRGGGGHHH!!!!!
I have grown up slightly in that I didn't let the whole thing escalate into a fight, and I actually did offer her a compromise solution (if she really wants me to see these people, then she's just going to have to invite them over to our house so that I'm not trapped for like 5 hours at a pop while she visits and I sit there twiddling my thumbs, which was a challenge for her because she never has people over, but guess what: you can't expect that I'm going to devote 2-3 days to seeing people I don't know when the only times I'm planning to be in town between now and 2011 will be for two weddings of actual cousins of my own).
At any rate, the whole thing with your non-academic parent, who you think you've educated into understanding the requirements of your job, not understanding anything about your job or your life or your responsibilities? It never motherfucking ends. Sigh.
9 years ago