Monday, 11 March 2013

motherhood in the field: Separation and Arrival

The challenge has begun (on a matter of principle I refuse to use the word 'journey'!). In the early hours of this morning my four year old and I waved hasta luego to my husband and three year old son and began our journey to Mexico (aptly we left on mother's day). We will be apart for the next 2 months when they will come over to visit, in time for birthdays and await the birth of our third child. After that we shall become fragmented once more for four months. Already this gives me a deadline to work towards as I try to plan what aspects of fieldwork I can fit in within the next two months, whilst at the same time settling my four year old into her new surroundings, the last trimester of pregnancy and dealing with the temporary separation of our family.

I am aware that this preliminary post is sounding rather balanced and sensible. It must be noted that as I write I am only halfway through travelling to the fieldsite and having set off at some ungodly hour this morning am actually far too tired to think or feel the gravity of the situation. Less than 24 hours since we said our hasta luegos I am yet able to comprehend the emotions of leaving one of my children and partner behind.

I received some interesting comments and tweets after my last post relating to the topic of parenthood in the field and the work/motherhood balance in general. A consensus amongst many was the idea that fieldwork could/should be done for short periods and that finding a time to parent would be difficult. This did make me reflect on the perspective of my children and how appropriate it was to bring them into the field, but this was constantly outweighed by the acceptance of my chosen discipline of anthropology and desire to complete an in depth ethnography of my subject in question. Although compromise is the key to most things in life (most definitely concerning parenthood!) I am quite confident in defending the point that my field data would itself be compromised (and not in a positive way) if I didn't commit to a substantialy lengthy period. Wanting to understand pregnant and maternal subjectivities at least deserves one to be around for the gestation of the phenomenon. A field context is important here, my acompanying child and growing fetus are along for the ride for various practical (and biological) reasons. I want to understand motherhood and pregnant bodies in a Mexican context so I don't see too much problem with bringing my own bodily accessories into the fieldsite. Who knows, it may even result in an advantage...I'm sure my children will be the judge of that!