Artwork for podcast Academic Aunties
Pandemic Parenting, Part II
Episode 1126th January 2022 • Academic Aunties • Ethel Tungohan
00:00:00 00:49:10

Share Episode

Shownotes

On Part II of our pandemic parenting series, we talk to Dr. Yolande Bouka (@YolandeBouka), Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen's University. In this episode, we talk about how the pressures of being a parent in academia, and in a pandemic, are hitting us personally. Auntie Yolande talks about prioritizing our health and our needs. In doing so, we are modelling to the people in our lives, including our children, why it is important to advocate for ourselves.

Related Links

Thanks for listening! Get more information and read all the show notes at academicaunties.com. Get in touch with Academic Aunties on Twitter at @AcademicAuntie or by e-mail at podcast@academicaunties.com.

Transcripts

Ethel Tungohan 0:05

I’m Dr. Ethel Tungohan, an associate professor of politics at York University. Welcome to Academic Aunties. Today, we have Part 2 of our pandemic parenting series. When we mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago that we were doing a couple of episodes on pandemic parenting, we heard from many of you. We read about how tired and burnt out you’re all feelin as we enter year three of this pandemic. One listener told us about the hunger games of trying to book vaccine appointments to all our family members. Several listeners talked about having to be the most organised in her entire life trying to juggle virtual schooling, writing, researching, teaching, and doing service. And yet others talked about the absence of institutional support. Despite facing multiple care responsibilities, and living with immunocompromised family members, many colleges and universities – and even labour unions that are meant to protect faculty members - are essentially shrugging and saying, “that’s too bad but you’ve gotta make it work.” Others highlighted the struggle to find care for children while so you can produce before funding runs out, and feeling like being on your own while also juggling grad school. These struggles can hit us so personally. The pressures of being a parent in academia are tough at the best of times. Add in a pandemic and the feelings of guilt, uncertainty, and being overwhelmed are just magnified. It makes me wonder, how do we manage pandemic parenting on a personal level? How can we rethink some of the learned expectations that we’ve adopted after being in academia for so long?

Ethel Tungohan 1:54

So today on Academic Aunties, we are so so privileged to have one of my favorite people who actually, I text her a lot for, for parenting. It's Dr. Yolande Bouka, and she is an assistant professor in the Department of Politics at Queen's University. Thank you so much for coming here. And is it okay if I call you Auntie Auntie Yolande, because that's how we refer to people here.

Yolande Bouka 2:21

Of course. I'm an auntie to many. So thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited. And it's such a you know, amazing way to catch up because we actually haven't seen each other in a long time.

Ethel Tungohan 2:32

I know. And I think the last time was where we were we having coffee at the Danforth? And I was pregnant.

Yolande Bouka 2:40

Yes.

Ethel Tungohan 2:40

Oh, my gosh.

Yolande Bouka 2:41

Yes.

Ethel Tungohan 2:42

Was that three years ago? Or two years? Oh, my gosh.

Yolande Bouka 2:45

It was. It was that long ago.

Ethel Tungohan 2:49

Oh, my goodness. Well, I'm happy that we're catching up and also recording this. Because I've been wanting to have you on the pod because I just I mean, I love everything that you share on Twitter. And it's just such an honor. So I guess we'll start by asking, how's it going? How's pandemic parenting? This is the start of year three.

Yolande Bouka 3:15

hat didn't work out right, in:

Ethel Tungohan 6:14

like well, actually, in March:

Yolande Bouka 6:41

Stage one? Stage two? Stage three? Yeah, and, and with which child, right? Because, aside from the logistics of trying to keep our children safe, there's also the way each child responds to not being able to go to school, not being able to play with their friends, not being able to participate in the activities that they normally do, and feeling like they have to stay home, or there's a sense of fear. And I posted this on on Twitter, not too long ago. I was talking to my youngest child. And I was reminding her of a time where she was playing with people in different classes, I was asking her the name of her classmates. And she was like, oh, you know, there's so and so. And so and so. And I'm like, Oh, what about you know, people that are not in your classes? And she said, Oh, I know a couple of names, but I don't know them very well, because, you know, we only stay in our own class. And then when we play at recess, we have our own spot. We don't play in other classroom spots. And I was like, oh that's unfortunate. It's not like before, and she's like, oh, what do you mean? Do you remember there was a time where, you know, at recess, you would go hang out with your older sister, because you wanted to spend time with her. And she had to think about it for a few minutes. And then it came back to her and she said, right, I used to go, it used to be okay, it used to be safe to go play with people from other classes. And then she was she realized, like oh COVID. And I'm like, yeah, it's COVID. Right. But she actually doesn't remember a period where it was okay, safe to play with people in the same grade as her but in a different classroom. While my oldest, you know, you know, really struggled with being able to play, he's the kind of person who makes friends on the pitch, like, he plays a lot of sports. And all his friendships were around activities. So for him, the evolution of the pandemic, and the opening up and closing and opening and closing has definitely had an impact on his mood and his mental health, but also the type of energy and that I have to put towards making sure that he's going to get out of this on the other side.

Ethel Tungohan 9:04

And how old are your kids again? Because you have three children, right?

Yolande Bouka 9:08

Yes they are age seven, nine and 11.

Ethel Tungohan 9:13

So it's such a wide range. And can you speak a little bit more about how, you know, you we can't have like universal parenting styles, each child reacts differently. And so there are different experiences they've each had with a pandemic as well. Like, how have you toggled that?

Yolande Bouka 9:27

Yeah, it's really difficult because you know, you're right. I mean, I consider them to be relatively close in age, and yet they're going through things, in different like very different ways. My youngest was barely introduced to the concept of, you know, learning in school, as opposed to playing in daycare when the pandemic started so for her the experience of schooling is tied to online, very much so and she has a very strong dislike for that. So there's a lot of negotiation that goes on with paying attention. And I know that I'm not the only one. A lot of parents have struggled with younger children, to keep them engaged and enjoying the learning process, even though it's been remote. You know, my middle child is very different, has a very different personality. And, you know, she's managed things a little bit better than the other two. But at the same time, she's also the kind of person who doesn't want to make waves. Maybe it's the middle child syndrome. You kind of want to you want to keep things cool, but, you know, older children who are approaching their tweens, you know, there's a whole social element and their change of moods that you also have to ask yourself: am I dealing with them growing up? Or is this something that is related to the pandemic? So there's a lot of questions that you ask as well, right. So luckily, I have, you know, various communities of people who have children of different age groups that you can kind of say, oh, no, this is normal, you know, going towards my teenage years behavior. No, this is this might be COVID. This might be COVID related and lockdown related, which you have to, without wanting to, I don't like know, this idea of helicopter parenting and being, you know, following everything, but you want to be aware, you want to be aware, and I've realized that I've grown as a person, and am so much more dependent on my children emotionally, because I was, you know, I've been isolated from most of my friends as well for most of the pandemic. So, you know, whatever I do to, to find pleasure in life, in spite of restrictions, is not only for them, but it's also for me, you know, but that's, that's also not the type of parent that I was before. I mean, sure, I enjoy hanging out with my kids. It's a lot of fun. But I'm also, you know, my own person, and I had, it was very easy for me to travel and because of the nature of my research and my work, it's a lot more difficult for me now to think about leaving my children behind for a work trip than it was. It's also changed me, it's changed them, it's changed me and my relationship with them and with my partner. I found emotionally that I've become more dependent on my family, my nuclear family unit than than I was in the past, which is, I'm not quite sure if I'm comfortable with this just yet.

Ethel Tungohan:

I mean, is it dependence on your nuclear family? Or is it a reprioritization of the relationships that we hold the most dear?

Yolande Bouka:

Yeah, I think it's a little bit of both because of the nature of the work that we do. Right. And because of the nature of my institution, which also, you know, again, I'm speaking from a position of relative privilege. I'm in a research intensive university, my teaching load is not extraordinary. It's quite good. I've been able to continue part of my research, despite the distance. I am working with partners in different countries, which means that I don't have to go to the hospital unlike my sister who's a doctor, right? So she has to go to the hospital all the time. I could I get to stay home. So I've been able to see literally, like, see my children differently. Learn about their interests in a much more involved way. But by the nature of you know, we're in a house, we're all on top of each other. And, you know, we hear we listen, we see how they respond. Even when my daughter is on calls with her girlfriends, I eavesdropped, you know, accidentally, sometimes, and it's really cute, but I've gotten to know them. And I've gotten to appreciate them a lot more. But it's also reprioritized some of the things that I think are no longer important. So you're absolutely right.

Ethel Tungohan:

What are some of these things that are no longer important? Because that's interesting to me to understand.

Yolande Bouka:

One of the challenges that emerge from online schooling and me working from home is my children being acutely aware of how much I'm working and then coming and saying, When do you when are you getting off the computer? Like when are you coming to come play with me? Right? Which is you know, academics we work flexible hours, but we also work a lot and that means that often our children see us work. I'm not the kind of person who likes working on campus. So my office spaces are often in my home. But because they spend much more time with me they now have developed this idea that mom works all the time. Mom is always working. And I do not want to give them the perception that I'm always working, which is sometimes a little bit true. But I don't want them to see think that in order to succeed in this life, you have to be working all the time. So one of the things that has been prioritized with regards to how they perceive my work life, is to find balance, not only for my health, obviously--the balance, I don't even know what that means--at this point, you know, model healthy habits of of work, and separation between work and your personal life, which I wasn't particularly good at doing before. I also, even as things got a little bit better in the past here, and you get invitations to travel, I used to be very comfortable, I was maybe too comfortable with with, you know, I would something be gone out of the country, every single month. Yeah, you know, a workshop here, a conference there. A research project and opportunity for developing. And I loved all of them. But I'm no longer willing to do them as freely as I used to. Because I think it's pushed me to also think more critically about how I spend my time. So now, these are the things that I've reprioritize in my health as well, because I think many of us who've had to not only parent our own children, but as professors also fell into some sort of not very much caring responsibilities for our students. Yeah, those that we supervise, who are a little bit older, there are senior students and undergrad or graduate students. But even just our students in general, I found myself in caring, mentally caring, and emotionally caring for them, as they went through this, whatever period we're in. And that left a very small space for me to think about myself, because, you know, you see on social media, you know, be awesome with all the extensions, and you know, like, show some grace to your students. And which we do, because we also know that that there are human. They're struggling on the other side of the screen, right. But I'm like, Who's, who's considering me a human who? Like, I don't know, if the university does? I don't know, if my students do.

Ethel Tungohan:

Who's showing grace to us, right, because we're, we're seeing, we're giving allowances to the institution. We're giving allowances. And by that, I mean, not just our employers, but also to our provincial governments, right, like, We are the safety net, right? We're doing this for our families, we're doing this for everyone. And I think, who's who's doing this for us?

Yolande Bouka:

That's a big question. You're absolutely right. Who? And whose responsibility is it to watch out for our interests, not just material interest, I'm really talking about, you know, us living through surviving through this, and coming out whole on the other side. And I realized that, you know, with the exception, of course, like my...I'm also very lucky, because my department, you know, is filled with people who are very caring, who, you know, will, when I don't see limits sometimes will say, hey, you know, what, no, you don't need to do this. You know, I'm really lucky. They're like, this is I know, a lot of people who don't have that kind of working environment. But overall, you know, when you're thinking about recalibrating, you know...I've been really following the nap ministry online. I think a lot of us have, because it's talking about the value of, of rest, you know, and the need to disconnect from this capitalistic model where all we are is, you know, means of production, you know? So all these things, I think, have been ways to rethink not only my, the way I approach my work, but also the way I approach my family life and what I want my kids to think about when they're reflecting about the work that they do, the work that I do, the kind of people they want to be. I don't want them to think that it's that inherently as a human being, you have to work yourself to the bone like a lot of people do. Most people on this planet do. But I don't want to raise them to think that it is the the purpose of living life.

Ethel Tungohan:

I really like what you say when it comes to kind of modeling. You know what it's like to be a healthy human and what success looks like. And I think it's true as you speak, I was nodding a lot, because I think even my kids, right, who are two and five, in the beginning of the pandemic, I was trying to work as if it wasn't the pandemic, and I was trying to...I was killing myself staying up till three, 4am meeting my responsibilities. But then, you know, I got really sick. Like, you know, not COVID. But you know, I got diagnosed with strep, and my body just collapsed, right? And then I was thinking, why, why are we doing this? And it's so hard to unlearn the behavior, though, right? Have you succeeded in unlearning these things?

Yolande Bouka:

I remember speaking to, you know, somebody who works in research support at my university, and he was like, make a list of all the things you want to do in an ideal schedule, you know, and then we'll look at it. And then when I did mine, he's like, you don't have a whole lot of wiggle room. Well, yeah, everything all the stuff got get done. And he was like, well, and then I have another colleague who said, you know, I blocked lunchtime. I don't schedule meetings during my lunchtime. And that to me was a revolutionary idea to think I should not be...we're actually allowed to have lunch, not like shove a sandwich down my throat as I'm like, typing furiously to respond to all the emails, but I should step away from my computer, have lunch and then come back to work. And somewhere in my day, take a break. My mom used to work at Zellers, when it was a thing that still existed. Yes, years ago. Yeah. When she used to work at Zellers, she used to have a 15 minute break. I used to work at stitches when I was a teenager, I had 15 minute breaks. I actually didn't, I was like looking at my schedule, and I didn't have much breaks. Get a break pee break. None of this was fitting into my schedule. This is this is what I'm talking about. Right? Like you sit down on your computer and everything that you do when you like, your stomach is really, really hungry. You make sure that your kids have a snack though, of course. I shout like did you guys drink water? Did you guys have your snack? Get away from the computer? You're on break from school right now. I have their schedule on the wall. Yeah, but I didn't do that with me. So I'm telling them what to do. But I'm not modeling it. And most importantly, you know, I'm running myself like a car with no fuel. Makes no sense. And I think you feel me right.

Ethel Tungohan:

I feel you. And I think you know what, though? I think so I get it. And I'm trying to unlearn a lot of the behaviors that you know, a lot of my learned behaviors, but can I just be real here a part of the reason for why I'm trying to run like a car without fuel was first, at least at the beginning of the pandemic. I didn't have tenure yet. And now I have tenure. Thank God right. So I felt like I had to...

Yolande Bouka:

Lets celebrate that more though. So you got tenure in a pandemic? Hello?

Ethel Tungohan:

Yeah, I did. Oh, and trust me, I don't know. I mean, I we celebrate, you know, I bought like lobster. I celebrate, I celebrate, you know, we celebrate the wins. And when this is over, we will...

Yolande Bouka:

We have to like, celebrate together and we'll celebrate with you.

Ethel Tungohan:

For sure, we will have a feast because Filipinos love eating and we're going to...not like eating, eating until you're full, eating until you're you're too full to walk. Right? But I think one of the things that let's just get real here is that I feel that you know, as a woman of color, I feel I have to not just meet the bar, I have to exceed the bar. And so during the pandemic, what happened was, I mean, I don't even know if it's external pressures. Maybe it is because of the the the signals I've gotten where my presence is kind of rendered illegitimate. But a lot of what I think drives me is the need to show that I am not an imposter that I am validly here. And be, you speak about your parents, honestly, for me, I'm like, Look, I've got a, I've got a, I've got to exceed what my parents were able to accomplish as an immigrant child, because through their labor, and through their hard work and through their parenting, this is where I got to be where I am, right. And so it's always like, trying to...so I have these competing urges. And now we're being told, okay, rest and slow down. But then I'm like, yeah, but what about my parents? Who had to go through so much? Isn't that kind of me being? I don't know. I don't know, isn't that me kind of not really honoring them?

Yolande Bouka:

I hear everything you're saying. Everything you're saying is resonating so deeply into my core. And, and, you know, I've talked about this before, but in addition to the pandemic writ large, different communities experience other types of grief. At the same time, when you think about your community, Ethel, like the bulk of the care labor in this country, has literally lay on the shoulders and the feet of the Filipino community, particularly those in Ontario, and in Alberta. I know that in Quebec, you know, there were, you know, racialized women who made the largest number of workers and long term care facilities as well. It's gendered labor, it's racialized labor, you've written about this. And for the black community, we were and continue to be in this moment of, you know, a revolution that was reignited and re-emphasized through the murder of George Floyd. So that also required a different type of care imperatives care for our community, healing in community, you know, making sure our children are aware and yet protected, when faced with these realities that we work in and live in and live through. It adds a level of exhaustion, yes, that I think maybe other members of different communities don't necessarily understand. And then as a child of an immigrant, there is also the expectation...I see that statistics, right of children of immigrants, you know, you know, often trying or succeeding and performing really well. But then their children, the following generation...I all sorts of care about these numbers. When I think about parenting in the pandemic, as a child of an immigrant and an immigrant myself, you know, I wasn't born here. And the pressures of performance. Yeah. The counterweight to that Ethel, in all honesty is that I don't want to die. For this job, right, I remember a previous podcast episode of yours that talked about care, like caring for oneself, right? I see a very large number of women in academia, women of color, and academia. And here, this is not a scientific research, I'm just looking anecdotally of what I hear and see dying at a very young age of, you know, chronic diseases, different conditions. And, and part of the reason, of course, is you know, well, you know, the health outcomes are lower for women, for women and for women of color when engaging in the medical system. There's data on that. But the work that we're doing is also extremely emotionally demanding, physically and intellectually demanding and it's a high stress to be a woman of color in institutions that were not designed for us as gendered individuals and as people of color.

Ethel Tungohan:

Society, especially for women of color, venerates the self sacrificing mother, right, who doesn't even think about her needs, who gives gives gives and gives? And yet, you know, what are we teaching our children if we don't remind them that mommy is also human because we forget that we're human.

Yolande Bouka:

You know, they're children. So they're seeing us as providers of safety, providers of love, of care, of protection of everything, you know, I and I give all of that, but I want to teach them the...maybe I shouldn't have used the termr reminder because they know I'm a human being but the conceptualization of, you know, a full person outside of yourself, you know, who also has needs, needs that need to be met, is not always what they associate with a parent and particularly with mothers, right? And like, I have to teach them boundaries about my time and their time, and my need for nourishment and my need for space to read, not because I'm a selfish mother, quote, unquote, but I also want them to be able to model these practices of boundaries when they go out in the world, but also for, for them to, to be able to set boundaries for me as well, and I get older, and they get older, and no parents sometimes are not particularly great at having boundaries with their own children when they're grown up, right.

Ethel Tungohan:

I think, honestly, this is I'm learning so much too, because one of the things that, honestly, that I probably need to remember is my mom needs boundaries. But it's so it's so antithetical to the way we've been taught and the way we grew up, right, because I would always, I would always assume that, of course, my mom will, like, drop what she's doing. To come to me, and that's, that's in a way that made me feel secure, right. And that's actually something that's a huge source of comfort. But I think it's also important to remember that parents are humans too, like, my mom is a human, my kids need to remember, I'm a human, and you want to model that behavior. So when they grew up, and start to develop more of these interpersonal relationships, that they also don't under prioritize their health. Because I'm a people pleaser, right? I want to please people. And so that's, that's, you know, had me pursue unhealthy behavior where I am under prioritizing my needs and in support of others. And that's not good because I want to keep living.

Yolande Bouka:

Yeah. And I think that's the balance right? In a society and also a cultural setting, where the community is so important, right? So the, the individual contributions to build you know, strong and healthy communities sometimes run against this what is perceived to be more individualistic behavior or values. You know, my children and I have watched the movie Encanto last weekend.

Ethel Tungohan:

I love that movie! Oh my gosh, honestly, tears is it's, like, literally, like my five year old daughter, I'm just gonna say this. She, she was like, she had never had this emotional reaction to a film. Wayne and I had to kind of hold her and be like, she was like, because it resonates so much with Filipino culture, even some of the dresses and some of the cultural tropes. Anyway, I interrupted, but...

Yolande Bouka:

Oh, no, but you've said everything, right. So there's also a lot of references for, you know, my culture and some of the values that were that I was raised with. And then we live in a different time, we live in a different place, and I really love this this sense of community and, you know, I'm not going to spoil the movie, but you know, you get those lessons in the movie. And but it's also a lesson for adults, you know, about how, you know, what is the value of the individual, you know, and how a, a flourishing individual can be, can provide so much more to the community once that person is nourished, right?

Ethel Tungohan:

100 percent percent, one of the oh my gosh, I could we could write like a dissertation about this movie. Bruno, I mean, I'm not spoiling it right, because it's the beginning. Bruno was kind of negated as the bad egg. Right. And he and you know, and we can talk about why that is, but I do think, you know, because his value as an individual wasn't appreciated nor seen more so than a lot of the other a lot of the other siblings, right. I think because he was kind of like set aside, then that worked to the detriment of the community, right. So I'm loving this metaphor. If we nurture and nourish the individual, right, and set individual boundaries and value what the individual needs, that actually leads to greater community flourishing. As per the movie.

Yolande Bouka:

Exactly, exactly. I'm sorry, you know, people, it's a podcast about parenting. So we will go on to talk about movies for children that are actually drawing amazing lessons for adults as well. You know, you think about Louisa. And when Mirabel goes and ask her what's going on, and she talks about the pressure, you know, it's not that Louisa is not, does not want to help. But she's, that's her strength. She believes that her strength is the only value she has to contribute to her family. And without it, she's worthless, right? So if you learn to if we learn to value in ourselves as individuals, you know, who we are, find out who we are what we want. And maybe it's also because I turned 40 .ast year, so like, there's all this thinking about like, Oh, I'm halfway there, if all things go, Well, I'm around halfway there. Maybe it's time to think and check. But it's, you know, nourishing the individual to build community. Community, for me is not just a lesson for my children, but it's also a lesson for myself, right? I, I can help longer, I can engage and build stronger and more sustainably, if I stopped looking at myself as simply a cog in a machine, but if I look at myself as a person with a whole variety of needs to be met, and in many cases, I am responsible for fulfilling some of these needs, so it requires boundaries. I'm not saying that I've mastered it. Very far from it. But that's kind of like the, the reflection of this this period for me of like, okay, there are certain things I simply need to say no to even if it's going to make people unhappy. And even if our discipline frowns, how would you mean, you're not reviewing all these articles? Oh, it was because I can't, you know, I want to, but if I want to go to bed at a decent hour, I can't, you know?

Ethel Tungohan:

Absolutely. And I think what's interesting is that these kinds of epiphanies were hard fought, right. Like, it's not like, you know, we came to them immediately. Like, we've had to live through the pandemic, we've had to live through turning 40, we've had to live through a lifetime of like, making mistakes and learning and recalibrating, right. Which I find really interesting as well. I feel like, if I may, like the way we're speaking now, Yolande, like right now is different from the person who I met in 2017. Like, there's a lot more, there's a lot more kind of, I don't know, there's a lot...for me as well, there's a lot more prioritization of our health and our individual needs. And I guess that's one of the things I wanted to ask as well. And one of my final questions is, if you could speak to yourself five years ago, what would you say to her?

Yolande Bouka:

I think if there's one thing that I would tell myself is pace yourself. Right? And that you are definitely more than enough. The academic job market, we say it once we're in it, because we see it from a position of relative rest, right? It's a crapshoot. Quite a bit of it is work. A whole lot of it is luck. A whole lot of it is timing. A lot of it is networks, right? But a lot of it is time and luck. Right, like a job...that a particular department will be interested in your type of research at this particular given time. And then for two years, there'll be no department who are particularly interested in your type of work, right. So it's not just the quality of your work, but a type of research at the department feels the need, and the politics of hiring committees, right, which will do that to another your you can talk about that in a different podcast. So the mistake that I think a lot of us make, particularly if we don't get jobs out of graduate school, or we decide to explore other options after graduate school, which I did, is to think that if we prove to people that we can do it all right, that we can do everything that we are worthy. That maybe somebody will look from the top of the ivory tower, and have grace and mercy and see our hand shoot up in the sky and say pick me pick me as I've fulfilled all the challenges, right? And I think I would have told me like, I would have told the younger me, first, take a really real hard look and say you know damned well that you're going to be okay. Even if you don't get that job. And to, you know, you don't need to get on the tippy toes and stretch real, real high to get picked. You know, because your work is great. What you do is good, your relationships in the discipline, you've built them not only to be about transaction, but also about deep felt relationships, and that is valuable. But whether or not you get that job is not predicated on how high you can get on your tippy toes, and how high and how long you can keep your hand outstretched. That's not how it works. And now that I've been hired, and I've sat on committees, and I'm realizing that there was very little that I knew about the business of academia, even though I was a PhD student forever, it took me seven years to finish my dissertation. I thought I understood. And oh, I was so misinformed. And maybe that's because of how I did my PhD. But I did not know how arbitrary a lot of this stuff is. And that's what I would tell myself, because then that would allow me to say, take a breath. You don't have to be everywhere. You know, five years ago, my kids were two, four, and six.

Ethel Tungohan:

And you were on the market.

Yolande Bouka:

And the type of sacrifices that I've made...yeah, right. And the time that I've missed, I'll never get that back. Right? And yeah, so somebody can say, well, she, it worked. Like she got the job. But I was like, yeah, but there's certin things that actually I did not need to do. But I thought that if I just pushed a little harder, a little bit longer, and, and, and made a few more sacrifices, these things ended up not being the deal breakers, in my way. It's other stuff. And a lot of it is timing.

Ethel Tungohan:

That's so trenchant and I am so appreciative of this advice, because I think a lot of us, a lot of our listeners are embedded in hustle culture, where they feel they have to do everything, absolutely everything they have to sacrifice,

Yolande Bouka:

I tell my graduate students to always have some sort of escape pod, you know, the escape pod in planning, and you should have that escape pod, even when you are in academia. And I think, because many of us don't have escape pods. The racialized women in particular, will continue to hustle through tenure. And then it will take a whole lot of mental re engineering to allow them to stop thinking about the hustle even once they got tenure. Right? Absolutely. So escape pod in academia, I know we're all in different disciplines. So it's not the same, the opportunities are not the same everywhere. But knowing at least for me personally, that I could solidly land on my feet, even if this path does not work, gives me comfort that I don't have to die for it. And I know I'm talking in like, very like melodramatic terms. But I think at the same time, the level of distress that we see people being in, even though we're in a very privileged position speaks to the type of transformation that are happening in this place.

Ethel Tungohan:

This is so beautiful, you know, we have so much wisdom from you, and I'm so appreciative of the time, and thank you so much. And I really, really appreciate the time.

Yolande Bouka:

Thank you so much for having me, I'm so glad.

Ethel Tungohan:

Auntie, how can people get in touch? Are you on social media?

Yolande Bouka:

I am on social media. I am on Twitter. And just because I'm old and tired at the moment, for some reason, I actually can't remember what my my handle is. I think it's just YolandeBouka, @YolandeBouka, and that I'm there. I'm often loud on social media. But I talk about different things about public health at the moment and then African Studies and African security and COVID vaccine and eco apartheid, vaccine apartheid and you know, gender and all that. But you know, I don't...you know, they tell you that if you want to go on social media, you need to have a particular brand. But I'm interested in different things. I talk about different things all the time.

Ethel Tungohan:

Follow Yolande because I love her feed. And can I just say that your feed gives me a lot of joy, like your, your, your tweets about your office meats made me laugh, right?

Yolande Bouka:

They're awesome, but I'm looking forward for them to go find their own office mates in the classroom and go back to that. It's very hard to focus when you have the little people in your office, trying to do their own schooling so we, but they're fun. I'm lucky that I have really fun. People on this ride, those kids are quite a bit of fun.

Ethel Tungohan:

While listening to Auntie Yolande, what stands out to me is that OUR health and OUR needs are important too! Asking for these to be met isn’t selfish! In fact, in doing so, we are modelling to the people in our lives, including our children, why it is important to advocate for ourselves. Academia expects so much from us - especially those of us who are women of colour - and tries to extract SO much from us in order to keep the institution floating. These expectations are magnified during COVID. But, as Auntie Yolande says - and as I paraphrase - I don’t want to die for the institution. And so maybe we should practice the politics of refusal… ..and this goes to all of you at different career stages. If you’re a grad student or you’re on the job market, remember what Auntie Yolande says: you ARE enough, and things that you THINK you MUST do in order to get a job may not actually be necessary. Ask your no circle if it is! For those of you who are tenure-track and are on maternity leave and feel that if you don’t work even just a little bit during leave, that you’ll look bad? Don’t let guilt rob you from your rest and your ability to settle into new parenthood. For those of you who are tenured and feel the weight of institutional expectations bogging you down? Hang on, look around you – are you and the other women/women of colour in your institution the only ones carrying this? Ask yourself, can other people shoulder the work? As I say this, I am making my own mental notes to re-centre myself and my health. It might seem like a simple - even obvious question - but trust me, it’s one that I need to keep relearning. And that’s Academic Aunties. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s series on pandemic parenting. Remember to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. And visit academicaunties.com to learn more about how you can support the podcast. You’ll also find show notes and transcripts for all of our episodes. Find us on Twitter at @AcademicAuntie or email us at podcast@academicaunties.com. We’d love to hear from you. Today’s episode of Academic Aunties was hosted by me, Dr. Ethel Tungohan. Our producers are myself, Wayne Chu and Dr. Nisha Nath. Tune in next time when we bring you more academic aunties. Until then, take care, be kind to yourself, and don’t be an asshole.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai