Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Keynoting with a Child #OER17

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This post started as an explanation of something for others and ended up as a self-reflection on the anxieties of a mom doing a keynote. Oh well. I warned u. Tl;dr I reaaaaaally wanna socialize at OER17 because I really wanna spend time with folks…but this “time” is heavily dependent on my child’s needs. 

I can’t remember who has this Twitter background pic, but I know there’s someone giving a conference talk while carrying a baby. That woman is not me ๐Ÿ™‚ I asked her once and she said that was her third child.

That woman also won’t be me ๐Ÿ™‚ I am fortunate that so far (this upcoming OER17 being the second conference I travel to with my child) I have babysitting for the keynote day, in the form of my husband ๐Ÿ™‚ inshallah 

Having said that… Traveling with husband and child has its downsides for me professionally. 

Day 0. First off,  we arrive the night before the conference inshallah and I hope to spend time with anyone who can be at the hotel that evening, but priority #1 has to be the kid who just got off a 5+-hour flight – getting her fed and in bed at a reasonable time. Scouting the area for a supermarket that stocks stuff she needs like milk and fruit and stuff. Hopefully she will be energized to meet my friends (she usually is) and inshallah also those who are close to me will be amenable to walking around and exploring the area or such. Maybe I will get lucky and someone will be up for an alcohol-free dinner somewhere nearby that makes food that my kid will eat and has good veggie/fish options for me.

On the conference morning itself. No wait.

I’m now remembering the night of my PhD viva. When my kid WOULD.NOT.SLEEP. It was amazing. Probably I had too much adrenaline and, as she was still nursing at the time, the breastmilk passed that adrenaline on. Or something. 

Hopefully this time she sleeps.

Day 1. Then hopefully she wakes up before I have to go. I’m the opening keynote inshallah and I need to leave the hotel by 9am to get to the venue by 9.20 or so to keynote at 10ish inshallah. So that’s like… I gotta be up by 7am? And i should probably be done with breakfast by 8.30 (hopefully meeting some folks at breakfast?). Hmm. Do I want my kid with me at breakfast and risk her spilling, spitting or otherwise spoiling my clothes? On the other hand, do I risk leaving while she’s asleep and waking up crying and being upset with me coz I am not there when she wakes up? Or if she’s not upset, how will I know she had a good breakfast. Ok. Relax. Breathe. She will be fine and have fun until I get back inshallah.

Hopefully throughout the event I get a chance to talk to people in between and during sessions. I don’t have a lot of free time (my bad for doing 2 sessions other than keynote, but the Virtually Connecting one was essential because I didn’t wanna focus my keynote on VC, and I felt VC deserved a UK presentation and OER17 is the perfect place).

I’m still unsure how to let people know they’re welcome to come and talk to me, and at the same time, I don’t know how i will get a chance to talk to all of them. I counted the number of people I know at the event and it’s at around 50 now. I counted them because I have gifts for them. And I know who is getting which gift. I am sure I will mess that up on the day. I’m SURE. Autumm: heeeeelp.

First evening, I can’t go on the OER17 social gathering (that’s the main reason for writing this post) because:

A. I have spent all day away from my kid and whatever energy I have left after 3 presentations and hopefully lots more.. She deserves

B. She has a bedtime and I wanna be there for it. Otherwise I would have left her back in Cairo

C. I wouldn’t go on the outing even if I didn’t have my child with me, because people drink in these outings, and much as I love karaoke, I really don’t like being around alcohol (partly for religious reasons but not all Muslims are like that).

Day 2. Tricky. The plan is for me to be at the conference from the morning up until 11.30 when I have to rush to a doctor’s appointment for my kid (we couldn’t book any other day). So I am missing most of the second day of the conference and some really interesting sessions ๐Ÿ™ unfortunately. I am free that evening but I don’t know where I will be exactly ahead of time. But maybe I can make plans for then. Wish I could go back to the conference, to be honest!

Beyond that. I am around for a few more days. And doing kiddie outings with my family. Folks welcome to join in with these. Just let me know.

Xo 

5 Comments

  1. Hi Maha,
    this falls into a stating the obvious/ try to help type of comment which I appreciate is not the point but …on a practical note it looks like there are a supermarkets (Tesco/ Sainsbury’s/ M&S/ Waitrose) close to most of the conference hotels (the five kings looks more isolated). Hope to be able to say hello to y’all. John

    • Hahahahahaha yeah we checked Google maps ๐Ÿ™‚ But I still think you’re very sweet to write this comment. Esp that the blogpost was written as a response to your tweet about the outing. You’re triggering a lot of what i am doing online today. What gives, John? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m not sure, from my point of view it is hitting the point of the course development cycle when twitter is both a lifeline and a good and bad distraction ๐Ÿ˜‰ . I’m happy to have prompted reflection in the midst of that.

        We debated coming along either as a family or me bringing my son but for various reasons it wasn’t going to work. Hopefully another time.

  2. You activated the Autumm signal? lol – I’m picturing a bat signal in the shape of an autumn leaf.

    I will help with gifts where I can of course but you know so many people that I don’t know. I don’t mind approaching people I don’t know to give them gifts though – I did that for you at dLRN remember? But I need you to point me in the right direction.

    I’m so excited for your keynote. To see you and be in the same physical space as you. To see Hoda and play peekaboo in the flesh – tho hiding will be harder than just moving off screen lol. I can’t believe that it is just a few weeks away.

    • Me neither! It seems so close and yet so far (like time isn’t moving fast enough… Can’t wait to meet but need more tike to work on the vconnecting presentation!)

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