My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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Heads Up: Parenting Leave Coming Up

I’m a big believer in taking breaks from work, research, and my mediated life to travel, trek, and explore. Years ago, I implemented email sabbaticals to give myself space to take time off without being overwhelmed by the ongoing flow of emails and expectations. I documented the process because too many people assumed that I just disappeared, unannounced, leaving my colleagues and friends in a lurch. Actually, email sabbaticals are a process because they have stages where I make sure that everyone who depends on me is taken care of before I disappear into the void. I typically announce them to colleagues 3-6 months ahead of time and give a public warning 6 weeks ahead of time. And then I have a process upon return where I check in with folks. When I disappear, my goal is to never leave people that depend on me faltering. This isn’t a perfect process, but I’ve found that letting people know well ahead of time guarantees that I finish out projects and account for commitments before taking time off without the lingering stress of unfinished business.

Normally, when I plan on taking a massive break, I know the dates well ahead of time and can help everyone plan and prepare. I’m now facing a different dilemma. I know that sometime in the next n weeks, I’m going to take some serious time off. The problem is that I’m not quite sure exactly when that will occur nor am I exactly sure how long I will be gone or how much I will want to be off email. Y’see, rather than taking a vacation this summer, I’m planning on having a baby.

As folks who have seen me in recent months know, I’m pregnant, due August 3. I look pretty silly, particularly given that I’m a klutz and managed to obtain a lisfranc injury on top of my bulging belly which means that I look like a whale on a scooter. But I’m still chugging along, finishing out writing projects (the book is in copyediting right now!) and starting new ones (nom nom trouble). I’m planning on taking parental leave when the kiddo arrives, but I’m not yet sure how long I’ll want to be focused solely on being a parent. Given my love of research, I expect that I’ll ease back in to email and projects throughout the fall. And I plan to start traveling again with a spectacular book tour when the book launches in early 2014. But I also know that I’m entering a world of uncertainty.

I don’t intend to detail my life as a mother on this blog because, frankly, I don’t want to. But I do want to give y’all a heads up that I intend to disappear for a bit when the time comes. So if there are things you need from me this summer or early fall, perhaps ping me sooner rather than later. And please understand that when I do get to finally meet the kiddo, I will probably be pretty inattentive to email and the internets for a while. I suspect that this will look and feel differently than my email sabbaticals, but I still don’t want to leave people in a lurch. So I wanted to give y’all a heads up.

A new adventure awaits!  Thanks for your patience!

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9 comments to Heads Up: Parenting Leave Coming Up

  • danah! I’m so happy for you. My wife and I had a baby about 7 months ago and it’s been an amazing experience. I think you’ll be a great mom.

  • Congratulations! Take time before, too!

    I always love to hear that people who I admire are becoming mothers.

    That is one lucky baby.

    Wishing you all the best in the world.

  • Margaret

    Congrats, danah! You seem to be reasonably well-informed about the unknownedness of becoming a new parent. So much will depend on things you can’t plan for. (For example, all that travel you have planned? Might be fine and easy. Might be impossible. Just so you know.) Stay flexible. Stay creative. And enjoy your ability to sleep when you want while you still can!

    P.S. If you find time for it, it would be wonderful if you could write up a detailed How To for email sabbaticals. (Unless you already have and I’ve missed it.)

  • “I don’t intend to detail my life as a mother on this blog because, frankly, I don’t want to.”

    Thanks tor that…I know many people sprogging and posting gooey eyed posts about their precious…gets rather tiring as one baby looks like another ‘special snowflake’ so it’s refreshing to hear someone saying no to all that.

  • Kris K.

    Congratulations! Being a mom is a wonderful and very challenging experience but it is fun also at times. Yeah, its one of a lifetime adventure, wishing you all the best and good luck!

  • IsaacB2

    Mazal tov, and good luck!

  • Bill

    Dear danah,

    Congratulations! Wishing you a healthy child and an easy delivery. Please take the time you need to enjoy your newest family member. They grow oh so quickly, and you’ll wonder where the years went.

    Best regards,
    Bill

  • Noa

    Dear danah,
    I am following you (just on the net – nothing creepy…) for several year now.
    You are a great inspiration for me.
    Good luck
    kids rocks! (I have 3…)

    Best,
    Noa from Israel

  • Mark

    Congratulations, danah! What great and exciting news. I wish you a safe and healthy completion of your pregnancy, an easy and uncomplicated delivery, and a healthy, whole, and happy babe. I’m going through this for a second family (my first-family kids are now adults), with a new partner who is pregnant for the first time at mid-life. A wonderful time and anticipation for us as it must be for you. Wishing you the very best for your impending family!

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