Thursday, February 03, 2011

Do Over

It's a new month, my friends, which means I am turning over a new leaf, scraping together a new outlook, blinking toward a new perspective-- you get the idea. No more greasy, sweatpants-wearing wretch who huddles under blankets and says she is tired. No more delinquent blogger. No more burying the essays I am working on under piles of cast-off campus mail envelopes and spending my office hours prepping and re-prepping the same darn classes. No more!

I will blog more efficiently, write happily, and read the pile of hard-hitting social justice books stacked precariously on the corner of my desk.

But wait! There's more! I am going to remember my vitamins! Brush my hair! Go to the gym even when there is a pint of Ben and Jerry's peanut butter cup calling my name from the butt-print on my couch.

It could be the buzz from my one-and-only cup of coffee talking, or maybe it's that the roads are clear and we can leave our house today. Maybe it's the prospect of wearing my favorite flowered tunic (NOT mu-mu) and leggings with my favorite wide belt from H&M. Maybe it's my galvanizing hatred of Wisconsin's new governor or that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring.

Whatever it is, I am sick of moping around and having people tell me I look tired. I gave myself an island-pink pedicure yesterday, and right now, I am sitting at my kitchen table doing a little work (and blogging) before I head to campus. Sunlight pours through the slats of the blinds to stripe a crumb-covered countertop, and I had the most delicious pineapple for breakfast and my coffee is still warm in my favorite, cracked wedding-shower mug.

SInce Ben got his new job, I have been thinking a lot about work-life balance. I have actually been trying to wrap my mind around the balance metaphor for quite awhile because I think as a metaphor, it kind of sucks, implying that balance IS possible, that both sides can and should be equal. I thought maybe juggle was a better description for awhile because when Ben was working in the corporate world, it WAS a juggle-- lots of balls in the air, stuff getting dropped, new shit constantly being thrown into the mx, playing with fire, you know, the whole circus-y bit.

Lately, though, I have been realizing that it's all flow. My work and my home lives flow together, with little separation between them. I might be organizing my day to swing by the kids' school for teacher conferences or an opera. I might be sitting on the floor of their messy room answering emails with one hand and braiding Rapunzel's hair with the other. (Well, not really. Have you ever tried to braid one-handed?) After hours, Ben and I curl up on the couch with a plate of cheeses (we do live in Wisconsin) and our iPads, enjoying out our DVR stash and responding to student concerns. We rendezvous for lunch in my office, meet up at the gym with the kids after work, take turns working from home on kid duty and on campus in our quiet offices.

Watching the ebb and flow of these tasks, the way our roles blend together and swirl apart, realizing that I am both scholar and mother, teacher and wife, house-cleaner and course-organizer, that I can be all of these things at once and don't have to try to parcel my life into tidy bits has made me feel much more- dare I say- balanced.

I really do need to flow myself upstairs to get dressed and then ebb my way into the negative-10 -degree weather and swirl toward my slippery campus, so I'll leave you with pictures of our snownami (that I already posted on FB-- oops).


  1. Totally! Yesterday all three kids were in my bed watching WordGirl while I prepped my lecture (also in the bed) for today. Bliss!

  2. I am jealous. Not ready to go back to work yet, but definitely ready to do more work. Is a conundrum.

  3. Anonymous8:26 PM


    I think "flow" is possible with jobs in academia.

    I'm in academia and have fantastic time off, can work from home sometimes, accrue enough and can use sick leave, and get fantastic and cheap health insurance.

    My husband on the other hand works in the corporate setting (15 years in) and he gets very little paid time off, almost never uses sick leave, and the expectation from his employer is that a 40 hour work week should really be 45 or 50hours minimum, optimally more.

    There is no flow there!

    I was talking to a friend of mine in Madison who is a state worker and whose husband is a nurse and she agreed that, yes, the bulk of child care falls on the wife/mom even when both parents work. She said her husband can take only 1-2 days of sick leave per month and after that it gets documented.

    And I, 1-2 days a month? My husband takes 1-2 of sick leave A YEAR!

    No wonder I'm so tired. Any tips for convincing a husband to start flowing?? :)

  4. good luck perfecting your flow! I am also trying to get this balance or whatever back on track. I've improved some areas just to drop the ball in my blogging and writing and socializing areas. Constant change, constant adaptation, no more focusing on the one point when "balance" will be achieved and everything will be perfect. it is all fluid and moving forward.

    wow. Got a little hippy dippy there. maybe I should go buy some crystals