Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Semester; New Problems

It turns out that last semester, the one where I was always bursting onto campus just minutes before my class and spent ZERO time with my writing projects?

Was the one, single semester of my entire working life that I would get to spend totally unencumbered by childcare and family responsibilities.  I had all the kids in school!  I had a partner who was always at home when I was at work!  I even had the flexibility to teach a night class!

And because I thought it was the beginning of a whole new era, I wasted all of that luxurious time.  Like when our online adjunct college used to give us EACH five sections a term and we basically flushed money down the toilet.

Last week, Ben accepted a new job.  A new job outside the academy.  A new job that he cannot work from home.  So guess who's back to being the DEFAULT PARENT?


Now let me just say, it is an AMAZING job and one he is so, so, so excited about and knew he had to accept.  I knew he had to accept it, too. Wanted him to-- was over the moon when he called with the news, etc. And I am thrilled for him and for an exciting and fulfilling path rolling out in front of him.  So keep that in mind when you read the rest of this whine.

I am also so freaked out for me.  For my two late nights a week that can't be rescheduled and the childcare we absolutely do not have.  For the three impossibly early mornings I have each week that were going to be WAY EASIER with a partner at home to see the kids off to school and clean up the hurricane they leave behind each morning.  Or at least supervise them partially while working from bed so I could get a head start on the hurricane.

Ben got his teaching job when Cooper was a baby, so I don't know what it is like to be a working mom of so many kids with a partner who keeps normal business hours.  I suspect it sucks.

It's true that Ben has worked incredibly long hours, especially since he became department chair.  Almost every night, he worked well past when the kids went to bed, and he started his day working from his bed while the crazy school rush raged around him.  It's also true, though, that his time is completely his own. He decides when to go to campus; when to schedule meetings; which meetings he can Skype into while on dad duty; which classes he wants to teach; if he wants to teach in the classroom or online.  My two late days-- both of which are built into the department time table and have been on my calendar since I was a grad student in 2003-- have never been an issue.  When Harry and Jack were tiny, we had a nanny.  Then they went to a preschool that let them stay late 2 days a week when Ben worked at Study Blue.  And then, since the end of 2010, Ben has been home with them on those nights.  AND WHAT DO WE DO NOOOOOOOW??  In the middle of a school year when on-site wrap around care is full, and their big brother has a different dismissal time??

(We have a plan and another one for next semester, etc, but I thought the days of stressing about where the kids would be when I was working were over, and I wasn't even going to miss them.)

What does this mean about the fifth baby I still dream about even though my old lady body appears to be rebelling?

For the 2-week summer institute I am directing in another state this summer?

For the summer school class I will be teaching online with no grown up to man the children at least a few hours a week?


But!  You guys!  I am not a terrible person.  I am absolutely happy about this opportunity and ready to be a great partner, and even though I am still not someone who irons, I can totally be the person who picks up the dry cleaning and remembers to put Downy Wrinkle Releaser on the Target drive up order.  That's for real and also, I think, a metaphor.

More about the new gig soon, and you KNOW there will be more about my selfish fears because you know why?  This is my blog.

If you work and your partner does, too, HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT ALL?

I mean, there's a reason we could both be PTO president at the kids' school in consecutive terms.  FLEXIBILITY.  How do we cope without it?  I am really asking-- gimmee your best tips.

On an unrelated note, Dorothy is into doing her own makeup, and I am here for that.


  1. I feel like daily blogging would really help your schedule 😂 and basically I got used to reading everyday and I (totally bizarrely since I don’t know you at all, but have been reading your blog -one of two I still read- faithfully since H was a baby) worry about you when you don’t post 🤣 Other than that I am no help as I’ve been a SAHM who homeschools since my oldest was born.

  2. Anonymous9:11 AM

    A few little thoughts. You have to decide what to let go. There's no possible way you can do everything, so maybe the housework needs to get outsourced, or you need to lower your standards. Also get the kids on a chore schedule. Finally, I think for me it was a case of remembering the long range perspective: this sucks now, but will be worth it when we're through it. The alternative is for you to scale back, which will hurt you in the long term.

  3. So we’re blessed right now with really flexible schedules, but it hasn’t always been that way. I would echo what Anonymous said. You guys do A LOT and there may be areas where you can reprioritize. Also, let people help! When we’re in a crunch (when I’m away for instance) I’m so grateful for the community we’ve built that’s willing to drop a kid off or pick a kid up.

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  5. Anonymous2:01 PM

    We hired a reliable neighborhood high schooler to babysit on two afternoons when there was a gap in an on-site parent's presence. In summer, the same high-schooler was hired to be an extra set of eyes and hands at the pool.

    A reader in California!