Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Still here, sort of

I'm still here, and I often think about posting.  I just rarely get around to it.  I'm not 100% sure why.  Much of my energy is funneled elsewhere.  I'm currently not doing a lot of my own writing.  I'm wrapped up in grading, in teaching, in doing some service work.  When I get home, I am involved in other things, namely with mothering and trying to find time to have a conversation with Archer.  Life is crazy, but it is for everyone, isn't it?  I'm no longer as certain as I once was what will become of this space.  I don't want to be a blogger who only blogs occasionally.  I find value in writing more than just sporadically.  That said, I now communicate with those I've met through this blog in other ways, so I no longer see this blog as my only way to communicate with those people, a few of whom have become very important to me.  I may be back, and I may not.  I just don't know yet.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Having a dog . . .

is nothing like have a baby.  Nothing.  I'm just saying.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A belated happy birthday

On October 20th, this guy
turned 7.  I am so thankful to be his mother.  Wild Man is kind, thoughtful, and loving.  His generosity of spirit pushes me to be a better mother and a better person.

It's been a crappy week . . .

I'm not prepared to say more than that, but I felt the need to acknowledge publicly that it has been a really crappy seven days.  I'm not optimistic that the next seven will get much better.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saying no

I've gotten really good at saying no.  I often say no--to my children, to my students, to my colleagues.  You see, I have to say no.  My life is structured in such a way that if I don't say no things don't get done.  I just said no to a colleague, a colleague whom I say no to quite frequently.  This colleague needs me to host a dinner for a visiting speaker as the colleague has a conflict.  S/he can't be two places at once, so s/he asked me if I'd relieve hir of one responsibility.  I said no.  It's an evening event, and given that I teach on Tuesday evening and that I'm guest lecturing for this colleague on Wednesday evening I have no desire to attend another evening event this week.  I just don't.  And I said as much.  My colleague was upset, and I do understand that.  But I can't do it.  More importantly, I don't want to do it.  I do the amount of service required of me, and I do it well.  I'm not up for taking on anything else.  I don't much care if I get the reputation as the person who says no.  I don't much care if people think I use my kids as a reason to not attend evening events.  I've learned the hard way that being nice won't get me very far at CU Land.  And I'm not going to feel bad or feel guilty for saying no.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I'm also learning that my new normal means that I operate with about 6 hours of sleep a night.  This is not a good thing, but it is just how things are working out right now.

Finding my groove

I am slowly finding my groove.  I'm slowly figuring out what it means to be a working mother of three.  I'm slowly figuring out what things I can let go of and which things have to be done.  It's been a rough few weeks, but now that we have a schedule, now that I know what to expect from most days, I feel like we're getting through the struggle.  I think we're all figuring out what normal is for us now.  That's kind of a good feeling.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The world is made for big breasted women . . .

I am a small breasted woman.  In fact, I only have cleavage when I'm pregnant or first breast feeding.  I've been nursing George for well over a year now, so my breasts are back to their normal size.  I'm at the point where I no longer need breast pads, nor does my breast size fluctuate throughout the day.  George generally only nurses in the evening and perhaps once during the night, so I'm not producing a lot of milk.  Given that, I'm ready to stop wearing nursing bras, even if I'm not ready to wean him yet.  I last bought bras when I was pregnant, so I don't have any bras that fit.  Friday I went shopping.  My demands are pretty simple.  I wanted to buy three or four bras, in my size, that will give me some lift and a bit of coverage.  In all honesty, I want bras that prevent my students and my colleagues from seeing my nipples.  In my mind, that seems like a fairly simple desire.

As I tried bras on, it became clear that I am now almost a full cup size smaller than I was before I started nursing George.  (As an aside that means I've lost almost two cup sizes since Wild Man was born).  I now wear a Double A, for those of you who are interested.  I quickly discovered that I could buy any bra I wanted in any size from 34B to 42DD.  But the Double A is elusive.  The sales person at one lingerie store told me it's easier to go to a specialty store to buy bras in Es, Fs, or Gs (for which I am well aware women have to pay exorbitant prices) than it is to buy Double As.  I was advised to order them online.  But I want to try them on first, I explained.  She suggested I go to the girls' department.  Needless I left the store.

*And before anyone suggests it, I did try on my "sister size," which is apparently a size smaller in width, but a cup larger.  That size didn't fit very well.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

An Event

This weekend we had our children baptized.  The ceremony was for all three of them, which made it both chaotic and incredibly special.  I'm still trying to process everything associated with the baptism, including our decision to do it as well as my reaction to it.  I think I'll be writing about this again.  For now I want to say that I am generally fairly ambivalent about religious ceremonies.  For reasons I don't completely understand I was deeply touched by this ceremony, both by the number of friends and family who attended the ceremony and by the reaction of our church community.  I didn't expect to feel anything more than moderately happy that we'd formally introduced our family to the church we've joined.  It was more than that, though.  I can't put it into words just yet, but it was important and good and uplifting.  I went to bed on Sunday feeling as though we'd done something really significant for our children.  What that is remains to be seen, but I'm really happy that we made the decision to have them baptized.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Something new

I just volunteered to teach Church School two Sundays this fall, which is something I never thought I would do.  I do have an ulterior motive.  Bear refuses to go to Church School, preferring to sit with Archer and I and "listen" to the service.  I volunteered to teach his age group in the hopes of encouraging him to participate in the activities for the children. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting there

I am getting there.  This schedule is starting to feel routine.  I'm starting to adjust to our new normal, as it were.  We're also starting to figure out how this schedule is affecting each of us.

For example, Bear has adjusted to JK wonderfully; in fact, his teacher told me that he has adjusted better than some of the kids who are now in SK.  He is, however, a crabby, cranky mess the first 45 minutes he is home from school.  This can wreak havoc on the afternoon.  We're starting to figure out, though, that he needs some time to decompress.  So, we've been letting him have some quiet time to himself when he first gets home.  Some days he colors, some days he paints, some days he looks at books by himself.  After about 30 minutes, he is back to his usual happy self. 

As for me, I am relying a lot on our schedule.  I work when the boys are at school.  I focus on being with them when we're home together.  Archer and I are squeezing in moments together in between everything.  I won't lie; it's been tough.  It's chaotic, and the evenings and afternoons are often frenetic.  We get home, we unpack, we play for a while, then we do homework, we practice music, and we make dinner.  After dinner we have bath, storytime, and bed.  Archer and I often manage to squeeze in a few moments of work after all three boys are asleep, or we just hang out together before falling asleep and starting all over again. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

No, we don't . . .

have after school care, I have said at least 200 times since school began.  And then I think to myself, "Not that it is any of your damn business."  Inevitably, I get a look of astonishment, followed by, "Oh, okay, I guess we'll have to make meetings work around that schedule."  And I respond, "Yes, I guess we will, or else I'll just have to miss the meeting."

So no, we don't have after school care for Wild Man and Bear.  Actually, we only have it two days a week.  Those two days a former student of mine brings them home from school and stays with them until we get home.  Mondays I work from home, so Archer gets to stay a bit later at his office.  Fridays Archer works from home, so I get to stay a bit later at my office.  We did this for several reasons.  First, we're paying for full-time childcare for George.  Adding in the cost of after school care for Wild Man and Bear was more than our budget could take, or more accurately, it was more than we were willing for our budget to take.  Second, we're in the habit of picking our children up by 4:15 or 4:30, which means we'd be paying roughly $280 per child per month (for a total of $560 per month) for about forty-five minutes of care per day.  That didn't make sense.  This is a schedule/arrangement that works for us.  And if one more person asks me about it, I am likely to lose my cool.

As an aside, my colleagues who don't have children (or who have grown children) seem to get this decision.  It's the colleagues who have children the same age as Wild Man and Bear who are the most judgmental.  I am struggling to understand that.

Monday, September 16, 2013

One day at a time

As I've been writing, I am having a hard time transitioning back to full time work.  In some ways, it seems odd for me to write that.  I never stopped working.  While on mat leave with George, I wrote 2 conference papers, attended 2 conferences, wrote an essay for an anthology, co-edited said anthology, and co-wrote introduction for said anthology.  I submitted the anthology to a publisher, along with two colleagues, and said anthology is now under contract with a reputable academic press.  I devised a project and wrote a grant for said project, which was funded.  I did a lot while I was on mat leave.  But I wasn't teaching.  I wasn't going to meetings, which seem endless this time of year.  I wasn't answering student emails.  I wasn't doing a lot of things that I'm doing now.  I feel like there isn't enough time in the day to be the kind of academic, the kind of mother, and the kind of partner to Archer that I want to be. 

Here is where I'm supposed to write something pithy about finding balance.  Well, I happen to think balance is bullshit.  I do.  It is impossible to achieve any sort of balance.  Things fall through the cracks.  It just happens.  I do--Archer and I do the best we can.  We try to make sure we talk to each other for 5 minutes a day.  We try to find 5 minutes a day for each kid.  We try not to go crazy because the house is a wreck.  We try to focus on the fact that we're doing well in our jobs and that our kids are happy and healthy.  I, especially, try to focus on that.  I'm still struggling.  I expect I will continue to struggle until this routine feels normal, whatever that means.  In the mean time, I'm not worried about balance.  I'm taking things one day at a time.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My First Day

My first day of class was this week.  I am happy to say it went well.  I made a few mistakes--you know, unnoticed typos on syllabi--but overall, it went well.  I even managed to get my students talking, which was exciting.  I enjoy teaching, and I'm happy in the classroom.  It felt good to get back to doing something I love.  I didn't, however, get home until 7 pm (I teach a late afternoon class), which is the boys' bedtime.  I got about 15 minutes with my children in a 20 hour period, which was hard.  They didn't seem to mind, but I did.  Given my teaching schedule there isn't much I can do about that.  I have, however, already requested a different schedule for next year.  I can--and will--be a team player and will happily teach the occasional late-afternoon or evening class, but I won't do it when my kids are this little.  I just won't.  People can judge me all they want to, as I'm sure they will, but I won't do it.

Personal, Professional

I am officially back at work, as I've written about extensively.  I am also officially back in the classroom.  This has had profound affects on me personally and professionally.

Professionally, I'm happy.  I have taught this week (for the first time in 16 months), and I enjoyed it.  I love teaching, and I know I'm good at it.  I like getting students interested, and I am able to get them to respond to things they may not otherwise respond to.  I am happy with the content of my classes, and I can already tell that most of my students are genuinely interested in the material and will be open to discussion.  I am also getting research and writing done, which makes me really happy.  It's slow, as writing often is, but it's happening.

Personally, I'm struggling a bit.  George  started child care full time last week; he now goes every weekday.  He enjoys it, and he is doing well in his class.  I found it really hard not to have a great deal of one on one time with him, though.  I had to sneak in quiet minutes with each of the boys, actually, and that was hard to do.  I managed, but given the nature of our weekly schedule, I don't get big chunks of time with each of them as I did while I was on leave.  I am finding the transition of the full-time work groove to be more difficult than I anticipated.  I've cried every day this week about how the days have gone from fairly relaxed with lots of time to get necessary tasks accomplished to schedule driven.  It's more difficult than I anticipated.  I am, however, following the advice of a dear friend and giving it time.  I'm trying to keep my expectations realistic and to not judge myself for being upset.  I'm not so good at either of those things.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Today marks the first day of what will be a chaotic year for us.  With all three boys in different schools, Archer and I will be constantly checking our calendars and communicating about who is getting which child when.  We've worked out a schedule, but we're both sacrificing quite a bit of time at the office to forgo the cost of after school care for Bear and Wild Man.  We'll both end up doing a lot of class prep after the boys are asleep, and we'll likely have to find some time on the weekends.  We'll manage though, and we're both happy with our decision.

First Day, Part 2

This morning Archer and I took Bear to his first day of Junior Kindergarten.  He was nervous, so nervous that he refused to look at the camera when we tried to take a picture of him in his first day outfit.  He didn't, however, cry.  He was quiet and a bit withdrawn, but he did what we asked him.  He put his backpack where his teacher told him, and he stood in line quietly.  He did give us each about 5 hugs and kisses, but there was no drama.  I won't go so far as to say he was happy, but he was prepared.  He knew what was coming, and he did what we needed him to do without complaint.  I managed to not cry in front of him (thank goodness for sunglasses!). 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


I rarely complain about students en masse.  I generally like students, and I like my job a lot.  I do complain about specific students (who doesn't?), on occasion, and I most certainly complain about grading.  I feel it necessary to include this preface to what is about to follow.

Students have returned to CU this week, even though classes don't start till next week.  The freshman are going through orientation and lots of other students are here to get prepared for class.  That's fine.  They do belong here, after all.  I can deal with their noise, and I can deal with the traffic and congestion on campus that they cause.  I cannot, however, deal with their mess. 

I was on campus a lot this summer, and my oldest sons were in 4 weeks of camps run on the university.  I was in the main student building on campus every single day I was on campus.  I used the bathroom that approximately 1,000 4-12 year olds used twice a day.  The bathroom was also reasonably clean.  The toilets were always flushed.  The toilet paper was always thrown away, as were the paper towels.  The sinks were reasonably clean.  I just used the exact same bathroom after students have been in the same building for less than half a day.  It was disgusting.  Seriously.  Paper towels and toilet paper everyone.  Toilets unflushed, and one sink clogged.  I will stop complaining now.

First Day of School, Part 1

Today is Wild Man's first day of Grade 2 (as we say in CU Land).  He happily rode the bus, and he informed Archer and me that we didn't need to meet him at school as we did last year.  He said, "I know what to do now, Mom.  Don't worry."  But I do worry.  Even as I worry, I must acknowledge that he is growing into a thoughtful, sensitive child.  He has his moments, to be sure, but most of the time, he shows us that he is maturing and growing up.  I'm really proud of the person he's becoming.  While I will always love him, I genuinely like him as a person.

Tomorrow Bear starts Junior Kindergarten.  This morning, he is hanging out in my office, coloring, while I try to get some work done.  We're going to lunch later, and then we may do something special just the two of us.  I imagine that I'll be writing a much different post tomorrow, one in which I describe how Bear refused to go to his teacher and how I sobbed when I had to leave him.  For now, I'll enjoy listening to his chatter while I finish my syllabi.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Remembering . . .

I took this picture about a month ago, while we were in the midst of our summer travels.  Here, Bear and Wild Man are trying to hold on to George long enough for me to snap a picture of the three of them.  They are also trying to sing "Happy Birthday" to George, who has no interest in sitting still or being sung to.  This image captures not just a moment, but a feeling that I want to hold on to.  George's exuberance at being able to crawl.  Bear and Wild Man's intense love for their younger brother.  The three of them together, which is how they are most often.  Archer was standing behind me, singing and laughing, so although he's not in the image, I know he was participating.  This is my family, and I love them.


I'm updating some things around here.  That is all.

Monday, August 19, 2013


In two weeks, Wild Man and Bear start school, Wild Man as a second grader and Bear as a Junior Kindergartener.  That week George starts childcare full time, and my time as a stay-at-home mom officially ends (although it technically ended in May when my mat leave ended, George has only been in childcare part time, making me feel like I am still a stay-at-home mom in some ways).  I'm feeling really conflicted about these impending changes. 

On one level, I'm thoroughly enjoying watching my children flourish.  Bear, in particular, has grown a lot this summer.  In spite of some initial bumps, he has thrived in day camp.  He has become much more independent, and Archer and I are both confident he will excel at kindergarten.  Wild Man has proven to us that he is becoming a mature, responsible child.  He has taken to the role of older sibling without hesitation, and he is increasingly asking for more responsibility.  He loves looking out for his brothers (as much as he loves tormenting them, as is an older sibling's right, I suppose), and they have come to depend on him a great deal.  George is settling into child care, and while he may be the most serious and observant of our children, he is slowly claiming a place for himself amongst the babies in his group.  I'm proud of how they have adapted and their willingness to try to things.  I think this speaks to mine and Archer's ability to instill confidence in them.

On another level, I'm sad that I won't be working from home most days, that I will be back to "balancing" work and home life.  I'm sad that I can't just hang out at the park all day if I want to.  I realize this will change.  I know myself well enough to know that by next week I will be excited for the start of the school year, that I will be energized about my courses and new projects.  But today, and likely for the next few days, I just want to hunker down with my boys and squeeze the last few moments out of the summer.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Belated Birthday to George!

A few weeks ago this thing happened, George turned 1.  We were traveling, so I wasn't able to document it here.  We did, however, celebrate.  We had a family party in our hometown with some really dear friends whom we don't get to see often.  George was really excited for homemade cake and cookies (made by his godmother), but he didn't really care about his birthday.  You see, babies aren't in to birthdays.  Parents, siblings, and grandparents are into birthdays.  I firmly believe that we celebrate first birthdays for the adults, not for the baby.  Archer and I celebrated surviving our first year as the parents of three energetic boys, and we celebrated the funny, thoughtful, kissable little guy who is George.  We're still figuring out who he is, but we're having a lot of fun watching him come into his own.

Monday, August 12, 2013


My parents are fairly young, in their early sixties.  My mother, aside from having bi-polar II, is in fairly good health.  My father is in good health as well, but he has some physical problems that require he use a leg brace, a back brace, and a walker.  Getting around is not easy for my dad.  He uses a shower chair, an elevated toilet seat, and other aids that make life easier for him, at least in their house.  His ability to get around is so limited that he rarely leaves the house.  My parents go to dinner once a week, and they run errands--to the grocery store (where he uses a motorized cart), the drug store, and places like that.  He often goes days without leaving the house, and travel is virtually impossible (well, it isn't, actually, but as he prefers not to use his insurance to get items that would make travel infinitely easier, travel is hard).  That said, my dad's mind is fully functioning.  He reads a lot (although stuff I think is terrible!), he watches the news constantly, and he plays several computer games meant to keep his mind active.  His memory is great, and he keeps track of all his appointments as well as my mom's without a problem.  My mom, on the other hand, forgets a lot.  She claims this is due to her meds, and I think she is right, at least partly.  Lately though, it has become very apparent that she is forgetting a lot, things that I think she should remember, like my sons' ages and their grades, the ages of her other grandchildren, that her father died.  I've tried to talk to my father about my mother's memory loss, but he brushes me off, assuring me she's fine.  I don't think she is though.  I will see her later this month, and I will be observing very closely the sorts of things she forgets.  I'm not sure what I will say or do, but I will be paying very close attention

*I started this post weeks ago, and I just finished it. I have since seen my mother, and my concerns were founded.  I've arranged an appointment for her with her doctor and have scheduled a conference call with her doctor.

Getting back into the groove

You may have noticed that I've been away, although maybe you didn't.  I'm back now.  Back in CU Land, back in the space.  I'm not sure what that means, but I think I'll be showing up here, at least sometimes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Be respectful, an open letter

Dear Family members, 
Please take the time to be respectful of me and my views on social media.  I mean, really, we're family members.  We used to play together, and we recently mourned our grandfather's death together.  Yes, we disagree on everything, except that we actually do like each other.  So please, please, please don't call me stupid or ignorant or an f*ing liberal.  I don't call you any of those things.  I may want to, but I refrain from doing so.  I don't even call people I don't know those things, so I most certainly call someone I love those things.  Definitely not in a public forum.  If you don't like what I post, don't respond.  You'll notice that I rarely respond to anything political you post.  I think it makes for more friendly family gatherings if we stick to commenting on pictures of our children or posts about gardening.  So be kind and respectful.


*I've finally gotten smart and started excluding some people from seeing certain posts.  Really, I don't need the stress.

I'm just tired

I'm just tired and discouraged.  I'm tired and discouraged by young women who say they don't want to call themselves feminists because feminists aren't kind.  I'm tired and discouraged by people who applaud the justice system, claiming that there is no such thing as institutionalized racism.  I'm tired and discouraged by people who say things like, "Slavery ended over 100 years ago; why can't we just move on?"  I'm tired and discouraged by people who don't recognize their own privilege.  I'm tired and discouraged by people who use liberal and progressive like four-letter words (for the record I don't use conservative like a four-letter word, although I might use Tea-partier as a four-letter word).  I'm tired and discouraged by people who are wholly unaware of their own hypocrisy (I am a hypocrite, and I struggle every day not to be one).  I'm just tired and discouraged.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Did I mention. . .

that Yetta is dating.  Yes, and they are talking about getting married.  Archer and I are still trying to get a hold of that one.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

An Academic and a Mother of Three

A few months ago I wrote the following sentence: " I don't feel as though people question my abilities as an academic because I'm a mother, or at least I don't feel as though most of my colleagues do."  It was part of a post titled Academic Mothering

I'm beginning to change the opinion I expressed in the above sentence.  Now that I'm back in my office and attending meetings and doing academic work where people can see me doing it, I'm hearing, "Wow, you're back!  You're working!  How are you doing that with three kids?"  I'm also hearing, "Oh, I didn't know you were back yet. I don't know how you do it.  I can't even keep up with myself and my research.  Three kids!  Wow."

Maybe I'm starting to read too much into these comments, but here's the thing, comments like these bother me.  Perhaps they are meant to be complimentary.  I try to take them that way.  But, Archer never hears comments like these.  Never.  In fact, when he tells people he meets at CU that he has three children, he is routinely asked if his wife stays home.  The moment they learn I too am an academic who works at CU they typically say something like, "Wow!  How does she make that happen?"  Apparently I'm not supposed to be an academic and have three children.

*I would like to say that no one in my department has made any of these comments, but lots of people in my faculty have.

A rough morning

Today Wild Man and Bear started the first in a series of day camps.  Wild Man was excited.  He anticipated seeing old friends (he went to the same program last year), and he was really excited to make new friends.  He happily put his lunch box in his back pack, let me put sunscreen on him, and climbed into the car.  Bear, well, Bear was more hesitant.  You see, to prepare him for JK, Archer and I decided to take him out of daycare (the same daycare he's been attending since he was 6 months old) and send him to day camp with Wild Man.  We've been talking about this with him for months, and some days he is really excited. Other days, not so much. 

Yesterday, Bear helped me label all his things, and he told me what he wanted in his lunch box.  We made a special trip to the store so he could pick out containers that he can open easily.  We discussed how he needed to make all his food last for both lunch and afternoon snack.  Wild Man assured Bear that he would help him.  We talked about how all the kids get to go swimming in the afternoon, and I showed him where I put his towel and suit.  He said he didn't want to go swimming, and Archer assured him that was okay.  I said, we'll tell your camp teacher.  You can sit out and watch the other kids till you're more comfortable.  He seemed okay with that.  In fact, he seemed okay until we got to camp.  Wild Man, who is our social guy, quickly found three kids he knew, and he found a spot where he could sit with Bear.  He encouraged Bear to sit beside him, and he even offered to hold his hand.  Bear, however, was having none of it.  I literally had to peel him off of me.  I took him to a quiet spot and reminded him that his teachers have my phone number and his dad's.  I also reminded him that we're only 5 minutes away (the day camps are held on CU's campus) and that his dad was going to have lunch with them today.  He told me that he didn't want to go and refused to let go of me.  Finally, one of the teachers, a very nice young man, came over and introduced himself to Bear.  He told Bear how much fun they were going to have, and then he took Bear from me, who started crying at that point.  I hugged him one more time, and then Archer and I left.  As we drove away, we saw Bear sitting in his teacher's lap trying not to cry, while Wild Man rubbed his back. 

I'm struggling to get any work done this morning as I keep thinking about Bear.  He does not handle new situations well, which is precisely why we wanted him to go to camp to prepare for JK. I hope that the day improves for him, and that he grows to like camp.  I'm worrying about next Monday because the boys are in different programs starting next week.  Really, I just want to go find my kid and hug him.  I really hate it when I know I've made the right decision for my child, but that decision makes my child upset.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A difference of opinion

In light of my earlier post, I want to pose a question about the pro-life/pro-choice debate.  I want to begin by saying that I am not anti-live, although I am pro-choice.  I hate this rhetorical distinction.  I mean, I'm against the death penalty, but I am for a woman's right to govern her own body. I digress.

Here is my question: why is it that most members of certain political party are pro-life, yet they often do not support programs (like Head Start, Welfare, Medicaid, etc.) which would improve the quality of life for the babies they so desperately want to be born?  As a good, good friend of mine once said, "Many Republicans care about babies, until they're born." 

I have a new hero today, and her name is. . .

Wendy Davis.  I am in awe of what this woman did last night.  And I'm even more in awe that the American people were actually paying attention.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Bear turned 4 this past weekend.  I am equally sad and elated that he is growing up.


I've been having a rough few weeks.  One minute I'm fine, the next I want to cry.  Most moments I manage to keep it together, but there have been a few days in which I've just cried for a while.  I am, as I've blogged before, a crier, but it isn't like me to sob for an entire morning.  Archer asked me how I was doing yesterday, and I said, I feel like I'm having good days and bad days.  He asked if he could make an observation, and I said yes.  He said that my cycles are more regular following George's birth than following Wild Man's and Bear's.  He has noticed that I am more uneven than usual about a week before my period starts and at least three days into my period.  I immediately knew he was right, and now I'm trying to keep track of my cycles.  Prior to having Wild Man, I was on the pill, and I was also on the pill immediately following his birth as well as Bear's.  While I primarily took the pill for birth control, I found that it helped regulate the hormonal shifts I seem to be experiencing lately.  I told Archer I may go back on it for that reason, but then I don't want to do that.  So I started doing some research.  Now I wonder if I don't have a late-onset PPD.  I know that mothers can experience PPD up to a year following the birth of a child, and I'm still within that time frame for George's birth.  But honestly, all the descriptions are so different.  Do I have the Baby Blues (a term I hate, by the way, as it is just so dismissive) or more severe depression?  Or am I just tired and struggling to compensate for a lack of sleep?  Most of the time, I feel like myself.  I feel good.  But several times a week I have an urge to just cry.  But then, so do most mothers I know.  I mean, parenting is a hard, hard job.  It is exhausting and draining, and it can be demoralizing.  It's full of high-highs and low-lows.  Mothering is an emotional roller coaster in and of itself.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


As I've written, George is now in childcare three days a week.  This has been a hard transition for both he and I.  So hard, in fact, that Archer was surprised.  After all, I have transitioned two other children into childcare, both of whom flourished with their respective caregivers.  He was not prepared for me to cry every day we dropped George off during his first month in care.  As I told him, though, I had to put Wild Man into childcare when he was 3 1/2 months old.  I had to go back to teaching and finish my dissertation.  I was able to work out a part-time schedule for him, but he had to go into childcare.  With Bear, I was back in the classroom when he was 10 weeks old.  Archer was able to take 6 months of family leave, but by the time we put Bear in childcare, I was accustomed to leaving him for most of the day.  George, however, had never spent more than 4 hours away from me, and only then a handful of times.  Those times he was in Archer's care.  I have been with him a significant portion of every day since he was born.  Putting him in someone else's care, even for 6 hours a day, 3 days a week, during the summer, just seemed, well, wrong.  I'm managing, but after almost 6 weeks, I'm still a bit upset every morning.  I'd rather be with him. 

It hasn't helped that George finds childcare a bit daunting.  He loves his brothers.  He loves their noise and their mayhem.  He actually crawls around the house to find them on the days he's home with us.  But he doesn't really like babies, it seems.  He finds them noisy and irritating.  He gets easily overwhelmed in childcare, and he refuses to take a bottle (he will, however, drink water from a sippy cup throughout the day).  He is hesitant to nap in his crib there, and he is struggling to bond to the caregivers.  He does love the room and the time outside on the playground.  He especially loves lunch, and he really loves it when he is the only baby awake in his room.  He is having a rough time adjusting to everything else.  I know he'll be settled in by September, when he starts going full-time, but his rough transition has made my transition a bit rougher. 

Our little family is going through lots of changes right now (Wild Man is finishing up first grade; Bear is leaving the childcare center to start some day camps in preparation for JK; George is starting childcare; and I'm back in the office), and all of them have me feeling more than a bit emotional. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Yetta arrives tomorrow.  Those three words have the power to completely disrupt my life.  I'm not mentally prepared to deal with Archer's mother.  Most days, right now, I'm barely keeping it together.  I'm still adjusting to putting George in childcare, to being back in my office, to having to prep courses for the fall.  I have not had the mental space to prepare myself for 6 days with Archer's mother.  Oh, and her friend.  Because she refused to fly. And she won't travel alone.  She is bringing a friend.  And while I really love this particular friend, I do not need to add 2 people to the chaos of my daily existence for an extended period of time.  I just don't.  I'm sorry that I can't be more gracious and welcoming right now, but really.  I. don't. have. the energy. to entertain.  I care a great deal for my mother-in-law, and I do appreciate that she wants to be here for Bear's birthday (the ostensible purpose for her visit).  I do wish, however, she could be more thoughtful about when she plans her visits.  You know, bringing a friend to my two-bedroom, 1800 square foot home, while the basement is under construction (as in Archer is hanging sheet rock and rewiring the basement as I type this), isn't the easiest time for you to come.  Vent over.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A sleepless night

George is teething.  My easy-going baby isn't so easy-going right now.  He has cut four teeth in as many weeks.  Some days and nights he handles it well, others not so well.  Last night was a not-so-well night.  He was restless, which means I was restless. 

In addition to being unable to sleep because of George's restlessness, I was unable to sleep because I read Eli Saslow's article "After Newtown shooting, mourning parents enter into the lonely quiet" yesterday evening.  By the end of the article I was sobbing.  I felt compelled to check on my children, even though I knew each of them were soundly asleep in their beds (until George woke up 30 minutes later, that is). 

I've written about Newtown before, and I think about the families who are still struggling to get through the most horrific of experiences every day.  Last night I dreamed about them, about meeting them, and hearing their stories.  That dream was oddly comforting.  Then I dreamed that Wild Man was one of the 20 children.  I woke up crying, sweating, and almost hyper-ventilating.  Luckily George was stirring so I could focus on getting him back to sleep; without that task I think I would have had a full-blown panic attack, something that hasn't happened to me in years. 

The thing is, I had one sleepless night as a result of a young man who felt compelled to commit an unfathomable act of violence in a place that is meant to be safe, to house the innocent, and to help them grow.  I cannot imagine how the parents and siblings of those 20 sweet children and the families of those 6 amazing teachers sleep at all. . .

The Market

Archer and I are currently in the midst of deciding whether or not we will go on the market this year.  In many, many ways, I want to go on the market.  I want to see what will happen.  I want to try to get a job in a department where I can teach literature, not just theory.  I love teaching, but I can't see myself being completely fulfilled professionally if I can't teach the things I got into this profession to teach.  It is, of course, much more complicated than that.  As I told a friend this morning, the pros and cons are infinite.

  • teaching what I love
  • being in a location we like better than CU Land
  • potentially being closer to family and friends
  • having my teaching and research intersect in more clearly defined ways
  • having easy access to materials in my field (the ILL librarian and I have become really tight in the 5 years we've been here)
  • being closer to locations I need to go to do archival work
  • being able to teach our children about their home country without going out of way to do so (this seems like a little thing, but we've already had to start giving Wild Man mini lectures on American history)
  •  being able to attend conferences with more ease
  • I could go on and on.
  • moving
  • starting over
  • leaving our house
  • leaving our network of friends and colleagues
  • learning another university/college system
  • being closer to family (yep, this is both a pro and a con)
  • going on the market (it is such a time drain that it is a con in and of itself)
  • interviewing (it's not my favorite thing)
  • the negativity that comes out of the experience
  • the guilt that I will feel (we have jobs; going on the market means we may be taking jobs from people who don't have them.  Yes, I worry about things like that.)
  • leaving a unionized system (it comes with lots of hassles, but we have recourse when things go badly, as they often do in academia)
  • Again, I could go on and on.
We haven't yet decided what to do.  I want to give it a go, but Archer is more hesitant.  Neither of us is 100% happy here (nor are we naive enough to think that we would be 100% happy anywhere), but it's familiar.  He is close to tenure, and he'll get it.  He is also being "groomed" for an administrative role, which means more money and lots more headaches.  Currently we're in a liminal space and trying to figure out what the best step is for us professionally and for our family.

Monday, June 03, 2013


In the past 3 months, Archer and I have started taking our boys to church.  I haven't attended church regularly since, well, ever.  My father is a lapsed Catholic, and my mother was Presbyterian.  We didn't go to church unless we were visiting my mother's parents.  Even attending church then was a big deal, at least for my mom.  My dad never went, not even out of respect to my grandparents, which was upsetting to everyone.  My mom went occasionally, but her visits were usually prompted by lengthy guilt trips on the part of my grandmother.  As an adult, I would go with my grandparents when I visited them.  It meant a lot to them, and as it was really no hardship to me, I went.  I rarely discussed religion with my grandparents though as it was hard for me to explain that I see religion much differently than they did.  It was easier just to go than to debate the finer points of theology.

Recently, Wild Man has started asking questions about religion, questions that Archer and I are really unprepared to answer.  We can't answer, in part, because we're not sure what we  believe, and we can't answer some questions because we simply don't know enough about Christianity to answer.  So we've started attending church to give our children some sort of religious grounding, to combat our own ignorance, to feel more connected to our community, and to figure out what we believe in.  I know there are lots of people out there who will likely be offended for our reasons, but I can't honestly say I feel called to go to church.  I haven't been divinely inspired or anything like that.  I really just want to learn more, and I also want to be able to help my children find their way.

You see, I feel like my parents did my siblings and I a huge disservice by not educating us about religion.  We never discussed religion in my house when I was a child.  If religion came up, it was only when my father openly derided anyone who was religious for his or her hypocrisy (he never explained how religious people were hypocritical, just insisted they were).  What I know about Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is what I've gleaned on my own. I've read some religious texts, and I am familiar with the Bible (I have to be given the period that I study).  I took a few religious studies courses in college out of interest, and I read a lot.  By virtue of all that I am not completely ignorant about religion.  But I don't feel like I can adequately answer my children's questions about religion.  I want my children to have a religious background because I want them to have something to reject.  I want them to be able to say, with confidence, I believe in X, but I don't believe in Y.  I want that, in part, because I can't do that.  I know so little about theology and doctrine that I don't really know what I believe.  So we're going to church and I've been reading some spiritual narratives.  I'm still not sure what I think, but I find comfort in knowing what other people believe, in knowing that I'm not the only one with questions.

I am also really enjoying the church we're going to.  It was recommended by some friends, and the congregation and ministers (they are a husband and wife) have been really welcoming.  They have also given us a lot of space to get used to things.  No one has called us at home or tried to visit us.  Both ministers have offered to talk to us "when we're ready," but no one has pressured us.  That has been nice, comforting even.  I appreciate that they recognize that we're trying to figure this out for our family and not trying to strong arm us into anything (which has been my experience with very religious friends in the past).  It also helps that we've specifically chosen a denomination that is very liberal and open-minded.  This specific church is also very welcoming of children. No one cares when George starts jabbering during the middle of the sermon--and I mean he jabbered so loudly that he made the minister laugh mid-sermon.  No one cares if Bear comes to church in his slippers--seriously, I have bigger battles to fight than getting the kid into "real" shoes.  And no one cares when Wild Man stops the ministers during "Children's Corner" to ask a doctrinal issue--why can't I take communion yet?  I don't know if this church will become my spiritual home, but I do know this church has welcomed me and my family while allowing us to get acclimated and to determine how involved we want to be.  For that, I'm grateful.

I am still here. . .

barely.  Blogging, it seems, has become increasingly less important to me.  I still want to blog, but I no longer think in blog posts, if that makes sense.  Perhaps that will return once I am in my office every day, but I don't think it will.  Things have shifted for me, although I'm not sure I can put that shift in words.  I am just starting to understand how deeply the events of last spring affected me (I know, I know; I need to shut up about it already. So a bunch of academics screwed me over.  I still got a T-T job out of it.  Who am I to complain?).  While I do recognize how fortunate I was to have come out of all of that relatively unscathed professionally, I was not unscathed personally.  I find myself less willing to talk about projects with colleagues at CU.  I'm more wary.  I don't trust people any more, which is sad as we're being encouraged to build collaborative projects across the faculty (whatever the hell that means).  But even after being encouraged to reach out to several people for various reasons, I still feel uncertain about it.  It's really hard to put into words as I am just allowing myself to process those events.  With that I will end this rambling post. . .

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More than others

When I was working on my doctorate, I was fortunate enough to find my people.  By that I mean, I was in a place with like-minded people who were doing what I was doing.  I realize this is a side-effect of graduate work.  These people, however, were much more than an intellectual cohort, a term that gets bandied around these parts a lot.  They were, as I said, my people.  Initially, they were my friends, but they became my family.  We helped each other through a lot of shit.  Some academic, some not.  I miss these people, most of whom are now finished with their graduate degrees and now live all over the country, every. single. day.  Today, I am missing them more than I do most days.  And you know who you are.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Since dropping George and Bear off at daycare this morning, I've managed to finish a large section of a paper that has been dogging me for almost two months.  This paper is the culmination of a project I started with two colleagues over a year ago.  It has been an exciting process as it has allowed me to work in an area I find intriguing but know almost nothing about.  For that reason--at least I'm blaming it on that--I have really struggled with this essay.  In fact, writing it has been more painful than writing my dissertation.  But now, I'm almost finished.  In fact, I can now see the finish line.  That makes taking George to daycare just a little bit easier.

Monday, May 06, 2013


George starts daycare today.  For now, he will only be going two days a week.  While my practical side tells me that this is necessary in order for me to get some crucial work done, my not-so-practical side is sad.  I've never spent more than 4 hours away from him, and on those rare occasions, he has been in Archer's care.  I somehow managed to get him a spot in the room Bear was in, so he is with a teacher we know well.  In fact, she has already baby-sat him a few times.  Archer was hopeful I wouldn't be too upset this morning because, as he said, "We've done this twice already."  I managed to keep it together until we left the center, but then, I had a good cry. 

In memory

A lot has happened since I last posted.  On April 20th, my grandfather, for whom Wild Man is named, died, just a few months shy of his 89th birthday. While his death was not unexpected, it was still shocking.  While I'm happy he is no longer missing my grandmother, who died 2 1/2 years ago, I am sad he is gone.  He was one of the few people I firmly believed loved me unconditionally.  Our relationship was easy.  He placed no demands on me.  He was just my grandfather.  He was always happen to see me and thrilled when I called him.  I was born on his birthday, and for that reason, I think we always shared a special bond. 

He was a coal miner for more than 30 years, so I wanted to share this image of him.  I don't associate him with the mines, as I knew a very different side of him.  I still think this image captures him as I remember him best, smiling, relaxed, calm.  He was a wonderful person, and I miss him very much.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Getting out of the . . .

Facebook game.  I'm seriously thinking of shutting down my account.  I can't take it anymore.  I realize I post a lot of things that are political in content and that I occasionally engage in debates.  I do, however, try really, really hard to be respectful of others and their opinions.  I never take something someone else has posted and re-post it out of context; I feel that's disrespectful and obnoxious.  I wish I could say that others are extending the same level of respect to me.  I also really, really tired of having people who claim to know and love me label me as a "progressive" or a "liberal."  Yes, I proudly use both of those labels to describe myself, but I don't like having them used as pejoratives.  Really, I'm just tired.  If we can't even communicate with friends and family members in respectful ways on social media platforms, how can we expect our leaders to do so?

Monday, April 15, 2013

From 1998-2000,* I lived an hour's drive from Newtown, CT.  In fact, I drove by the town's exit more times that I can remember.  I think that is one reason, among many, many others, I was particularly affected by the events there on December 14, 2012.  I knew that town. I had been there.  I had stopped for coffee and wandered down the idyllic main street with friends one lovely spring day.  Because of this connection (which is tenuous at best, I know), I have followed the story fairly closely.  I've been struck by the families willingness to discuss the events of that day and to share details about their children's lives.  Archer and I have talked about it a lot, and we even discussed it with Wild Man, as he heard about the shootings on the radio.  I've wept repeatedly for these children and their families, which may seem odd given that I don't know any of the families and that I was, arguably, not touched personally by this tragedy. 

Now I'm immersed in the debate for gun control, a debate that I hope will also spawn a debate on mental health care, our culture of violence, and empathy.  As I've read the news stories surrounding the upcoming Senate vote, I am unconvinced that anything will happen.  But I'm also confused.  If the gun lobbyists and those opposed to gun control believe so strongly that no legislation will be passed, why threaten to fillibuster?  Why shut down the dialogue altogether?  Perhaps gun control isn't the way to prevent similar things from occurring.  Perhaps their are better ways.  I am willing to listen, as I imagine are the millions of others who are in favor of stronger gun control.  But I do not, cannot understand the unwillingness to have a dialogue.  If we're going to make things better for our children, don't we have to talk to one another?

*I'm not titling the post, nor am I tagging it.  I'm not interested in using my blog to generate a lot of debate on gun control, even though I'd be happy to have some new readers.  I'm using my blog as a space to process my thoughts and feelings about this particular event and issue.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Academic Mothering

I consider myself an academic mother; for me, the name, such as it is, merges my professional and personal life.  I am an academic, and I am a mother.  It is impossible to every stop being one or the other.  I am both simultaneously.  I am always thinking about my children and the things I need to do for them, and I'm always thinking about my research and writing.  There is no separation.

Many of my friends, especially my close friends, are also academic mothers, although I don't know how many of them would self-identify in that way.  Among these friends, I've observed something that I find disconcerting.  A few of these friends, two in particular, speak about mothering and their children with something close to disdain.  Now, these two women love their children; I don't mean to suggest otherwise.  They light up when their children walk into the room, and they tell delightful stories about their children.  But when in certain groups, primarily groups in which other academics are present, they act as though they hate parenting, as though their children keep them from their "real" work, and as though their "careers" are more fulfilling than parenting.  This makes me really uncomfortable for several reasons.

First, as I've blogged before (a long, long time ago), CU is fairly friendly to faculty members with families.  In fact, CU has an astounding number of faculty members with young children.  Part of this, I think, is due to Canadian culture, which allows for year-long parental leaves, and part of this is due to the unionized environment of CU (for example, despite being the equivalent of an American R1, the tenure requirements are fairly manageable and clearly spelled out; also taking parental leave of a certain length delays tenure by a full-year).  People here have kids.  People with kids bring their kids to class on occasion and many bring their kids to events and meetings.  Archer and I often have the boys on campus, especially now as we're in the odd time when my leave has ended but we don't have full time child care for Bear and we don't have any child care for George.  To return to my original point, no one here has ever made me feel less than anyone else because I have children.  Sure, I have colleagues who never ask about my children, but that's okay because I never ask about their dogs, for example.  I don't feel as though people question my abilities as an academic because I'm a mother, or at least I don't feel as though most of my colleagues do.

My friends' tendency to disparage parenting and their own children makes me uncomfortable because it's a performance, a carefully constructed one at that.  It is as though these two women, both of whom have tenure and have proven themselves as teachers and researchers, as it were, believe they have to project a certain image of themselves in order to maintain their academic credibility.  I think this just perpetuates the unequal way many academic parents are treated.  Everyone knows I have children, and everyone knows I'm happy to talk about my children.  But everyone also knows I am a successful teacher and a good researcher.  I am able to be both without disparaging one or the other.

This is not to say that I'm always secure in my role, and I do think my friends' tendency to speak badly of parenting is due to their own insecurities.  But I am secure in my role as a mom.  I know I'm a good mom.  I have three happy, healthy, confident children to support that belief.  I'm less secure in my role as an academic, although I am becoming more confident.  But I also believe that the two roles, the two halves of myself, as it were, can't be separated, and I don't want them to be.  I think my friends are more insecure about their ability to mother effectively while maintaining the active research and service loads that they do.  I know things are going to fall through the cracks, and mostly I'm okay with that.  I don't have to be a perfect mother, and I certainly don't have to be a perfect academic.  I'd rather be happy, get some work done, and hang out with my kids.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Letting Go

In January, I declared this the year of "Letting Go."  And then I promptly stopped writing about that.  I've done some work on letting go of some things, both emotional and material.  This theme is hard, though, as it requires I try to communicate with people that I've been less than successful communicating with in the past.  It seems, however, that I need to apply my theme to my professional life as well.

I met with Dr. Feminist Philosopher (the new chair of my home department) today to ask some questions about a grant she wants me to apply for.  She said, "M, we need to get your a mentor who can shepherd you through the tenure process.  We did this for Dr. X and Dr. Y, and it worked really well for them.  Who do you think it should be?  I think it needs to be someone from Underwater Basketweaving Department."  Now, Dr. Feminist Philosopher was on leave last spring when all the heinous things occurred with Underwater Basketweaving Department, so she isn't fully aware of why I'd be hesitant to work with someone from said department.  I said, "Well, yes, I see how that makes sense, but honestly, it's still a bit awkward for me given everything that happened last year."  She replied, "I don't know the whole story, and I don't need to know the whole story.  I know enough to know that they were unkind to you, both professionally and personally.  But you now have a tenure track appointment in our department, and I want you to succeed.  No one here does quite what you do.  Dr. X could help, but she's only just going up for tenure herself.  I think you need someone in your historical period."  I said, "Yes, and Dr. Americanist seems like a good fit as a mentor.  In fact, before all of this happened, we were building toward that sort of relationship.  But I honestly have not spoken to him in more than passing since last spring."  She looked at me for a moment, almost as if she were assessing me, and then said, "I will speak to him for you.  I will also speak with Dr. Modernist.  I know she isn't directly in your field, but she is kind.  She's a great editor, and I think you would like her."

I got the implicit message.  Yes, you were screwed over a bit, but you need to do well here.  Doing well here clearly means getting past all that.  You need to do that if you're going to succeed.  I appreciate that she is giving me the space to do this, and that she's the one trying to repair these relationships for me.  But honestly, letting go of this is hard.  I'm still trying to understand what happened.  It's hard not to feel as though I did something wrong, even though I know I didn't--other than trust these people.  It seems I have more work to do on this.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Is this enough?

It is exhausting to constantly ask "Is this enough?"  Whether I'm thinking about work or home, I'm asking myself that question a lot lately.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My George

Here's my daily lunch date for the last several months. . .

Mothers and Daughters

I am regularly asked if I'm going to "try for a girl."  I hate this question.  I really do.  First, it assumes that I'm unhappy mothering three sons.  Second, it privileges the relationship between a mother and a daughter as somehow more meaningful, more important than the one between a mother and a son.  I typically just laugh and say, "No, three boys is just right for us."  I realize the individuals asking the question don't mean any harm, but really, it isn't so bad being the only woman in a house of four men.

In fact, I'm often glad I don't have a daughter.  I'm often uncertain a mother and a daughter relationship can be healthy.  I mean, I know it can; I have seen lots of examples in my life.  I have friends who have great relationships with their mothers.  I have friends who have great relationships with their daughters.  But in my own family, the relationships are contested at best, particularly the one between my mother and sister. 

You see, my mother and sister don't really talk.  They text, and they attempt to communicate through me.  I talk to my mother about twice a week, and she invariably asks "Have you talked to your sister?  Do you know what's going on with her?"  Sometimes I have talked to my sister, and I occasionally share what I consider to be fairly innocuous details with my mother, primarily to appease her and make my life easier.  Lots of times, though, I haven't spoken to my sister in weeks, sometimes months, and I have nothing to share.  When I do talk to my sister, she says thinks like, "Why does Mom call you and not me?"  Well, I know the answer to this, but I don't share it.  Telling my sister that my mom finds her to be self-centered (she is, but so is my mom) and reticent about discussing her children (we are, after all, at the point in our lives when our mom is more interested in hearing about her grandkids than about us, and that's fine with me, but not so fine with my sister).  My mom calls my sister to check on her, but she also wants to know how Brown-Eyed Boy and Girl are doing.  My sister never discusses them, never.  This upsets my mom, so she has stopped calling, relying instead on weekly text messages. 

My mom isn't much better than my sister at communicating; in fact, she's rather judgmental, particularly about my sister's choices.  Simply put, she can't keep her opinions to herself.  Sure my sister makes poor choices, but as the choices rarely impact her children, I don't think my mom should offer her opinion.  That said, I also don't think my sister should seek out my mom's opinion and then get pissed when my mom offers one my sister doesn't like.  It's complicated, and it's childish. 

In fact, this is the model that most mother-daughter relationships seem to follow.  It's as though strong, independent women revert to adolescent behavior when dealing with their mothers and their daughters.  It's odd and disconcerting.  I realize I have no guarantee my relationship with my sons will be any different, but I'm taking notes, and I'm cautiously optimistic.

Conflicted. . .

that is the word that best describes how I am feeling today.  In fact, it best describes how I've felt for a week or so now.  I know why, more or less.  My mat leave officially ends next week.  I say officially because I timed my leave with the start and end of classes; thus, I don't go back into the classroom until September as the Winter semester at CU ends April 11th.  My responsibilities to my departments will be relatively light: end of the year meetings, faculty development retreats, and evaluating transcripts.  I have to finish adapting one of my courses to teach as an on-line course, but I have much of that done already.  I have two essays I need to finish revising and submit, and my goal is to have both under review by August 15th.  But given all this, I don't expect much will change, at least not till exams are over.  So I have another six weeks or so in which I will primarily be a stay-at-home mom.  George is slated to go into daycare part-time sometime at the end of April or beginning of May, depending on when a spot is available. 

I know this is a great situation.  I know I've been really lucky this year.  I like my job, and I know I'll be happy once I go back to work.  But I'm still conflicted.  I didn't expect to like staying home as much as I do.  I haven't longed for "adult" conversations, the way so many people told me I would.  I've enjoyed making muffins with Bear and just hanging out with George.  I've liked meeting Wild Man at the bus stop almost every day and listening to him describe his day.  I've found a groove of sorts, and now I have to find a new groove, one that will be infinitely more complicated and focused on schedules--at least by September.

And on the other hand, it will be good to have more than 45 minutes at a time to work, to know my work time is my work time, and that my time with my  kids doesn't have to be so split.  I think I'd feel less conflicted if the last few weeks I hadn't been so focused on getting an essay done.  I've been writing in snatches, but most every free minute is devoted to trying to get this thing finished.  As I wrote before, it is slow going, which is frustrating.  I know I am ready to have time to focus on work.  But dropping George off at daycare the first day will be infinitely harder than it was to take Wild Man or Bear, and neither of those days were what I'd describe as easy.   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I do exist

I am still here.  Here are some random updates to prove that.
  • Student loans suck.  I am paying mine back, but I failed to consolidate them when I could have last year.  (I was busy, you know, having a baby)  I went online to make my monthly payment but I couldn't find the loan.  Seriously. I typed in my info and no account showed up.  So I called and was told my loan had been sold to another company.  I have gotten nothing informing me of this.  Luckily I was able to get this figured out so that my payment wasn't late, but really.  These companies could make it easier on people trying to make payments.
  • I have two weeks left on my mat leave.  I am not happy about this, but we are trying to figure this out.  I have emailed both chairs of the departments in which I am appointed to let them know I am available for meetings but will be primarily working from home.
  • I am trying to finish a paper in my spare time (read: the time Archer can stop working to take care of George).  The work is slow going, but I am happy with the results.
  • I could write more, but I'm tired.  Plus this has already turned into one of the most boring posts ever.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

1,000 posts

A few weeks ago I reached 1,000 posts.  Yay me!

My grandfather

George and I visited my grandfather last week.  I'd like to say it was a lovely visit.  I'd like to say that George bonded with my grandfather.  I'd like to say I feel like the visit was worthwhile.  Unfortunately, I can't.  My grandfather is miserable.  He is exhausted.  He is lonely.  He is depressed.  He is ready to die.  I think he has been since my grandmother died in 2010.  I think I could handle all of that if he hadn't gotten mean, but alas, he is so unhappy to still be alive that he is unpleasant to be around.  That makes me really, really sad.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It takes a village

Archer is out of town for three days and two nights, which means I'm on my own with the boys.  I've had lots of help though.  Our lovely neighbor came by this morning to walk Wild Man to the bus stop, so I wouldn't have to take all three boys out at 7:20 in the morning.  She is doing the same thing tomorrow morning.  My good friends are picking Bear up at preschool this afternoon, so I don't have to drive across town again.  Then they are joining us for dinner.  This weekend I'm going out of town; I'm taking George to meet my grandfather, who is 88 and in really poor health.  Another good friend has offered to keep Wild Man and Bear, so they aren't in the car all day as Archer goes to and from Big City airport.  It definitely takes a village, and I'm glad we've found one in CU Land.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The fallout

It seems the fallout from last spring's drama at CU continues.  I've just been notified that unless I can get one of the two departments to agree to run the travel course I designed (which doesn't really fit in either department) I will be forced to return the money.  There are days when I seriously wonder if this is the place for us.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The baby I wasn't sure I wanted

In November 2011 I discovered I was pregnant.  We were not trying to get pregnant, and if I'm being completely, brutally honest, I'm still not sure how it happened.  I mean, I know how it happened, but the event, as it were, was brief.  It was, in fact, not even completed because, as I recall, Bear woke up screaming literally seconds after it had started.  Following an evening together, with a lovely dinner that Archer made for us and at least two bottles of wine, we had, apparently, done just enough.  Thus, I blame George's conception on one too many glasses of wine, a momentary lapse in judgement, and, well, fate. 

I was less than happy about being pregnant, as I wrote here.  I was, in fact, horrified. I cried for two weeks.  I called my best friend daily, who reassured me that I could manage.  That it would be okay.  That we could afford another baby.  That I had really wanted a third child but convinced myself that I didn't.  After three days of such phone calls, my friend said to me what I had been thinking but wouldn't allow myself to say outloud: "M, if the thought of another baby makes you this unhappy, you don't have to have it."  In that moment, my dear, lovely friend offered me what I couldn't, what I had refused to offer myself: the space to consider what my life would be like without this unexpected third child. 

I imagined life very much like it was: a good life, a happy life.  Working, parenting Bear and Wild Man, being with Archer, traveling.  I talked to Archer, who remained largely silent throughout my emotional turmoil.  I talked to my doctor.  I had bloodwork.  I did the research.  I talked with another dear, dear friend who had made the horrifying, gut-wrenching decision to end a pregnancy over a decade ago.  I made an appointment.  I knew Archer didn't want me to, but I couldn't see a future in which we weren't both so stressed out by work and by finances, struggling to be the parents we wanted to be but couldn't be because we were so constrained by time and by resources.  I couldn't see a happy ending.

Then, my wise, honest, loving friend, who had been through it before she had her children, said, "You will want to keep it a secret, but this is big.  You won't be able to keep it a secret forever.  Somehow, I think, Bear and Wild Man will find out, or perhaps you will want to tell them.  Can you explain it to them?  Can you answer their questions?"  I knew I couldn't.  More importantly, I knew I wouldn't be able to answer my own questions, to address my own what-ifs. I would never be able to believe that Archer, whom I know only wanted me to be happy and excited, had forgiven me. Twenty-four hours later I cancelled the appointment.

Now, well over a year later, George is six-months old.  He is a happy, blue-eyed, wiggly, giggly baby.  He has completed our family.  He is the piece we didn't know was missing. He has transformed each of us in big and small ways, even Wild Man and Bear, who are both more compassionate, a bit more patient, and so loving to him and each other.  Now, I look at him and I get emotional.  But not for the reasons you might think. 

I don't regret that period, that whole horrible, dreadful time when I wasn't sure I wanted him.  I realize now that was part of our journey, his and mine.  His unexpected arrival made me stronger, made me a better mother in many ways.  I'm more protective of my children now, of my time with them; I'm more empathetic and, perhaps, more understanding.  In those dreadful, dreadful weeks--and even in the emotional months after I decided to go through with the pregnancy--I realized that, despite all my fear and worry, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to go through with an unplanned pregnancy.  I don't take that good fortune for granted because not everyone has it.

In those gut-wrenching weeks, I learned firsthand,  something I had always suspected: choosing to end a pregnancy is not an easy decision.  It is not a decision that is made lightly.  It is agonizing and horrific and vomit-inducing.  Those of us who have been in such a position to contemplate such a decision, let alone make it, and go through with it judge ourselves harshly, perhaps daily for a long, long time.  But I know now, again as I always suspected, that sometimes that decision is what is right for that person at that time.  And the many, many women who have to make that decision, are not cowardly or desperate, nor are they cruel or emotionless, as so many people would have us believe.  They are brave.  That is what having George taught me.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A big deal

For the past ten days Bear has gone poop on the potty rather than in a pull-up.  This is a big deal in our house, a really big deal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Productive, sort of

Last week and the weekend were productive for me.  I finished editing some essays for a project I'm working on.  I finally finished the introduction and first part of a paper I need to work on.  I ordered a bunch of books for another project, and I am in the process of submitting the receipts for those books (this is for the grant I was awarded last year).  I have read abstracts for a panel I'm proposing for a major conference in my field and am in the process of finalizing the proposal.  I'm trying to be productive today.  George, however, is teething and has a cold.  We've been up since 5:30 after being up several times throughout the night.  I need a nap, but every time I get George to sleep he wakes up.  I will now return to trying to be productive, and by that, I mean I'm going to put George in his activity center so I can watch The View.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I'm writing this in an attempt to pull together my scattered thoughts.  I'm trying to work on a paper, but I'm thinking of the 18 other things I need to do while Archer is managing George.  My thoughts are scattered as I'm, mentally, somewhere between maternity leave and work.  I want to be working.  I want to write and compose course descriptions.  I want to put together a research grant so I can do some archival work this summer.  But I want to hang out with George, pick Wild Man up from the bus stop, and paint with Bear.  I want to make scones and stew, but I want to read and take notes too.  I want to stop thinking about home and try to focus on this task, but since I'm sitting in my home office, surrounded by crayon drawings, baby toys, and toy cars, I'm finding that a bit difficult.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Letting Go

I spoke with my dad today, very briefly.  I called my mom, and he asked to speak with me.  This is a rarity.  My dad and I tend to speak through my mom or through short emails.  For a moment, I was really happy my dad asked to talk to me.  I thought, "Hey, maybe some of the conversations we had over the holidays had an affect."  Then he said, "I just wanted to ask what Archer wants for his birthday.  You haven't told me anything yet."  I sighed and said, "I'll get him to email you, Dad.  Thanks for thinking of him."  He then said good-bye and passed the phone back to my mom.  Every January, my father repeatedly asks what Archer wants for his birthday.  It starts on Christmas Day and continues until Archer's birthday, sometimes well after.  I usually manage to come up with something--a book, a CD, a sweater.  I am always, however, hurt by my father's intense preoccupation with Archer's birthday.  You see, my dad never asks me what I want for my birthday, nor does he take part in any gift my mom sends me; similarly, he never asks the boys what they might want for their birthdays or for Christmas.  So as thoughtful as my dad is being of Archer, he seemingly forgets me and his grandsons on our birthdays.   

I am officially letting go of my feelings of disappointment and hurt.  My dad loves my husband.  I can't let that bother me.  I choose to be happy that he cares about my husband.  I know myself well enough to know that I will still struggle with this, but I will try.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Confessions of a Skinny Girl

I am a "skinny girl," whatever that means.*  I'm 5'3" and weigh about 108 pounds.  I've never been on a diet, not even after having my children. In fact, five months after giving birth to my third child I am back in my pre-pregnancy clothes with little or no effort.  I am the kind of woman other women hate, as I have been told many, many times in my life.  Because I'm petite, people tend to assume that I don't have body issues, that I'm comfortable in my own skin.  While almost every woman I know complains about her body issues to her friends, I am not allowed to do this.  In fact, if I say, "I don't like how I look in X,"  I am actually mocked.  I've been told by more than one good friend, "The skinny girl doesn't get to complain."  I, a "skinny" girl,  have some confessions to make. 
  • I do have body issues, and I do want to talk about those issues with my friends.  
  • Whenever someone says, "You look great, and I only hate you a little bit," my feelings are hurt.  
  • "Skinny" girls aren't skinny because we want to make women who aren't "skinny" feel bad.
  • Even though I don't diet, I do watch what I eat, and I do eat healthily.  
  • I spend as much time thinking about food and my body as you do.
  • I think I look awful in a bathing suit, and I'm not thrilled with the state of my abs.
  • I don't think I'm skinny enough.
Here is the biggest confession of all:
  • I have a skewed body image, as do most "skinny" girls.  Every time someone pays me a genuine compliment (and really, I feel like those are rare as most compliments include the statement "I hate you!" which I am meant to take as a joke), I think to myself, "Really, that person clearly doesn't see what I see. I think I could stand to lose a few pounds, and I really need to do more crunches."
So the next time you tell a "skinny" girl you hate her because of her size, think about how she feels about her own body first.

*I think this will be a series of posts.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The first step

Keeping with my theme, the first thing I need to "let go" is disappointment over certain relationships, namely the one I have with my father.  I could write a lengthy post about my dad, whom I love so very much.  Then I'd end up in tears, and I'd be dwelling on things.  Instead I want to write a few things that I need to remember about my dad that will help me let go of my disappointment about our relationship.
  • I am an adult, and I am as  responsible for the state of our relationship as he is.
  • My dad is not at the place he thought he'd be in at 64, either financially or in terms of his health.
  • My dad comes from a time when the father's primary responsibility was to be the "breadwinner."  For a variety of reasons, he feels like he has fell short in that respect.  Almost everything he does is colored by this belief.
  • My dad did not have a good relationship with his own father.
  • My dad (who is technically my stepfather) has never lived with children younger than 5 for an extended period of time.  He truly has no idea how to relate to young children.  He also believes children should just do as they are told without question.
  • My dad will always rely on my mother to convey things to me; he doesn't want to engage in any sort of emotional exchange because he is afraid I will see him get emotional.
  • My dad does the best he can.  Often that isn't enough, but I need to remember that he firmly believes that.


Before we left Home State, Yetta asked me if I had made any resolutions.  Her resolutions are straightforward, she told me: maintain her low-sodium diet (long story, but since she's been on it she's lost over 100 pounds and is much happier and healthier), try not to engage Pita in any arguments (this one will be difficult to keep, I'm betting), and to purge her house of some unnecessary stuff.  I didn't really respond other than to encourage her. 

You see, I'm not really a resolutions sort of person.  I try (emphasis on try) to identify things that need to be changed throughout the year and to work on issues as they come.  Some times I'm successful, sometimes not.  I could type up a whole list of things that I want to work on right now, but I'm not certain I see that as productive.  Profgrrrl identifies a theme that she wants to focus on each year, and I've been thinking about this technique for a while.  I've been trying to pinpoint the biggest issue I feel I have right now.  I have a hard time letting go of the little things; I do not focus on the moment very well.  So I've decided that this will be the year of "letting go."  It is a bit cliche and even a bit cheesy, I know, but I do think it will be helpful to me to remember that "letting go," whether it is bad feelings, something that didn't get done, or things I no longer need, will help me declutter my mind and my life.  That is my goal for this year.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

We're home!

Happy New Year, everyone!

We arrived home yesterday after a very early morning flight, a very short layover, and a 2-hour drive.  The children did remarkably well, but then, they tend to travel well as we've done so much of it.  CU Land has approximately 6 inches of snow on the ground.  Wild Man was so excited to see snow that he asked if we could wait to open our Santa presents so he could go play.  As Bear was equally happy to be in his own space, Archer and I agreed.  After playing in the snow for about 45 minutes, Wild Man came inside to get warm and dry.  Then he asked if we could open presents.  He was a bit disappointed we couldn't make homemade pizza for dinner, which is one of our holiday traditions, but we promised him we'd make it one night this week.  He said, "No store bought pizza, Mommy.  We have to make it from scratch!"  All in all, we had a relaxing late-afternoon and evening.

As I steal away a few moments to type this, Bear and Wild Man are "organizing" their new toys.  Our playroom is far from organized, but they are happy.  George is happy to have his things too.  He has spent some quality time in his exer-saucer this morning, and he enjoyed sitting in his high chair last night.  After more than a week sleeping between Archer and me, it will take some work to get him back in  his crib, but I'm not stressing out about anything today.  I'm as happy as my children to be home.