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.