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.