Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Daily Whine

I'm not a good blogger. I always have lots of things I want to write about, but if I did I may have to rename the blog 'The Daily Whine", or something similar.I don't lose sight of the good things, I really rarely do. I'm a tenured, associate professor and so a pretty steady and stable job, I have a great little boy, a happy marriage, friends, training, and so forth. But i'm Chair of the department, I'm working a more than full time job, our family lives overseas, and there are only 24 hours in any one day.

I like my job. I do. I enjoy teaching, I enjoy researching and writing, and there are even elements of being chair that I find interesting. It's just that I would prefer to spend my days with Raf. I'd prefer to play with him, I'd prefer to teach him words and watch him as he negotiates his world and finds his way in the world.

And yet of course I do get meaning from my work. I spent time embarking on a PhD, and, really, given how awful that entire experience is I really ought to get some sort of meaning from my work! My research is meaningful, at least to me, and there is a part of me that is invigorated and bettered for engaging in the world in that way, but the balance of my life is really feeling off kilter. I often work from home but I spend so much of my time returning email, composing messages to deal with ongoing and new problems. I prepare classes and grade on the weekends, and being chair makes everything just much, much more intense.

Today I spent a good portion of my time on the verge of crying, feeling overwhelmed by all the things I haven't done and all the things I have yet to do and don't even know about. I feel such enormous envy for women who stay home, or who at least make a choice to go to work or stay home. My 'choice' is compelled. Compelled by the fact I have tenure (who can walk away from a job like that?), by the economy, by the cultural norm that 'women like me' remain at work (I don't think it's an accident that most female academics I know are married WITHOUT kids, which is different from the male academics who mostly do have children).

When I feel this unbalanced and stretched and utterly overloaded, my patience is thin and my capacity to integrate all these part of my life just falls away. I'm at this point this evening, despite a nice weekend (perhaps because of the weekend), heading to bed with some dread as the week stretches out before me.


  1. well...yeah! that's a lot. and being chair, jeez, that's just over the top.

    for me having a place where i do "the daily whine" makes it less something I need to feel all day long. funny how well that works, it's so cliche!

    i have thought a lot lately (like today, maybe yesterday, which feels somewhat like forever) about how the different stages of a child's life probably have more draw for parenting at home vs being a work. did that make sense? like when you're watching your child discover, that would be so fun at times. when you're holding a screamer, well, maybe it would be okay to miss some of that. like...maybe it goes back and forth with when it'd be ideal to be home more than at work.

    but really, what do i know? not a lot. just thinking.

    i really truly feel for you though, i can tell how agonizing it is for you. and i know how smart and engaged you are, so i have no doubt that if work were going to be "enough" for you, it would be.


  2. Without kids, I can't truly understand what you are going through however, I watch co-workers with young families struggle with the work-life balance and I know when we are blessed with a little one, I will be in the same boat.

    I have read a lot about how our generation differs from the generations before us and how we feel the need for work/life balance, especially after kids. I work in HR at service firm that allows individuals (men and women) to reduce their schedule (and salary) so they can maintain their work/life balance and, of course, they have the opportunity to work full time later on. I think this benefit is going to become more commonplace because of the need we feel to do (and be good at!) everything (work, be a mother, be a wife, be a friend, be a good athlete ........ ). Is that an option in education?

    I have the typical M-F, 9-5 schedule and as I mentioned we don't have kiddos but, I know when we do ... I am not going to want to work a full time schedule. Now, I have enough time to get everything done -- work, workouts, family, friends -- but, if I added one more thing (much less a child!) I'm not sure I would be able to find balance.

    From reading your blog, I think you are doing a great job balancing and prioritizing life. Even if you miss a workout here or there.... no big deal because you are doing it all and making it work.