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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Drama Mama: What It Means to Be 'Lucky'
May 16, 2008 - 5:42am

Recently I have been having many issues with getting all my day to day goals met. Between moving, summer research, grading finals and buying a house (not to mention finally getting on Facebook to keep in touch with students – HUGE TIME SUCKER): life has gotten far more complicated. So I started this new regime where I write my to do list to myself in “letter form” as an email. I write it the night before or first thing in the morning in chunks of four. I feel like three chunks of four seem more accomplishable then a list of 12. I try not to write more then 12 daily because then the list is too daunting. But at the bottom I put 4 fun things to do at work that I can do on my breaks between the chunks of 4 or at the end of the day, which gets me to do my work faster. Fun things include: “buy birthday gift for niece on the internet” or “look for new sofa” etc. Fun things. This blog falls under the fun things list. But then a funny thing happened today where some of the things that I think are fun fell under the earlier work lists like, “prep panel for theatre conference” and “research puppetry workshop”. It then occurred to me how lucky I am, to be both making money and doing what I really enjoy at the same time. How few of the people in the world have this luxury, this thing called luck.

The hard part of course is managing all the good fortune in our lives, great jobs, great kids- etc. A good friend and I often argue about our kids and college. I, being a stubborn academi-phile, think it is imperative that our children attend college and get a degree. My friend, who is getting his master’s degree, thinks: well, if they don’t want to we shouldn’t force them. I try to listen to him with a liberal and open mind but inside I am screaming YES WE SHOULD FORCE THEM!!! I want to scream this because this lucky life of mine was born not just of privilege and opportunity, but partially because my parents made me. They “made me” attend a four year college when I wanted to move to LA and become an actress. They “forced” me to accept their financial support as I struggled in the early years after college taking low paying internships. They “pushed” me to prove to them that theatre is where I wanted to be no matter what the hardships (many of which they religiously pointed out up until my first paying job.) Even to this day, they continue to keep me on my toes defining and redefining what success is when fame and marriage is what they expected success to look like for me. I went to an excellent undergrad because of a little theatre scholarship and because my parents wanted me close to home. The training I received helped me get into a grad school on a full scholarship. At grad school I meet my future husband, got married and not too long after had a baby. The grad school experience introduced me to the world of academia and I fell in love with teaching. My parents got everything they’d planned for, even if it wasn’t in the way that they planned it. And I achieved my dreams as well. I didn’t move to LA and become an actress, but in retrospect, I see now that was just a stepping stone to a larger fulfillment, that as we grow so too do our dreams and allowing room for growth is not a failure but an evolution of our paths, our journeys. My parents pushy pushiness helped me to be prepare for the opportunities that came. The opportunities for growth. Opportunities I couldn’t have even imagined at age 18.Their insistence that I prepare with a little old thing called a degree created the opportunity for me to find my true calling.

In the case of my son, I intend to be a bit pushy pushy. He’s going to go to college. At least I hope so. That’s my intention at any rate; I leave room for growth there too, albeit a bit begrudgingly. What I want is to stack the deck. Not just for him to be successful (what is that anyway) but to be happy. To find meaning in his everyday life which must include his life’s work. That is the gift my parents gave me and the one I want to give my child. I want to give him a happy to do list, made out of 30% luck, 30% preparation, and 30% really pursuing his dreams, no matter where they lead him. That essential last 10%will be the gift wrapping, the part where I get to say “because I say so!” That’ll be on my to do list. Under the fun section.

 

 

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