Aeron Haynie became a mother the year after she received tenure at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay (and exactly one day after she turned 40). Formerly chair of English, she is now on sabbatical and relishes each day.
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October 29, 2009
Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, despite my love of chocolate. As a reserved introvert I’ve always dreaded costume parties. It’s taken me years to grow comfortable with my everyday costume, my carefully constructed persona. But now that I’m the mother of an exuberant extrovert, I’m learning to put my dignity aside and get into the spirit.
October 15, 2009
In the last couple of months, my husband and I were both “furloughed”: we were each informed by our respective employers that we had to take 5 (in his case) and 8 (in my case) unpaid days off. Of course, like many Americans, we smarted at this financial blow. But we also thought heck, it’s better than being laid off entirely, or watching our co-workers get laid off. However, there was one crucial difference in our respective furloughs: my husband (who works in the private sector) was told to take those days off.
September 30, 2009
This week I’m teaching Frankenstein in a lower-level women’s literature course. Among the host of meaty issues, we discuss the ways that Mary Shelley’s novel critiques the male scientist’s obsessive and isolating pursuit of knowledge at the expense of family/romantic/community ties. At the novel’s end, Victor Frankenstein counsels the explorer, Captain Walton, to “seek happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition.”
September 2, 2009
This week I head back to classes after a year-long sabbatical, my daughter begins kindergarten, and my husband reduces his hours to part-time. It is a time of transition for all of us, and although we’re all a bit stressed and cranky, I’m looking forward to this new stage for our family.
August 20, 2009
Well, I can’t live in denial any longer: the end of my sabbatical is fast approaching. In two weeks I begin teaching four courses, five days a week, chairing a search committee, attending numerous meetings, and re-immersing myself in campus politics.
July 29, 2009
As I plan the upcoming semester’s courses, I contemplate the oft-emailed articles about the “millennial generation” students. I’m skeptical of these generational generalizations, particularly since they seem to elide the great differences between students (such as economics). Nonetheless, I find intriguing the claim that the new generation of students like to work in teams. I regularly assign group projects, with mixed success.
July 16, 2009
My daughter is at the age where she likes to hear stories about my childhood. “Tell me a story about little Aeron and little Deirdre,” she begs. They all begin in the same way: “Once upon a time, in a town called Buffalo, New York, there were two sisters…” I tell her about the Christmas when my father surprised me with grown-up platform shoes, when I barfed all over my sister after Thanksgiving, and of the mean tricks I played on friends. Anecdotes turn into fairy tales. I shorten and modify them to be entertaining but not frightening.
July 1, 2009
I’ve just realized that when I’m exercising I take responsibility for the whole room. Let me clarify: I’m not teaching this class, just working out. But I feel compelled to smile encouragingly to the newbie, notice when the person behind me seems exhausted, and worry about the folks who are off-rhythm. I watch the clock, check out the muscle tone on the (much) younger woman in front of me, and wonder how much work I’ll get done when I get home.
June 18, 2009
Although I became a mother late in life, two girls have been teaching me about parenting for the past several years: the 15 year old girl I mentor and my 16 year old step-daughter. Of course, mentoring and (non-custodial) step-mothering is not the same as parenting. It is much less intense and you do not make important decisions in that girl’s life. However, I know from my own experience as a step-daughter that step-mothers and mentors can have profound, lasting effects.
June 3, 2009
They’re killing doctors. That’s what I thought in October, 1998 when I heard that Dr. Barnett Slepian had been gunned down in his home (in front of his family, no less) in a suburb of Buffalo, NY by an anti-abortion activist.This week, when I heard the news of Dr. George Tiller’s murder, I felt a similar sense of sick disbelief.