Libby Gruner

Libby Gruner is an English professor at mid-career who started her family in graduate school. She lives in Richmond with her husband and two children, whose 7-year age gap means that she will be the parent of a teenager for quite a while yet.

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Most Recent Articles

October 27, 2008
Six years ago I wrote an essay I called "Mama Mentor."* In it I talked about mentoring a former student, and how I found my mothering and mentoring intertwined. At the time, my children were 12 and 5, and they seemed far indeed from my own students. But I had recently found myself dispensing advice about balancing family life with an academic career -- a topic near and dear to my heart. I may not be an expert on it, but I was, in that case, the only person my former student knew who was actually trying to do it.
October 20, 2008
The comments on Aeron Haynie's post last week got me thinking: are benefits for working parents fair? Some commenters suggest that they aren't, that parents get "extra compensation" in the guise of health insurance, tuition remission benefits, etc. Of course, those don't end up as money in the pockets of said parents -- but they are additional expenses paid by the employer, it's true.
October 13, 2008
This fall has been busy. I'm pretty sure I say that every year, but with three full classes, several important committees, and some significant deadlines looming, this one feels particularly so. And I came back to work this fall a little out of shape for teaching; after a quiet sabbatical, I found myself literally losing my voice mid-way through my second class every day for the first several weeks.
October 6, 2008
It's great to be part of this Mama, PhD community, where faculty with children can share their stories, weigh in on important issues, and generally feel a little less alone in the neverending negotiations that all parents who work outside the home perform. Today I'm struck by Tedra Osell's comments on parenting and pedagogy in her Monday Career Coach column.
September 30, 2008
Back in the days when my peers and I were having our children, I remember hearing that one friend didn’t plan to say “no” to her new baby daughter. She didn’t mean that she would indulge her endlessly, only that she was going to try to redirect her behavior rather than chastise it. I was incredulous — deep in the throes of parenting a four or five year old, I couldn’t imagine restricting my vocabulary that way. “No” was a necessity of life — and has continued to be.
September 22, 2008
There's almost too much important news these days to choose something to blog about. The economy, the election, the weather -- all of these defeat me, though I read and think and talk about them constantly. The news on the career and family front is related to these bigger issues, of course, but it is coming in, lately, in smaller, more manageable chunks.
September 15, 2008
I'm teaching Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein in one of my classes right now, and somehow it's striking a different chord this week than it usually does. Perhaps it's because one of the commenters last week used the term "career suicide," which is one of those phrases that come up when folks talk about balancing academic careers with parenting.
September 8, 2008
I've been saving links* to the Sarah Palin coverage for the last week and a half, but I'm still feeling a bit stymied as to how to link the coverage of the vice presidential nominee to Mama, PhD. Yet it's clear that this nomination -- far more than Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency, or Geraldine Ferraro's earlier nomination for Vice President--has put the so-called "mommy wars" front and center in the national debate.
September 1, 2008
Only two weeks ago I confidently announced that "it's not a race," that I'd be able to keep my head above water, my feet on the ground, my mind in the game . . . OK, I didn't really employ all those cliches, but I watched a lot of Olympic coverage and they snuck in there. In any event, all the pre-semester planning made it seem as if I'd get right back into the swing of the semester, and still have time for myself.
August 25, 2008
I read a piece in the Chronicle last week about being a parent and an adjunct. Maybe you saw it: "It's All in the Bag," by Corinne Bennet. You see, her nice, professional-looking handbag also works as a diaper bag, but she's in fact unable to bring together her dual lives as parent and part-time professor quite so neatly.

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