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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August 1, 2011
Like Susan, I’m thinking about birthdays today. I am writing this on my son’s fourteenth birthday. Fourteen years ago I was in a hospital contemplating the changes in my life: a new son, a daughter who was now also an older sister, a life with two children instead of one. My daughter was seven years old, already in school — we were going back, then, to the time of diapers and daycare long after having left it for the first time.
July 26, 2011
This weekend, my Facebook feed was full of news. And it was four stories, in particular, that cropped up again and again: the Norway attacks, marriage equality in New York State, the weather, and Amy Winehouse. (Apparently my friends aren’t following the debt ceiling debates with any urgency.)
July 18, 2011
My family is just back from a two-week vacation — the first we can remember taking. My husband and I will have been married 24 years this fall, and our previous longest vacation was our ten-day honeymoon. So I think we were due.
June 20, 2011
After Aeron and Susan’s posts about their summers, I feel like chiming in, though I’m a bit wary, given the comments on Aeron’s post from last week. So let me start by saying that I realize many people work longer hours, for less pay, than I do. I’m not writing this to complain, just to shed a little more light on the reality of the academic parent’s lot.
June 13, 2011
Last Wednesday, Nick and I went to our last tae kwon do class. Or at least the last for a while. We had taken the month of May off, as we both had lots of late afternoon activities that were going to keep us out of class most days anyway. Then it looked like June would be just as bad, and we have a vacation planned for July, and Nick’s starting pre-season practices for a new sport in August… In the end, we just couldn’t see a way for him to continue, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep going without him.
June 6, 2011
Several years ago I wrote my first piece for Inside Higher Ed — a meditation on what I learned about teaching from my tae kwon do instructor. I was thinking about that piece recently when, two weeks ago, I spent a week as a “student” in a faculty development workshop on course design.
May 23, 2011
There hasn’t been a whole lot of “mothering” talk on this blog lately — both because I’ve been busy with work and because my kids are in a mostly self-sufficient, and privacy-protecting, stage. Which is just fine. But this week marks a first in parenting for me: my daughter is home from college, “visiting,” and I am not at home. I’m participating in a week-long workshop on course design—something I signed up for over a month ago, long before Mariah’s plans were firm. And once they became firm, I’d already committed to the workshop.
May 16, 2011
I meant to write this blog post last week. I sat down to do it, and an hour later had only written and deleted the same paragraph three or four times. So I gave up. I set aside a block of time each week for this work, and if I can’t get it done in that time, I can’t do it. (Thankfully, Scott Jaschik is very understanding.)
May 2, 2011
Recently I was talking to my daughter about her summer plans. “It’s hard, Mom,” she said. “I have to make a commitment before I have all the information.” “Welcome to adulthood,” I replied. I felt for her. We try to amass as much information as possible before making commitments, but in the end, many adult choices involve best guesses, hopes, and a great deal of faith. Jobs, marriages, and children are among the obvious examples of commitments made without full information, but there are others, perhaps less weighty but still important, in daily academic life.
April 25, 2011
I loved Susan O’Doherty’s blog post on the rite of “passagio” that she’s going through right now as her son gets ready to move on. I, too, am familiar with the transition from chest voice to head voice, and have been through a couple of similar passages myself. In our case, we’ve already gotten used to having a daughter in college — sort of. I have a feeling, though, that just like that chest voice/head voice transition, it’s something we’ll be paying attention to as long as she’s in college.

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