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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Goodbye and Good luck!
April 15, 2013 - 8:29pm

Almost five years ago I wrote my first blog post for Inside Higher Ed. At the time I had a daughter about to graduate from high school, and a son just finishing elementary school. While my child care needs were vastly different from those of my colleagues with children in pre-school, still in many ways I planned my days and my semesters around my children’s schedules. In that first post, I noted the many things I no longer needed as an academic parent—“a lactation room, on-site daycare, or reduced work hours to be with an infant . . .. a referral to a good nanny, or a preschool that's open in the summer, or help installing a carseat.” Instead, my needs felt diffuse and undefined, shifting from day to day as we worked out what it meant to pull together five different week-long summer camps for my son while my daughter navigated the wide-open spaces of a gap year and then college. I hoped that perhaps by sharing those needs, and those confusions, I’d be able to navigate them better myself, and to help others who were facing similar issues.

So here I am five years later. My son, a high school sophomore, not only stays home alone when necessary but has managed to make dinner not only for himself but for me when his dad was out of town and I was booked up with all-day meetings. My daughter has survived and thrived, not only her during her gap year but the four years of college, and will graduate next month. And I, having dipped my toe into the waters of administration four years ago when I became the Coordinator of our First-Year Seminar Program, am now jumping in fully: as of June 1, I will be Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences and Director of the Academic Advising Resources Center here at the University of Richmond.

While I can certainly not claim that blogging brought me to precisely this place, it’s clear to me that the regular practice of reflecting on my career has been productive over the last several years. Not only did I become part of a community—of both bloggers and readers—who shared their concerns and their successes here, I also developed a reflective practice that was particularly helpful. Having to report to you, my loyal readers, has forced me to take stock periodically—and I’ve found that fruitful. So it’s not without some irony that I report to you that this will be my last blog post for Mama, PhD. I’ll have to find another way to take stock—and I’m sure my new position will afford me plenty of opportunities for that. But what it will not afford me is the sustained time that I need to write these posts.

These past five years have been busy, eventful, exciting—fulfilling and educational throughout. I’ll miss you, my readers; it’s rare, as you know, that we academics get such immediate feedback on our writing as we can get through blogging. But as I prepare for my new educational adventure I’ll take what I’ve learned from you, and thank you all for the conversation we’ve woven together. Good luck, and keep in touch!



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