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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Drama Mama. The tricky tenth
July 31, 2008 - 8:54pm

Last fall, I began working on a proposal for a panel presentation I wanted to moderate at my annual summer professional conference. When it was accepted I found panelists, created and outline, kept in constant communication with them over the winter months, finalized technical details in the spring and later this week we are finally presenting the fruits of our collaboration. I am very excited. I was also attending the conference early to participate in a workshop. Due to some last minute changes in the scheduling, I was able to arrange a lovely day trip to the Rocky Mountains right before the conference was to begin. My son seemed happy with his cousins when I called, the air on Colorado made me feel healthy and all seemed right in the world.

Until my babysitter called me.

While I was enjoying my brief moment in the mountains, she left a message telling me she would not be able to make two out of the four dates she promised for the week when I returned from vacation. That week I have committed to a writing workshop and academic orientation. I wanted to throttle her. I have so little sympathy for people who break baby sitting commitments.. Come on – how hard is it to say maybe until you have a calendar in front of you? The kicker is that I got her contact information from an online service which cost $100 for the membership fee. Since I am new to the area, finding a replacement is going to be a trial. A trial that I cannot solve until I get back home and yet, will now plague me for the rest of my trip. It did put a rather anxious damper on my mountain adventure, no matter how I tried to let it go. What bothers me more is that I went over these dates more than once with this babysitter. I even showed her my calendar. I chose her out of a list of others because she was a graduate student and I thought that meant she would be more dependable. What continues to irk me is that I misjudged her, that I had ranked her above others because of this idea that working towards an academic degree infers that this person has a greater sense of responsibility.

I work in academia. I should have known better.

With most of the parenting dilemmas I find myself in, I try to remember no matter how much I worry, something always seems to work out in the end. I try to kep in mind that worry never helps and only slows down and/or complicates things. It is, however, very hard to wait for a potential train wreck to occur without some anxiety. What is that old saying, nine out of ten troubles will hit the ditch before they reach you? But what about the tenth! That tricky tricky tenth. The tenth haunts me. The tenth mocks me. The tenth keeps me up nights. The tenth is always looming, no matter how hard you try to shrug it off. And after awhile, all your problems seem like the tenth. There are no ones or nines, just a series of never ending tens. Even as the beautiful Colorado sun sets over the horizon, I cannot enjoy it tonight. The possibility of that tricky tenth floats down from the mountain top and settles itself on my brain, where it will set up camp for the next two weeks.


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