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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Motherhood after tenure: End-of-the-semester burnout
May 19, 2011 - 7:58am

As recent fellow bloggers’ posts reflect, many of us are experiencing some form of end-of-the-semester burnout. We’ve been working hard and fast, racing toward the deadline, anticipating a joyful release once grading is done. For many of us in Wisconsin, this spring semester has been particularly eventful and exhausting.

Last Friday, as I rushed to finish grading, faculty here at my campus voted to unionize, despite our governor’s plans to strip unions of most of their power – and to take away faculty’s rights to form a union.

But the glow from that victory and from graduation parties only lasted for minute before we all started feeling the pressure of our summer work. Although I’m always excited for the school year to be over, I’m rarely happier during the summer. Why? Because I pile so many tasks on to the summer that I never feel satisfied come September. It’s been less than a week since I handed in my grades, but I already feel behind. In response to salary cuts, many more of my colleagues are teaching summer courses. Others have already begun ambitious research projects, some are continuing administrative duties, and others are finally able to visit ill parents. Despite common misconceptions, I have not seen any of my colleagues lazily enjoying this first week of freedom from teaching. No one I know is sitting in her backyard drinking a gin and tonic and reading The New Yorker -- of course, this might be due to the unseasonably cool spring we’re having in Wisconsin. But you know what, we should be!

Tonight I took my daughter and her friend to the park after dinner. While they ran in the cool breeze, red-faced and happy, I hugged my arms against my chest and complained about the cold, anxious to get back to my computer.

I hope the rest of you are handling the transition to summer more happily and gracefully than I. For the rest of you, here is a helpful post from the folks at Academic Ladder, on how to combat burn-out.

As for me, on the first warm day I will invite my colleagues over for gin and tonics in my backyard. No shop talk allowed.


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