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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Pause
February 7, 2011 - 9:28pm

My daughter Mariah used to have a Spanish teacher who would quell a restive class by commanding them to “press the pause button!” They all knew what he meant, and it (sometimes) worked. I’ve often wanted to try something like that myself — not with noisy teenagers, but with my life. With committee work, administrative duties, teaching, grading, reading, and writing, sometimes I lose track of myself for a while and simply move on automatic pilot. When that happens it’s time to “press the pause button.”

So this past weekend that’s what I did. After teaching Friday I got on a bus and headed north a couple of hours and met up with my sister, who was on a rare solo East Coast visit for a conference. We ate well, walked all over the place in the cold and rain, talked, slept in, and generally enjoyed ourselves for a day and a half. I read two (non-required) books, did some knitting, and even got some exercise.

Often I’m afraid to take time off, afraid that I’ll get even more behind, that I’ll somehow miss something by being away. I did, in fact, miss a few things at home, including my son’s high school entrance exams. So be it. His dad made sure he got there in plenty of time, with sharpened pencils and a snack, and he seems to have survived the ordeal. Really, I’m not indispensable.

Not only am I not indispensable, but time away is refreshing, and it can make me more efficient. I came in to the office today ready to go — and found that little had backed up in my absence anyway. There are still a few loose ends from last week — some grading, a little more reading — but I’m feeling ready to tackle it now. Just a brief pause — and I’m back on the job.


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