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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Some Things I've Learned So Far This Semester
February 1, 2010 - 9:51pm

Today was a snow day of sorts and tomorrow's another one, so I'm feeling a bit behind. I've been thinking, though, about what I've learned so far this semester — here's a start:

1) Startitis doesn't work when you make a big mistake near the beginning of a project but don’t notice it until the end. Ask me how I know this.

2) Administrative tasks expand to fill the time allotted, and then a little more. My husband's formula for figuring out how long it will take to get a table in a restaurant is 2n+5, where n=however long the person up front told you it would take to get a table. This may also be a useful formula for the accomplishment of administrative tasks, where n=how much time you think you have.

3) Prep for teaching, on the other hand, takes exactly as much time as allotted, especially if you allot the time just prior to class. As me how I know this, too. (And, yes, I did actually learn this some time ago, but I do keep learning it over and over.)

4) One of the perks of my new position coordinating our First Year Seminar program is that I have some administrative assistance. This is beyond delightful, truly — it is wonderful to have someone keep some of the seemingly endless lists for me, and to manage some of the data that I've been collecting. However, it's now clear to me that explaining to someone else what you want done runs the risk of taking as long as doing it. Thankfully, I have truly excellent assistance right now — so far having help has absolutely been a time-saver, not a time-sink. But I've had to get considerably more organized than is my wont in order to make that help work. (Yes, this is a good thing — and another learning experience.)

So there's what I've learned so far this semester. And I should say, too, that I'm delighted on my son's behalf that he's finally got a "real" snow day. The last snow we had fell the last day before winter break, so the fact that the city shut down for a few days made no difference to him — he was on break anyway. The snow that fell here Saturday similarly shut everything down both yesterday and today — but today was already a teacher work day and therefore wasn't a "real" snow day. Thanks, however, to a limited snow-removal budget in the city, it's clear that the school buses won't be moving tomorrow, either, so he has another day off, and this one feels like a gift. Luckily I, too, have a "househusband" who can stay home with Nick and take him sledding (as they did today) and supervise homework (ditto) so I can keep going in to the office, and learning on the job.


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