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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Summer Jobs, Part Two
June 21, 2010 - 9:16pm

I’m delighted to report that my daughter has indeed found gainful summer employment. It’s not full time, but it will do — she’s got a series of childcare gigs lined up that should keep her busy and reasonably well remunerated through the summer.

Now it’s my turn. Having worked all May, I lost a good bit of June to catching up. I did some desultory cleaning in my office, answered a lot of overdue email, and went to a conference. At the conference, as so often happens, I was energized by others’ work, and began to plan. There’s a book project somewhere in the offing, and an article that’s due by November; there are a couple of smaller talks; there’s a syllabus still to develop. Add to that the week of August that I’ll spend doing one more faculty development workshop, and the long weekend (at least) that we’ll be on vacation, and my summer is already fully committed.

But not, alas, scheduled. And there’s the rub. I know what I have to do; now it’s a matter of making the time to do it. And with Nick about to be out of school, and my husband at home, and Mariah only working part-time, there are plenty of distractions — as well as legitimate family events — to keep me occupied. Add to that the need to keep one car free for Mariah’s work, and I have a perfect excuse to stay home and then fall down the rabbit hole that “working from home” can often become.

But I’ve been finding Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s recent columns inspirational in my attempt to build a summer plan. So as of today I have a writing accountability group, and as of tomorrow I’ll have a schedule. A friend who drives in to work has offered to pick me up, and I think we can helpfully keep each other accountable (without increasing global warming by driving another car). I’m trying to build on the momentum of the conference; I’m also trying to keep from being overwhelmed by minutiae when the fall semester begins, so I’ll make sure to answer emails and keep on top of the inevitable adminstrivia that piles up during the summer.

It’s not quite the summer job of my youth, but it is both a break from the routine and a necessary preparation for it — just like those jobs were. And while it doesn’t fatten my bank account as those jobs did, at least it doesn’t, as so many of them did, require a uniform.


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