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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: 2011 by the numbers
January 2, 2012 - 5:13pm

As the new year begins I feel mostly how arbitrary the turning of the year is. The new school year began in August (September for some of you, including both my kids); the western Christian liturgical year, as I noted recently, began in November, and the Lunar New Year won’t come around until later this month.

I would have liked to do the year in numbers in May, when my academic year ended—number of new first-year seminars taught, faculty trained, students enrolled, etc. But last May I was too busy to do that, and now, half-way through the second year of our new program, it just seems moot.

So here are a few other numbers from 2011:

45: number of books I read. This counts only books read for the first time in 2011; I don’t count re-readings, which these days can make up the bulk of my reading. This is slightly fewer than a book a week, of course, and feels like not enough books for an English professor — so I’m going to try to up that number in 2012.

19: number of movies I saw. This number feels really low — again, I don’t count movies that I saw for a second (or third) time, but still, shouldn’t I be seeing more films? With my daughter at home for the next few months (see below) I think maybe I’ll manage that — she’s a big film buff and responsible for a good number of the movies I did actually see. (Her number for last year was 124.)

500: miles driven on the last day of 2011. And, actually, 1000+: miles driven the last three days of 2011. Yes, we did drive up to Connecticut on the 29th and back on the 31st. The reason? See the next number:

80: the birthday my dad's celebrating later this week. I know that’s not a number for 2011, but we celebrated his birthday on December 30th, as that was the day we could get the most people around a table at once.

17: the number of people around the table to celebrate my dad’s birthday. That includes all four of his children, all four of his grandchildren, his two surviving siblings, four in-laws, and a niece. Not too shabby!

There are a few other happy numbers, numbers like

2: weeks we spent on vacation this year, the whole family! And

1: son who started high school this fall. If I were a better mother I’d also have numbers representing his personal records from cross-country, but I actually have a really hard time remembering numbers. Suffice it to say I made it to at least three meets, and got to see him cross the finish line each time. There’s also

1: daughter who has declared her major, started a new group to focus attention on local food on her campus, and elected to spend a semester studying here this spring. I’m not quite sure how she found time to watch all those films (though some, at least, were for classes).

Then there are a few more numbers that I’m trying not to think too hard about right now. Numbers like:

32: days before I am to deliver the paper I still haven’t written, and

9: days before I teach my first class of the spring semester — syllabus also as yet unfinished.

And then one final number:

39: blog posts written for Inside Higher Ed in 2011. Thanks for reading!


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