GenX women in higher ed from around the globe

It’s 4:30 in the morning, do you know where your work/life balance is?

In A Day in the Life, Guest Blogger on 2010/03/17 at 09:00

A dear colleague of mine and I were talking the other day about a couple of exciting things that have happened concerning recent developments with my research.  She looked at me and very thoughtfully proclaimed, “There is no way you can do all that you are doing so well – you must be magic.”  After I hugged her and told her that I had always known that I was a changeling, I felt nauseous.  Wait a second, how am I doing all that I am doing?  And maybe more importantly, should I be doing all of this?  Let’s look at my life – a day in the life of a mom on the tenure track and see how it all happens.

The characters: M – devoted husband/father; D – 2.5 year-old son; me – Assistant Professor/mom/wife/daughter/sister/etc.

4:30 am – I am up, checking emails, etc. As we know, these crazy millennial students email at all hours of the day and night.

5:30 am – M’s alarm goes off. No interaction takes place as he is not a morning person and is best left alone at this time of day.

6:00-7:00 am –  Some time in this hour my son D wakes up,  typically yelling about how hungry he is.

6:30 am – M is out the door.  There is a little more interaction than in the previous hour.  Ah, romance and the married couple. (Another post for another time).

Between the time D wakes up and 7:15 am – Feeding and dressing D and coaxing him into trying to use the potty. Put D in front of the TV (don’t judge) so that I can get dressed, fed, and well, all of that other stuff that needs to happen to turn me from super-mom to super-professor.

7:30 am – Into the car and off to the daycare. Drop D off at daycare.  Bittersweet but the best thing for everyone involved.

7:30-8:45 am  –  Back into the car and drive the commute from Hell.

8:45-9:20 am – Prep (?) for my first class  – Gender and Politics.

9:30-10:50 am – Class (woohoo!). Thank god for teaching.

11:00-12:20 pm  – Meeting or office hours and maybe if I am lucky, some food that I call lunch.

12:30-1:50 pm – Teaching class number 2 (woohoo!) – American Public Policy.

2:00-5:30  pm – Depends on the day – meetings, meetings, or maybe some meetings.  I’m a member of Faculty Council, a NEASC co-chair, pre-law advisor for the institution, internship coordinator for both the department and a college-wide program, so I meet a lot.

6:00-7:00 pm– Back in the car – not so bad at this time of night.  And I get to make hands free phone calls and catch up with and catch up with friends, family, and whomever I haven’t talked to in a while.  Which might as well be everyone.

7:15 pm  – Home to read D stories before bed.  If I am lucky, food.

7:30-10 pm  – D is in bed. I am back on the computer.  Remember that research thing I mentioned before: this is when I do that.

10:15-10:30 pm – Talk to M.  It is amazing how much quality conversation you can have in 15 minutes.

10:30 pm – Sleep, hopefully.  More likely than not, rest with the occasional sleep thrown in.

Yes, this is a crazy life, but I love this life.  I am a better mom because I work and a better academic because of my child and the time demands that he places on me.  Since he has come around, my research has flourished, my teaching has been rewarded, and I can actually find files when I need them. I was honest with my chair about the time management crunch, therefore I get to work from home one day a week. This usually means I take care of D until he naps and then I do work. As far as weekends go, this time is usually weekend time – which is great! To be fair, this whole balance thing is a lot easier when someone balances it with you.  On my husband’s schedule, the time between 3-7 includes making dinner and lunch for the next day and picking D up from daycare. He is truly a co-parent in this deal.

So what have I learned?  Yes, I should be doing this.  I have found not balance, but pretty close to what could be described as fulfillment in two very important parts of my life.  To me, being fulfilled often means that there can be a bit extra at certain times, to fill in when you miss things, like a conference because you are pregnant — or material for a funny story when you are at a conference.

This is not a zero sum gain.  It’s just my life.

Leanne Doherty

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Leanne Doherty is many things, but for the purposes of this piece, is an assistant professor, wife, mom, former college athlete, sister, daughter, first generation college student, and Pisces.  This is her first attempt at this thing the kids call “blogging”.

(editor’s note: Leanne is an Assistant Professor of American Politics at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in the USA.  Her research focuses on the intersection of athletics and political leadership.)

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  1. Hey, L
    I appreciate this glimpse into the madness, but is it really all that loveable? The people are for SURE, the job is USUALLY, but the life? I have a similar sitch, but instead of thinking how much I love this life, I think – hey, what gives? Why is it that a professional job can’t fit within the bounds of 40 hours a week (rising work expectations without rising salaries is another dimension) and why is it that the only house many of us can afford requires a giant-ass commute that eats away our leisure time? Social speed up isn’t good for us! Thoughts?

    I’m channeling C. Wright Mils here but can’t help thinking that these “personal troubles” add up to a public issues – for individuals, for families, for workplaces, and communities.

    This isn’t a slam on the messenger, but a commiseration. This isn’t easy, for anyone!

  2. Hey S,

    C. Wright who? :)

    I guess I was trying to get at the heart of the should questions. Should I still be working? Should this be the career path I should stay on?

    Is it all wine and roses? Heck, no. However, for me, I think I relatively have it good. I definitely don’t have it easy. I’m more than frazzled all of the time. I don’t know – I like frazzled.

    Anyway, you need to tell me what you mean by social speed up.

  3. Leanne

    Thanks again for writing! I agree with Sarah that this life is crazy for all of us. BUT – I like what you wrote because I felt as if you were saying you that you are really glad that you didn’t decide on Career or Baby but BOTH – which I think is key. If both are important to a person, the thirties are a crucial time period (for both) and women often feel forced to choose one over the other. When I read your post, the message I got was – Even though it’s crazy, I am so happy that I made the decisions I made. However, I do think we need more support – the simple fact that we don’t have universal day-care is insane. It is: 1- extremely expensive – infant care starts at about $15,000 per year- 2-hard to find – we were on a waiting list for 2.5 years until we got into our top choice and by then, it was preschool not infant care, and 3-rarely convenient to both home and one or two workplaces. Ok, that’s my rant.

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