Thursday, July 31, 2014

priorities and goings on

Hey. What's up?

Before I had kids, people would always tell me I should have kids. I couldn't then. I had to finish my degree. I was just starting my career. I had priorities, you know? The answer would  come back: "Oh, your priorities will change, these things you think matter won't matter anymore." I worried that these people might be right. I didn't want my priorities to change. I wanted to be successful in my goals. I was successful with finishing my Ph.D. And then we had a kid, and my priorities changed. (Go figure!)

The other day I was mowing the lawn. Suddenly it popped into my head that I have a Ph.D. I had forgotten. Well, not forgotten, but honestly my reality now is so far from the reality of 2012, when I graduated.  I don't think about it, and that's a little sad. I worked so hard.

I was going to publish. Haven't.
I was going to change career paths (from staff to faculty). Haven't.
I haven't been to a conference since I was pregnant (and I got so sick on that trip. yuck.).

I would still like to move forward with this, but at the end of the day, when all I want to do is sleep, I don't know where to find the time, energy, or motivation. Honestly, my motivation is devoted to much simpler things, like getting the laundry done or figuring out how to keep a toddler entertained for hours on end. There is a difference between spoiling a child and just being a good parent, attentive to the child's needs, nurturing their growth and wellbeing. To be a good parents, one simply can't continue on as one did before children were in the picture. They are little people. Watching, calculating, thinking, mimicking, demanding, needing, wanting, vocalizing. Not to be cast aside in favor of personal hobbies.

My husband's career has changed, too, and taken off in a bit of a different direction than expected. I'm so happy for him and for what it has meant for our family. But it does afford him much less free time, a bit more travel, and stricter working hours than he once had. He's continuing to write his dissertation, too, which is another big factor. Another baby, really -- one that also needs his time, attention, nurturing.

About 3 months ago, I was contacted and asked to apply for a job with a large, well-known corporation. It sounded like a dream. The pay was twice as much, I would be able to remain local, and corporate Instructional Design was something I was once very interested in. What a great opportunity, a great experience. Then I researched the position further and found out (among other issues) that this company expects long hours from its employees and gives little paid time off in return. Thinking back to last winter, when my daughter was sent home from daycare an average of 1 day per week with some kind of illness, I couldn't see how this type of position would work out for me. One parent needs to be flexible and for now, that parent has to be me.

This summer, I was honored to be asked to teach two summer courses. Each was a 6 week course. One was in my department, and was a masters level class about designing online learning. The other was not in my department -- it was a doctoral level class about assessment, accreditation, and the like.  I love teaching, so I was very grateful for the experience and the opportunity. But it was really, really hard to do with a child in daycare and a husband working long hours. First off, daycare kids get sick a lot. Over the course of the 12 weeks, I've had three illnesses. One was a normal cold, one was a terrible cold in which I lost my voice for a few days, and the third was Hand, Foot, and Mouth. (Supposedly, adults don't usually get this. Of course, I got it. I'm still suffering.) Second, my husband had to take two business trips, meaning I had to move a few classes, change a few days of the class meetings, and/or arrange for someone to pick up my daughter from daycare and watch her while I taught (my classes were in the evening).  And third, I had to teach on my daughter's birthday, which means I saw her for about a half hour that day, total. Sad. And let's not even talk about finding time to grade, provide advice and direction to students, and prepare course materials. This has been a hard, exhausting summer.

I will teach again. I love to, and it challenges me. But I'll be going into it with my eyes open to what kind of commitment it is. When I taught back in 2012, it was extra money and a lot of fun. Now it almost felt all-consuming, and at times insurmountable. Navigating a lot of life as a parent has felt that way. Where there used to be excitement, now there is the warning voice of practicality, reminding me to consider where I will find the time.  Food for thought.