Sunday, April 11, 2010

Survived the First Week, the Second Will Be Better

So I made it through the first week. It was an absurdist nightmare: I was sick, had pretty much lost my voice, and got my period (I know TMI) all on the first day of my classes. As I was sitting there in my office pumping, the words of a colleague kept ringing in my head: this colleague gets the same amount of research done whether s/he teaches or not. Meanwhile, I was sitting there dealing with all these things that my colleagues don't deal with: pumping, periods, getting sick because my son is a bacterial and viral sponge at his daycare. No, I don't get the same amount of research done whether I'm teaching or not. As a good friend of mine said when she had kids, this is just the time in my life when I don't get a lot done.

That said, I've been trying to get a lot done. My major victory? I finished prepping for my Monday courses last night. (Okay, a lame way to spend a Saturday night, but whatever.) I had a terrifically long list (the list is already a victory) on Friday that I managed to get through most of. This weekend when I'm freed up from Tot duty, I take out the list and see what I have energy for. So far, working on research has not gotten done, though it is on the list. I've got to work on that, first because I said I'd have a piece for an edited collection for June 1, second because research is not going to do itself.

So I have all sorts of craziness going on this quarter: a class I've taught before, an elective I haven't taught before, an eight-week professional development course I'm taking, and a bunch of tasks associated with my upcoming annual review, this article due June 1, my sister's wedding, working at the CSA. Of course, all this stuff is already conflicting with each other: the first CSA meeting is during the professional development course. Sigh. So I'm trying to be more organized and forward-thinking that usual.

I've been worried that I don't actually work enough, because the days I don't go to campus, I really do spend most of my time taking care of the Tot. So I've been watching the actual hours I spend when he's awake and asleep doing work. Yesterday, it was about four hours. If I do that every day I'm not on campus, then I'm definitely working 40 hours per week. 40 hours per week of actual work (rather than just being on campus) seems totally reasonable; of course, it also means I have practically no time for anything else, but what else is new. It also doesn't account for all those times I'm nursing or chasing Tot down but thinking about the best approach to teach Concept A in my course. Most people get to do that productive daydreaming in their offices; I get to do that while picking little green monkeys off the floor. (Of course, when I start getting piles of papers to grade, this will all change, I'm sure.)

So I'm determined to get research done in my weekly work schedule. (Writing daily, while ideal and the best thing to do, is just not practical for the working mom.) Right now, I still have this Very Important Article to read and take notes on, the same article I've been promising myself I'd read for the last couple months (while I was worrying over my conference paper). This last week -- the first of the quarter -- was a weirdo, a one-off, being sick and everything. Even Tot's daycare was weird. But I am going to get research done this upcoming week. I'm determined.


Horace said...

Re: getting a lot done. Never forget that pumping, grocery shopping, child care, etc, IS getting a lot done. Just not writing.

While the writing is important of course, one must never begin to think of oneself as deadweight or a slacker simply because we are doing other kinds of work. Parenting is labor, but it doesn't show up in a tenure review or on an annual report.

The point is, don't lose sight that you ARE working hard, and that the writing will find its place in there.

So, anyway, I'm putting up my writing goals today, and hope we can make something work out to keep each other on track. I'll be pulling for you!

Earnest English said...

Thank you, Horace. Parenting IS hard work -- harder than academic work, I think, because there's no way of calling in uninterested for a mental health day! ;) Also, as my mentor Peppy Advisor said to me a long time ago (and she ought to know with a very sick kid) that sometimes it's a joy to go to work because the rules, goals, and tasks are comparatively clear.

How to squish in the research/writing? I dunno. Tot is sick again. Maybe Friday?

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