Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trying to Honor My Emotions while Focusing on What I Can Control

So, there's a lot going on right now -- and as is usual probably for all of us, that which has been most tumultuous is pretty much unbloggable. But beyond that, I've been feeling pretty hemmed in by my life lately. AL drives me to work, then I'm inside my building teaching and running around until pretty much the second that AL comes to pick me up. Then we pick up Tot, and I'm mom again. What I'm saying is that I get very little time to myself. I guess this is what my chair meant when s/he said that being on the tenure track and having kids at the same time takes discipline. What's made it worse the last few days is that I've been grading, grading, grading -- and so even when I'm home, I'm holing myself up in the bedroom trying to get stuff done. I really don't feel well in my body and know that the answer is going to have to be to get some exercise, but I'm really struggling to figure out when I'm going to be able to do that. I know I'm not completely insane, because a colleague who is also junior faculty says that she doesn't know how I manage at all, because she's running around like a beheaded chicken without a child. Still, I'd really like to live to see my child grow up. And I really feel like I'm run down in a serious way. I'd rather not wait until the heart attack happens. But when? When am I going to fit in some exercise? And how without putting the entire household out? I'm sure that this one is going to take someone else to figure it out, someone who is not staying up late blogging after grading after a particularly hellish day.

Sometimes I don't know whether I'm an idiot for the choices I've made. I guess that's not a very productive thought just now though.

So I'm going to meet with my mentor about the big picture of what I'm doing from now until I go up for tenure. I have to say that lately I've been dealing with the minutiae, really just running from thing to thing and hoping it's enough to keep everyone happy. (Can I just indulge in my bleak mood for one second and say that my running around lately has not been focused on whether I'm happy? But then, that may not really be fair. I'm happy when I'm looking at the six goslings following their parents. I'm happy when I look into Tot's face. Sometimes I feel a wave of love for my life; I'm just tired now. And achy. And dispirited.) So the question of what I want to accomplish and how my goals for P&T fit into that has been interesting and productive. While I thought last year when I was writing out my plan that I really would write the weird fat book where I discuss three different related heads of the hydra, I've thought lately that even though the weird Three-Headed Hydra book would be super-cool, and there would definitely be productive and cool stuff to see when I put the heads together, it really would short-shrift each Hydra Head. And because of stuff going on in my midst lately, it's clear I have even more to say than I thought about one particular Hydra Head. Even in the diss, this Hydra Head was pushing at 50+ pages; one of my readers commented that he thought that the overstuffed chapter probably suggested that there was a book in there waiting to come out. So now I'm thinking of writing the obvious and more conventional book: One-Headed Hydra. It's hard to figure out whether it would actually sell, but I'm not angling for the book by tenure, only a realistic plan for articles by tenure.

There's another set of concerns I'm interested in -- and these I'm sort of collecting into a second book. So I can write aspects of either and still feel like I have a trajectory. I like this. I like feeling like there is a plan. Like I actually have something to say to my mentor. This is exciting.


Maude said...

this might sound dumb, but what about yoga? or pilates, or both? you can get a dvd and do them at home in the morning before people get up. of course, that probably means getting up earlier than you want to, or doing it before bed (although I'm much better with doing it in the a.m.). On nice days you can take tot for a walk. I know it's easier said than done, but I think you're right. You've got to do something. The SB started doing yoga at night after work and his back problems have gone away, he's lost inches in his waist, gained strength in his shoulders, and it seems to help him deal with the stress of Afghanistan.

I will admit that I'm exhausted at the beginning of week two on the thing I've been doing, but seriously, my stress level has decreased so much--I'm not sure you'd recognize me as the same person. You should start off slow--30-60 minutes three times a week, either the days you teach or the days you don't. But you've got to hit rock bottom first I think. I had to. It won't work if you're not ready. Good luck. We should skype soon!

Ink said...

I love that you wrote yourself to "This is exciting" by the end of the post. A true warrior, you.

The complexities and exhaustions that come along with trying to stay on top of both academe and motherhood? Crazy. And I understand completely where you are coming from. One thing I finally did was lessen the grading load, and that helped a bit. I still have them write the same amount but I grade it wholly rather than individually (have them give me a folder with all responses twice a term instead of week by week). For what it's worth.

It gets more manageable as the kids get older and can do more for themselves, promise.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I'm exhausted just reading this. Poor you! I hope that summer coming is going to give you a bit of a break. I know that I always feel better with exercise, but I've been out of it for a while too. Hmph.

feMOMhist said...

I shoot for "fulfilled" rather than "happy" these days. I know all to well that hamster on a wheel sensation of parenting young children, attempting to earn tenure, and not letting down students. I'm fortunate that at TTLAC the expectations for tenure are low so I've pushed the monograph until post tenure sabbatical. It was a hard choice and I feel awful when I look at the CVs of colleagues, but you said just what I feel, I want to see my children grow up. Books aren't going anywhere and no one is going to write exactly what you would, but time marches on.