mothering bodies ~ adoption ~ alt.gender ~ parenting ~ work/life balance

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer's Off!

I'm a college professor, so I start getting one persistent question every year around the first week of May:

"Are you off for the summer now?"

The answer to this question is rarely the quick and easy "yes" which I'm sure is expected. Yes, classes are over but no, I'm not completely untethered either.

Articles abound in the trades like this one in The Chronicle of Higher Education and like this one in Inside Higher Ed on the socially invisible and mostly unpaid work that educators do during the summer. (Many educators have 9- or 10-month contracts and are paid for 9 or 10 months of work per year. The expectation is that all work is able to be completed in 9 or 10 months, but reality rarely bears out expectations.) With respect to a wide breadth of variation among disciplines, institution types, and individual faculty contracts and career paths, in general we plan the next fall and spring courses, work on our research and writing, volunteer, complete administrative tasks, apply for grants or project funding, schedule our annual medical appointments, take family vacations like lots of other folks, and (gasp!) many educators teach during the summer.

My academic program does not require year-round teaching, so I choose to be home with my two elementary school-age sons in the summer while I attend to certain administrative, research, and academic tasks. My summer schedule is thus a soupy mish mash of work and play that any working parent--and particularly any parent who's also a teacher or professor--will recognize.

My honest answer to that persistent question above is that if you see me at the county pool, then I'm off; but if my kids are playing at your house, then you can bet your last nickel I'm working. A brief slice of my summer usually looks something like this:

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Hi Dr. Brown,
I'm a new incoming student and I didn't attend my summer orientation. Can you help me register for all of my classes remotely? 
Thanks! :) 



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"Mommy, what's that lady on the TV doing?"
"Yoga."
"Are you supposed to be doing what she's doing?"
"Unh--yes."
"Her leg's higher in the air than yours is."
"Well--"
"I'll bet that's because you're a lot older than she is."
"Now hold that pose..... Exhale....... Let all tension go....... All worries,..... all cares--"
"GIVE IT!"
"No! IT'S MINE!"
SLAP!
"MOMMY!"


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Dear Dr. Brown, 
Would you write me a letter of recommendation for my graduate school application? It's due next week.
Thanks! :)



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1pm: Cole piano
4:15 pm: Michelle karate
4:20 pm: Connor karate
5pm: Cole karate


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Dear Dr. Brown,
The article manuscript you promised to review for our journal is due in two weeks. We look forward to receiving your feedback. 
Sincerely, 
Editor


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"Who wants to go to the Pizza Hut at Target for lunch?"
"We do! We do!"
"Great. Let's get cheese pizzas!"
"I wanna big pretzel."
"I think you should get the pizza, Connor. It's yummy and you need the protein."
"NO! I HATE PIZZA. I WANNA PRETZEL!"
"Alright, fine. Get the pretzel."
"Mmm, this pizza is good, Mommy."
"I'm glad you like it, Cole."
"I WANT PIZZA, TOO! Mommy, Cole won't give me any of his pizza! Everyone's being mean to me!"


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Dear Dr. Brown,
We cannot locate sufficient copies of the first book you plan to teach in the fall. Please provide another title as a substitute. 
Thank you, 
University Bookstore


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Dear Curriculum Task Force, 
Please review the attached draft proposal for our curriculum revision and suggest any necessary revisions. Our deadline for the final proposal is in one month.
Thanks, Team Leader


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"Mommy, I read a whole chapter book today and it was long. I've earned screens for like 18,000 hours."
"Mommy, I drew you a picture. It's me and you and the heart means 'I love you'."


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Dear Dr. Brown, 
Thank you for submitting the requested article revisions. We look forward to reviewing them.
Sincerely,
Editor



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Clink! "Here's to the first night of our vacation, Hon."


 * * *


Off? Well, sort of.

But that's fine with me. I love my work and I love the change of pace that summer affords. In fact, summer's my favorite season. Even if I don't completely live the myth of the carefree summertime college prof, I get enough of it. Even now, I'm sitting on my front porch listening to the birds sing as I write this post. My dogs are conked out on the floor next to me, oblivious to the intermittent whine of a buzz saw down the block, slicing two-by-fours for the new house going up. I can smell rain in the air. In an hour, the boys will be home from a play date and we're going to hit the library, but I'll finish reviewing that curriculum proposal draft before then.