Playing Catch-up Won’t Do

When I began graduate school — Z-girl was two. She spent a lot of time back then, alone with her dad. Don is great with that age. I am reminded of this, when I watch Don with B-girl, who will be three very soon.

Back then, I might get up early in the morning and take Z-girl for a walk to Starbuck’s in her stroller. When we returned home I would hand her off to Don, to leave for a day (and night) in the studio. To make-up for the time, I would often spend a long Friday-off with Z-girl, getting caught-up with all she had learned the last week. Catch-up parenting and tag-team parenting worked really well for our well-adjusted first-born.

Jump seven-years later. The mother of three kids now, enjoying the hours professorship has lent me. Weekends are now spent as a busy family of five! We are still tag-team parenting, but only because we now play zone defense.

Since being laid off from my full-time position in April, and juggling classes now at two different colleges, I was thrilled to be offered an interim position at a local liberal arts college for next spring. I would cover classes of the Department Chair, heading on sabbatical. When I interviewed at the school I had a lovely time — I enjoyed meeting all the different fine art professors and it was a gorgeous fall day. Weeks ago I received my contract in the mail and signed and returned it quickly. I was pumped.

Recent events have changed all that.

Today I made a very hard phone call. I mentioned to Don I might be committing professional suicide! I called the Chair. The one planning sabbatical, to say that I was stepping down from my professional obligations for the next year — including their offer. She is  a mother, her children are grown, and she was so kind and concerned — I was emotional and quite honestly can’t remember what I said to her — I remember something about ‘my baby, an MRI, needs much more attention, physical, occupational, speech therapy, seeing a neurologist, need to be proactive’. Ugh.

This will be an interesting time ahead. It will be one step at a time — often two going backwards. My children are the priority and my husband has a greater earning power than I. Plain and simple. I believe if the roles were reversed he would resign.

It was during one of our more emotional conversations of late, when I said, “I think maybe it’s time I stop working and focus on this.”

To which he replied, “I think you should too — but I don’t feel I have the right to say that.”

I know there is a commentary regarding men of my generation and gender roles somewhere here.

I love what I do — the classroom is where I belong professionally. Yet, I will never get this time back. I cannot imagine ever regretting this choice (be it one year, or ten) to focus on baby-K’s development and the lives of all my children. For now, playing catch-up will not do.

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