Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When I Grow Up, I Want To...

I was doing some major studio cleaning and reorganizing this Sunday when I came back across the cards the girls made me for Mother’s Day. I keep a box in my studio of cards they make me since, more often than not, they make them sitting right there next to me…their little fingers covered with oil pastels and markers while they say “No peeking, Mama!” But these particular cards were made at school. They were those “My Mom…..” fill-in-the-blank kinds of things, like “My Mom has blonde hair and green eyes.” I mentioned my eye-opening moment those cards brought me back in this post. What was the eye opening moment?

On Sarah’s card, one particular line read, “My Mom does not like to fish.” Sure enough, I hate to fish. I have no patience for fishing. If I don’t get a nibble within the first two minutes, I’m done. On that same line, Olivia’s read, “My Mom does not like to have fun so much.” Ouch. Big ouch. Given all the special fun stuff I try to do with them, that one really hurt. When I asked Livvie what she meant, she said, “Well, you’re always working, Mama, so you don’t get to play with us as much as Daddy does.” Amazing the clarity of children. When I looked at it from her perspective, she was exactly right. I don’t get to “play” with them as much as Daddy does, at least not during the week. DH leaves the house at 6:30am every morning, before the girls are even up, so I have the morning duty of getting everyone fed, dressed and to school and work. Guess there’s not a whole lot of “fun” in that. DH picks them up from school about 4pm every afternoon, so when they get home, they spend about 15 minutes on homework before they get to play, take a swim in the alien pod pool, ride their bikes around the backyard, etc. I don’t get home until at least 6pm or 6:30pm on the nights I’m not teaching. Teaching nights, it’s closer to bedtime. But even at 6pm or 6:30pm, that’s just in time to get dinner on the table, review a little homework, take a bath, and then read a book before bed. That’s one thing I’m diligent about: Mama gets to read the bedtime book and put them to bed every night, and we have our little bedtime lullaby that only Mama sings.

I know this isn’t unusual for working moms, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been keeping an eye out for full-time faculty openings for a while now. A full-time faculty position (as opposed to a full-time administrative position combined with part-time teaching) would definitely give me a lot more time. There are a few positions opening up in the fall, and I submitted my application last week. Even though I know a change is needed (no news to my supervisors as I’ve already shared this news with them), I have to admit I submitted that application with mixed emotions. I enjoy teaching, I truly do. Yet I also truly enjoy my current role in Student Life and Leadership Development. I think what I’d miss most if I am able to move into a faculty position is “leading” something. I’ve been in a leadership role for so long that that would be a difficult transition for me. Interesting thing about that, though, is that I’d have no hesitation leaving the formal work force all together, with my only “leadership role” being that of full-time Mom and artist, but that’s not an option for us financially.

These particular positions are also new to the college. With our change to a four-year state college, we’re now approaching college-prep classes a little differently, and that will be the focus of these positions. Whereas our “normal” faculty positions require 15 classroom hours and 15 office hours per week each Fall and Spring term, these positions require 16 classroom hours (since prep classes are four credit hours each) and 16 lab tutoring hours. The 30 vs. 32 hours isn’t the issue as much as the fact that with the new positions, those 16 non-classroom hours are dedicated to tutoring instead of office hours, leaving class prep and grading to whenever you can fit it in. The carrot to balance that? Summers off. My other concern is the flexibility I might lose. Currently, as an administrator, I have ample annual leave and sick leave, so when I need to take a day off to go on a field trip with the girls, visit their school for an awards program, or take a couple days off for an arts festival or retreat, that’s easily done. That’s not so easily done in a faculty position. There is no annual leave or sick leave because you have summers off. These are all things I need to figure out and all questions I’ll have to ask should I be granted an interview. While summers off would definitely be a wonderful thing, are they worth the pay cut and very little flexibility the rest of the year? All things I need to work through.

All I know for sure is that Mama definitely does like to have fun and having more time to do that would be nice. I’ve been trying to look at things objectively. Now, I work some long hours but I have a lot of flexibility. Should I make a switch, I’d have fewer work nights and work weekends away from home coupled with summers off, but less flexibility during the school year and a pay cut. I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do with summers off, like have much more time to make art and expand my Purple Cottage ideas and retreats, which could potentially make up for or even surpass filling in for the pay cut I’d be taking, yet would I then be limited to doing those types of things during the summer, particularly the retreats, because I’d lose flexibility during the Fall and Spring? You see my conundrum? I realize I’m putting the cart before the horse here, but for my sanity, I need to work through these things before the horse gets rigged up. So, oh wise ones out there, what’s your take? If you were in my shoes facing a decision like this, what would you want to be when you grew up, since I guess that is what I'm talking about here. :-)


Leah Virsik said...

Hey Kelly! Tough decision for you… summers off sounds really enticing but I imagine they could go really fast too. What comes up for me is… maybe Sarah and Olivia could have a lot of fun getting fed, dressed and ready for school with your enthusiasm. And your bedtime lullaby and reading sounds awesome! I think it's the daily things that are really important. Time really is an illusion. I enjoyed reading Rice Rreeman-Zachery's take on time in her book "Creative Time and Space Making Room for Making Art". It could be applied not just to art but the things that one deems important. I only read the bit on Amazon but I thought it was valuable.

cath c said...

ouch is right. but i think that sentiment of who is the more fun parent, often comes down to the dad. exactly because of the logisitcal things you mentioned. so first off, you are not alone.

i am not about to tell you what your decision should be, but i commend you for weighing it so well and considering very carefully. you know I am a sahm now, but that was not always the case. nor will it continue to be the case indefinitely. these are the toughest choices we make as a mother, and mostly it comes down to how to divide your time to best suit not only your children, but yourself.

having said all that, i love the summers off idea. yes, it'll be harder for you to make field trips, etc but you will be available to your daughters in the day to day for all that fun you and they seem to be missing now. that is one of the reasons i worked so many years in educational support positions. I was able to be there for my boys when they were not in school.

believe it or not, chris rock said recently, acknowledging his father's role in his life and how he wants to emulate that in his own parenting, "Being there is 80% of the job."

Kelly Warren said...

thanks guys. very good points from both of you. leah, i forget....you haven't met my girls. :-) i've determined that being happy and chipper at 7am is just not possible for sarah. livvie? yes. sarah no, not even when liv and i go in there and wake her up by repeating yelling "GOOD MORNING" at the top of our lungs and then tickling her when she still won't move. but you are correct. it is the daily things that are most important and time is most definitely an illusions.

cathy, the motherly wisdom that comes from you and miranda is always so perfectly said. i love that chris rock quote. thank you, my dear.