This weekend I took a class that has lead me to think about a new career path. People keep asking me what work I would do for free; professorship was it. So, I've been feeling quite pessamistic and just plain sad about the very real possibility that I have so little control over my work life. Training myself and practicing another skill will, perhaps, give me some sense of that.
I heard Laura Schlessinger again this morning talking about her new book about stay-at-home moms, which I find to be so off the mark. First, most of the sahm I know have at least one degree, so railing against the stereotype that they are stupid seems weird to me. Second, I like(d) my work. It was meaningful and was a significant part of my individual identity. I'm sure many women don't need that, but I do. Now that I'm at home with my son, the sudden change is not easy or entirely welcome. We're having a good time, but it's not what I planned.
One of the reasons that I so enjoyed my job (even though it wasn't tenure-track or ideal in other ways) was that the schedule was so flexible. I could go on a field trip or a doctor's appointment whenever I needed to. Most semesters, I had two days a week that I could keep my children at home or pick them up early for an afternoon of hanging out. I had time to read. And in the summers, I was practically a sahm anyway, if I chose to be. I had the best of both worlds. I'm mourning the possible/probably loss of that. That brings me to this article from Inside Higher Ed that is calling my name. It succinctly expresses just what I feel about being pushed out of academia. Even if one of the opportunities I'm waiting to hear from works out, I still feel shocked into the reality that this whole thing isn't exactly what I had in mind. I think that now I'll always feel that academia is a bad marriage, with the divorce papers drawn up and hidden in the drawer, especially since even tenured professors were kicked to the curb in this case; "Never forget" I'll hear the administration saying, "You are expendable!" And yet, can I do anything else? Do I want to?
What Schlessinger doesn't seem to care about is the fact that working wasn't just about money--although for lots of women it's about exactly that--or about societal expectations--although somewhere in this conversation someone should point out the need for workspaces that support working parents instead of making their lives so much more difficult. For me, working was about making my own individual contributions and identity. Where do I put those needs if stay-at-home motherhood is 100% of my life?
7 months ago