Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Part-Time Everything

At the moment, I'm in a week off between the madness. (I was asked at the last minute to teach a summer session course.)

I've been reflecting a lot on all of the junk that is on my plate that never seems to get off said plate. I think it comes down to being a part-time worker, a part-time SAHM, and never feeling 100% like I'm in the right place, doing the right things.

When I'm at work, I'm checking my phone for text messages about the Bug. When I'm at home, I'm looking at the same phone for e-mails from students and/or administrators regarding work stuff. If I was a full-time SAHM, sure I'd be looking at mother's day out programs, but so I could go knit or run, or take a spin class and shower in peace. Instead, I'm looking at these programs in order to have a day or two per week to work on writing my dissertation. I haven't been to the yarn shop in ages, and the last time I was there, I basically bought 2 balls of yarn I needed desperately, then talked for about 20 minutes while knitting a total of 2 rows and keeping the Bug out of the cashmere. (They have a strict you-drool-on-it-you-buy-it policy. I have 2 balls of merino sock yarn on account of this policy. I can't afford cashmere. I do think it is a little unfair that the cashmere laceweight is almost exactly at Bug height.)

I know there are plenty of full time working moms and stay-at-home moms who are jealous. The full-time mommies are jealous because of the time I get to spend with the Bug, the SAHMs are jealous because I get to talk to grown ups and I'm mostly able to remember not to talk about poopy. (Well, except when I have a fresh, steaming pile of student research papers.)

But. There's that old saying "Jack of all trades, master of none." I feel like that's where I am. Because every time I forgo some educational game with the Bug in favour of marking papers while she plays with the army of plastic toys that have taken over our home and Sprout plays on the TV, I feel like a bad mom. Every time I don't clean my kitchen and take the Bug for a run and then some swinging at the tot lot, I feel like a bad wife. Every time I hold onto a pile of student papers for an extra couple of days because I went grocery shopping instead of mark them, I feel like a bad professor.

I feel like I'm stretched in 1000 different directions.  I feel like I don't do anything as well as I could, and then (evidence of my crazy) when someone offers to help, I have trouble accepting because I feel like by accepting because I'm afraid that it might make me some sort of failure. Because I feel like I'm not living up to any of my roles 100%, I feel like I screw up a lot. Of course, I already felt like I screw up a lot. As the owner of what I will call an unreliable brain, I've spent most of my life internalizing the message that my brain fails me all the time, and from there, I often conflate events to "it is all my fault and I'm a hopeless screw-up."

Feminism sold us a bill of goods. It was quickly transformed from "women should be able to choose their role in the household" to "women should be able to do it all." Somehow, I bought it hook, line, and sinker. I learned from Martha Stewart that I should be able to manage my household perfectly, while also running my multi-million dollar empire and wearing pearls. I've gotta let that go.

Monday, May 9, 2011

TV Moms

So here's where I admit it. I'm a reality TV junkie.

Sort of. I've never been a big fan of the sort of reality TV where somebody gets voted off the peninsula or whatever every week, and despite the fact that I would like to do an adventure race someday, I have never really enjoyed the shows where they drop someone off in the middle of nowhere with a sponsored cellphone, a camera crew, and $10 to see what happens.

What I am a fan of is the sort of reality TV that looks a little like someone's real life... but is enough removed from mine that I can judge them from a safe distance. This is why I like almost the entire "Real Housewives" series. (I'm not crazy about the New Jersey housewives. It's like Bravo's casting call included "must be a stereotype of New Jersey tackiness while not being quite as trashy as those 'Jersey Shore' kids.) But give me the "Real Housewives of Orange County" or the "Real Housewives of New York" and a drinky-drink and I'm a happy mama.

I was watching the "Real Housewives of New York" spin-off "Bethany Ever After..." and I was struck by something. Of all of these shows, her life looks the most like mine... she struggles to find balance, she has fights with her husband, she never seems to have enough hours in the day. And yet she somehow finds time to go out with her husband, go to the spa, and never has complained about how much baby sleep is a royal pain in the arse. I must be flawed if I complain, right?

But then I realized something. I expect everything in my life to look like the life of a TV mom. and Frankel struggles to make it all work and she has a multi-million dollar income, a assistant who works out of an office in Frankel's home, a live in nanny, and make up and hair artists who make her pretty any time she has to appear in public. I have.... well, I have a dog, who thoughtfully cleans the highchair after the Bug finishes eating. Also, I don't have an editing director who picks the interesting funny parts of parenting rather than the pain-in-the-arse exhausting parts to show.

I'm in it all the time.

Oops. There's the chatty sweet girl waking up on the monitor.

I wonder why they don't show poopy diapers on TV?

(Oh, and Skinny Girl Margaritas are awesome!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Miss Being a TA

Before the Bug was born, I had what was, in some senses, the perfect job. While it paid almost nothing, it also had almost zero real responsibility. There was enough busy work to leave me feeling as though I had earned my paycheck, but not so much that I was truly overburdened.

Now that I am fancy-pants adjunct instructor of meaningless-liberal-arts-whatever, however, I have all the responsibility I used to so gleefully upward delegate. Grades, curves, all of this are 100% up to me, which is kind of scary. Also in my corner are the 10.000 whiny e-mails that will go like this:

Student: I don't understand why I got an F in your class. I came to class, I did pretty well on the tests.
Me: Well, actually, Student, you did okay on the tests, but you failed to turn in any of the written work.
Student: I didn't know it was assigned.
Me: It was listed on the syllabus, mentioned in class, and an assignment sheet was posted to the course website. 
Student: It's not fair. I'm telling, and I'll do what I have to to get my grade changed to the grade I think I deserve. 

I so wish this was an example was an exaggeration, but sadly, not even a little. Indeed, I might be representing the Student in this exchange as though they were being more reasonable and mature than they actually will be when the excrement hits the fan.

Therefore, I miss my old job. Seriously. I have no desire to deal with any of this. I want to head into summer blissful and ignorant of what a terrible and unfair human being I am. Growing up sucks.