Neither/nor, or how getting a job improved my life

Since I began teaching freshman composition this fall, I no longer fit into any tidy label. I'm a stay-at-home mother (mostly). I'm a working mother (partly). I'm neither fully one nor the other. And you know what--I love it!

I feel so lucky to be able to spend the bulk of my days raising my little children. I also love teaching and keeping current with my academic endeavors. Teaching one class per semester has created the perfect balance for me. Three mornings a week, I slip away to teach my 8 am class. Immediately after class, I exercise at the college gym. Eric meets me on campus at 10 am with all three children. He goes to his office; I go to the locker room with the kids and shower. (Our university athletic facility has a free laundry service, so I never have to tote exercise clothes back and forth from home. Amazing.) Then we're off for our morning activities.

You know what the best part about teaching is for me? 3 days a week I don't have to get the kids up, dressed, fed, brushed, or out the door. It's positively brilliant. Getting my children ready in the mornings is one of my least favorite things, and working lets me skip out of that responsibility. It's a win-win situation for both Eric and me. I get a break from the kids, while he gets more time with them 3 days a week. We're both really happy with our situation.

I''d also argue that this job has improve my marriage. Since Eric and I finished graduate school, our interests and activities have drifted farther apart. My world was increasingly dominated by babies, breastfeeding, toddlers, and preschoolers. My being involved in academia again--albeit as a teacher rather than a student--has given us more common ground. I like being able to ask Eric about what teaching strategy he'd suggest or which books he likes best for a given course. We can discuss grading strategies, groan over grammar errors, and celebrate when we see excellent writing or have a lively class discussion.

I like being in the nebulous area between a stay-at-home mother and a working mother. I recognize how fortunate I am: I get to do something I love and get paid well for it, without sacrificing time with my children. It's a dream situation for me right now.

I have had to give up some things: most evenings, internet time and blogging have been replaced by grading papers and prepping for class. It's a trade-off I'm happy to make, though.


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