I haven't been entirely honest lately.
That's not to say that I've been lying to you. The things I write about my children here are true, and I think, worthy of sharing. Like all parents, I like to show off. And all my complaining about being tired, that's true, too. I couldn't make that up if I tried. and I'm too tired to try. I'm not apologizing for any of this, mind you. It helps me to talk about being a parent and I like telling these kinds of stories. Sometimes being a parent to The Children is really difficult, and other times it's just plain ridiculous, but it's always where I want to be. Like this afternoon, enjoying the first day of spring.
I'm occupying an unfamiliar place at the moment. There are things that I know: I recognize Matt, Alyce and Shira. I know my family and that feels good. It the rest of the world that feels unfamiliar, and by "world" I mean my own tiny piece of it, not that big world that is certainly unfamiliar and too often a scary and confusing place. Tonight, right now, it's my own selfish world I'm concerned with, because lately this world of mine has felt a bit overwhelming.
I've been in school since the beginning of time, and even when the work was hard, it was safe. I was given this cozy space to think and learn and write (and just so you don't think it was all rainbows and unicorns, there were plenty of tears along the way, too) and I could do so with a clear vision of what I wanted to the future to look like. I could really see myself as a professor, looking much like those mentors I had learned from so many times in the past. When I married Matt, our futures melded seamlessly. We would both find work in academia, even if that meant some wiggling around (that's the technical term for the negotiating and compromising that comes with two scholars in the same field finding a job at the same school). There would be challenges, but everyone faces challenges. We could do this.
It turns out that we won't be doing this. I stepped away from my graduate program before completing my PhD, and so for the time being I've closed those doors. I no longer want that future, no matter how much self-doubt I feel from time to time about my decision. And Matt? He's leaving academia, too. My gifted, nerdy, talented (and handsome) husband has tried for three years to find a position in a discipline where there are simply not enough jobs. And by not enough I mean that there are like three jobs. In North America. Sure, Matt could find short-term contract work (schools rarely turn down the opportunity to hire professors on the cheap!), but that isn't what we want for our family. We like things like health insurance and the breathing space to reasonably expect that our job to last more than one semester.
You see, we have this wonderful little family, and want to provide for everyone. We even want to provide enough to add some more to this family. So this means that we need a new plan. Our old plan was a good one, but as it turns out, it's just not for us anymore.
So this brings me back to that unfamiliar place I mentioned earlier. I have trouble remembering a time when I wasn't working toward my goal of the PhD. Yes, I've really been in school that long. I have spent a little time trying on the new goal of being a teacher, seeing how things fit, and there's a chance that's the next step that I take. But now with Matt also deciding to leave the academic world, it feels as though the stakes have changed. In so many ways it feels as though we have been given this incredible freedom to choose anything we want. We can live anywhere and take any job.
But if I'm honest, I feel a bit paralyzed by all this freedom, and I've been hiding this paralysis from you. Instead I've chosen to share what I know for sure: that Alyce and Shira are the greatest, silliest, most delicious children in the world. But this blog is also about carving out some space for myself to figure some things out. You know, little things, like what I'm going to be when I grow up and how I'll pay for The Children's college tuitions.
But not to worry, I couldn't stop talking about Alyce and Shira if I tried.