Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Reader Mail Day #3

A third letter comes from Kathleen, a professor on the tenure track with two kids. (You go, girl!) She's been able to manage her family and her work, because her husband is a stay at home dad and because she lives in a relatively affordable area of the country where they can live comfortably on one income. Still, it hasn't been easy, especially since she started her first job shortly after having her second baby.

There were many comical episodes that involved me meeting with a student, racing downstairs for a quick nursing session in the car, kisses on heads, and then a quick tug on my shirt in time to meet the next student. I was really proud of myself at the time, but in retrospect I can see that I wore myself into the ground.

Any working mother has issues with breastfeeding. Friends with corporate jobs have discussed the embarrassment of a noisy electric pump in the ladies room. Women who teach have some additional concerns -- public leaking. When I was breastfeeding, I was so worried about leaking during class that I would stuff extra tissues in my bra. One time I forgot breast pads, so I used sanitary pads. Man, was I stacked!

Kathleen also writes of the benefits of having her husband home with the kids.

It allows me to just skip out the door in the morning without having to worry that everyone is fed and dressed and has all the clothes and food they need for 8 hours of day care. It alleviates much of the guilt I feel about leaving my babies. He feeds them hot, wholesome meals and takes them for fun hikes.

On the other hand, my house is a total mess. Folks who work outside the home may leave a rinsed coffee cup in the sink in the morning and when they get home, the cup is there waiting for them. Me, I come home to a day's worth of detritus--covering the kitchen counter, the living room floor, the kids' room, our room... I'm stuck with the second shift and a morbid fear that a friend will pop in for a visit. It's a small price to pay for a house of happy kids, though, so I'm trying to just deal with it. I can have a clean house in my 40's.

Someday, I'll write about different parenting styles. But not today.

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