Saturday, November 3, 2012

Part-time Mama

I want to take a moment to talk about life as a part-time working mom.

Working moms and stay-at-home moms often seem to propose that working part-time is the end all, be all perfect solution to life. I'm not so sure, though. I often wonder about going to work full-time or quitting my part-time gigs to focus on the kids full-time. Right now, I'm in the part-time limbo. Honestly, I'm trying to decide if I'm happy, and maybe writing through things will help.

I'm an adjunct faculty member at Molloy College, where I teach two classes. I'm teaching Intro Sociology again. This third time around, and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it. Actually, I'm probably overly confident, since there have been several classes where I walk in with only a vague idea of what we're supposed to cover for the day and the notes I prepared last year. I'm also teaching an upper-level class, Social Psychology. I love the material that we're covering in that class - identity, group interaction, attraction and relationships, anger and prejudice - all super fascinating. But it is hard to keep up with the planning! Flying by the seat of my pants hardly even covers it. I'm scrambling, constantly. The only thing on my side is that I feel much more confident in the classroom, so even if I'm panicking on the inside ("How am I going to make this discussion stretch another 20 minutes?!"), I think I'm better about appearing calm. I get pretty good vibes from both my Intro and Social Psych class.

But I'm not just a teacher. I'm a teaching mom, and that's what makes life hard. On teaching days, I get myself and the kids ready, pack my lunch, and head out the door at the same time as Chad. (We have a really fantastic part-time nanny who stays with the kids all day.) I commute an hour and a half, via train, then shuttle, and the shuttle gets to the campus just in time for me to eat lunch while pumping. I then have 15 minutes to make copies and get to class. My classes are back-to-back, then I rush back to pump before I need to catch the shuttle to catch the train. Then, I go home, make dinner, give baths, read books, and tuck kiddos into bed - whew! Makes me tired to think about it.

A teacher's tasks are only half (or a third) classroom time, especially when teaching a class the first time around. Prepping for class, writing exams, and grading are done at home, during nap time or TV time.

My other part-time job is editing, also done at home, often after the kiddos go to sleep. This is the time of the year when I get the most freelance editing requests for academic journal articles, grant proposals, personal statements, all sorts of stuff. I like the editing, though, so I don't want to say no!

Oh, yeah, and because I'm a home-maker, I have to squeeze housework, finances, cooking, etc in there. One advantage of being a NYC mom is that we have a wash-and-fold laundromat downstairs, and I often order groceries to be delivered. So, really, I'm quite luckily in that regard.

But life has gotten a bit easier in the last couple of weeks because I decided to transition Ewan onto formula. It's always a wrestle with guilt no matter when you wean, but I decided that breastfeeding for 6 months was pretty good. I forget how much easier it is to bottle feed rather than breastfeed! I lay him on the couch, hand him his bottle, and he holds it himself while I work next to him or read a book to Cora.

So, such is the life of a part-time working mom. Is this the best combination? If I worked full-time, I'd have the nanny do things like clean the house and make dinner. If I stayed at home, I wouldn't have to do class prep or edit during nap time or after bed. Being part-time means I don't have the benefit of either, but I have the responsibilities of all the above. Is this the best way of life?

I'm not sure.

But I know that what I do want to work on is worrying less about all the tasks, getting done what I can, but making time to pause an enjoy little moments with my kids - playing legos and teaching letters to Cora, making silly "bababababa" noises with Ewan. Those moments are important, and I don't want to miss them. But I also love having a job of some sort. Oh, modern motherhood!

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