October 9, 2014

The second time around...

Kirkland Hall, Vanderbilt University

I have been trying to find the time to update the blog, especially with the big life changes going on, but I'm finding it hard to stay awake. Exhaustion comes in many forms, I'm learning. There is the kind that leaves you totally emotionally and mentally spent --as in the kind I felt most days while a stay-at-home mom. And there's the kind I feel now--the kind that is maybe more physical in nature and also laced with a lot of personal satisfaction. Not that staying home with kids is not personally satisfying, but it's inherently not the point. You do it because it's what you think is best for your child and you do it without ever getting the satisfaction of your child knowing the sacrifices you've made.

This working full-time on the other hand, is inherently good for me. As much as I feared it and even sometimes avoided it, I am really enjoying it. Yes, it has been challenging and not without moments of doubt and uncertainty. But for the most part, we are all adjusting well. Also, I love getting dressed in the morning in something besides sweats or work-out clothes. I love drinking my coffee on the way to work while listening to grown-up music or NPR (no more "horse tunes" or "free to be you and me," Hooray!) I love seeing and talking to adults all day. And I love coming home and picking up my smiling girl who runs to the door and squeals with delight upon seeing me. Our time together is now more precious because it's squeezed into a few intense hours in the morning and before bed.

My new workplace - The almost 150-year-old Vaughn Home

My new job at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt means I am working on a college campus again in the same environment I used to teach in (it was the reason I moved to Nashville). But this time I get to do things that are much more practical and mundane, but also interesting and new. Instead of teaching--or trying to at least convince students that the Humanities are worth studying--now I help make possible the kinds of interactions and meaningful discussions that define the Humanities. I get to help provide the opportunities for faculty and graduate students in different disciplines to learn and study with each other. Plus, it's fun! In the first few weeks I got to play tour guide to a group of academics from Ireland and help coordinate a visit from an award-winning novelist and his gospel band. I get to go to the Southern Festival of Books this week and get paid for it. And I get to listen to interesting people talk about engaging intellectual topics that matter. I feel so lucky to have found this place!

I remember one day in the Fall of my first year teaching at Vanderbilt. I was walking in front of a huge magnolia tree and the sun was shining through the leaves on that crisp, cloudless day. I had an almost out of body feeling of being very happy and content with my present situation. That kind of pure happiness that hits you for fleeting moments is hard to come by. That, unfortunately, didn't last too long in that particular time and space, but I feel like I finally have the chance to feel that way again. It's a feeling I longed for many times during the last however many years it has been--years spent trying to find myself and my career path again after coming to a dead end. Now, although the future is unclear and mysterious, I feel like I can finally hope for that contentment again.

It helps that my husband has a schedule that allows for us to both work and still be involved parents. I love my family, I love being a mother, even though it's the hardest thing I've ever loved, but I also love working. And I need to do both. That is not to say that I didn't love my time staying home with June for the past four-plus years. But I think this is what works for me now. And I am grateful for this opportunity. Stay tuned... if I can stay awake long enough to compose my thoughts, I'll be back soon!