Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bible study Moms; is this the life I want?

Past readers know that I am a person of faith. I teach at a faith-based institution. While we are together during my sabbatical,  my family has been attending a church and we have gotten involved in a "small group" of four families.

The small group spends a weekday night reading scripture and reflecting on it. Both Hub and I enjoy it, and respect the knowledge of the others in our group. Hub is a non-believer and has never been exposed to the Abrahamic scriptures and history, so I am surprised and happy to hear him use the term "fascinating" to describe our meetings. I myself still have a lot to learn and have grown weary of meetings that are composed of either 1. shallow navel-gazing or 2. over- intellectualizing the scriptures until they no longer resemble what is written.

The three other families are composed of active duty military fathers and stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs). Two of the men are military academy graduates, highly selective schools like Hub's alma mater.While military friends are unusual for us, we have felt comfortable in the group. They appreciate my husband's outsider viewpoint and our experiences as academics. I have plenty of SAHM friends, so I haven't considered or asked the women's reasons for staying home. But then...

While on a social get together with this group, I was chatting with the mom that I know the least. She has a degree in a highly desirable tech field, and I assumed that she would return to work after her kids were in school or her constant moves for the military ended. We were discussing parenting styles, and she said something that blew me out of the water. She said, "The man really has to be the head of the house. If the woman starts wearing the pants that's when trouble starts."

Me (silently): ?!?!!?? I excused myself to tend to my misbehaving kid.

I believe families should choose whatever "style" everyone is comfortable with. If she would have said, "WE prefer a patriarchy" I could accept that. She made the statement as if that's How It Should Be for everyone. I hope we can discuss this soon in a civil manner, where I will politely but strongly argue against her view. I enjoy debating women's issues and meeting people with different viewpoints than mine. My fear is that I (and Hub) will associate "people who have a deep knowledge of scripture" with "people who follow the type of politics/ world view that we both disagree strongly with". 

It seems ironic...our family has lived in a relatively small city, but our community and church are globally minded and socially progressive. Our closest friends at "home" are hot-headed liberals. Though not "hot headed", we are comfortable in our home crowd. Now that we are living in a "big city" our new friends are presumably conservative evangelicals.

I'm always looking to solve our two body problem, so everything that I see in our current Sabbatical-together lifestyle, I ask: If we moved here, would I be happy? Or is our small-city life more suited to us? Do I want to live like this?  How will we build community here? Is this what I want from the rest of my life? The cultural differences between now and the status quo seem to warrant consideration, were we to imagine a life together here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Update on Failing my Sabbatical

I have finally worked the issues out with my technique but continue to transition to a completely new one. I will be able to do both soon, the first one well, and let;s cross fingers for the second one. I was also pulled into an office and asked/ told something very validating.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why my kids will stay with me next year and not their Dad.

It's just cheaper. By a lot.

If you follow my blog, my husband I have jobs in two different cities. This year, I am enjoying a sabbatical and working in his institution. I, the children and Hub are all living together (TOGETHER!!!) in the urban area where he/we work(s). It's already time to begin discussion where we are going to raise our children next year when I return to work and we continue this commuter marriage.
This spreadsheet describes our monthly expenses for rent and daycare in various arrangements. Dad works in an urban area where rents and day care are expensive. I live in a smaller town where the cost of living is lower. Rent 1 is Dad's rent in the urban area (900 for a studio, 1100 for a one bedroom, 1800 for a small house). Rent 2 assumes that we have rented out our home and I would find a cheaper apartment (500 for a studio, 700 for a one bedroom). In that case our mortgage (mort) is counted as $300, the loss we will take each month to rent it (we have a 15 year mortgage- rents can't match the monthly costs).

Boy will be in kindergarten in the fall, so care for him counts as after school care, unless folded in with an au pair. Girl will need full time daycare either in an institutional setting, or with an au pair. Au Pair agency fees AND monthly pay for the Au Pair, etc. are folded into a $1383/month cost for an au pair.  More is how much more we are paying for that option over the cheapest option.

A few notes; Only "Both kids with Mom" (+/- au pair) and "Split kids" Are options on our budget. Though it is financially viable, splitting the kids is pretty undesirable as they love each other dearly and are best friends (for now).

How does this fit with your experience?  Your thoughts?

I'm reading "Lean In"

I picked up Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" from the library before leaving on our humungo "Circle the US visiting Grandparents" tour this holiday season. I wanted to know what all the fuss is about. I didn't really think it applied to me, since I have NO INTEREST in running a Fortune 500 company. I don't even want to be the department chair.

I was wrong. There are a lot of useful things in the book for me (and you perhaps). I would like to expand on these in upcoming posts.
Here's a preview:
  • What would you do if you weren't afraid? Close the Leadership ambition gap.  
    • Yes, perhaps the reason I don't want be the Chair, or Dean, or Provost is because I feel underqualified and too disorganized. If I am treading water now with my family life, how much worse would it be? She addresses this common feeling among women  
  •  Make your partner a real partner.
    • This is an especially hairy situation in a commuter marriage. Hub is motivated and tries his hardest, but how does one do half the work when he is in another city for most of the week? We are working on it.
  • Sit at the Table
    • Since I got tenure, and am not currently vying for another position, I have relaxed into full humility and deference mode. Seems opposite of expected? It has to do with regional and institutional culture. And security. If I don't have to claw my way up, compete, and make sure I get noticed, I can be as sweet as sugar. Perhaps this isn't serving me well.
    • Fight the imposter syndrome. Yes, I have it and it is currently raging on my sabbatical as I am learning a lot of difficult new things. While Sandberg discusses her struggle against it, she has a lot of empirical evidence (two degrees from Harvard, Phi Beta Kappa) to argue against her imposter syndrome. I haven't published adequately, I have empirical evidence FOR it. Nonetheless, I must "fake it until I feel it", as she suggests.    
  • Myth of doing it all
    • Sandberg cites the relatively large Early Childhood Research Network to argue that there is no difference in several measures of development between children who were cared for exclusively by their mothers and those who were also cared for by others. Huge sigh of relief from here. My kids beg me to stay home when I leave for work, and I say I choose to go to work so I can help other people, too, and that I enjoy my work. Good to be reminded that I am not ruining their lives.