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that’s what the head of the search firm called my candidacy. sure, i’m less experienced than the folks with 20+ years behind them, but sometimes what committees want, or even need, is someone younger, with a fresher perspective, more energy, etc.

or not. i made the a-list, but not the list of semi-finalists.

after academama posted about the possibilities of working with her husband overseas, i found myself envious. it wasn’t just the overseas part, although i’ll confess to finding that really intriguing. it was the combination of having a rewarding job and doing something new. the more i thought about it, the more i realized just how much i don’t want to be where i am — so many of the places i am. the region of the country. the actual city. the job. it’s just not me. and i can keep fighting it, or i can acquiesce, or i can try to make it better.

i always like trying to make things better. so i hit the job market.

in the past two-ish weeks i’ve submitted 9 applications. i work on my materials at night after the kidlets go to bed (and dishes are done and the house is tidied up), which means the earliest i can start is about 9 pm. gone are the days, i am loathe to say, when i could sleep from 2 until 6 am and feel rested. i am one tired scribblette.

and it may be the exhaustion, or my own tendency to undersell myself, or a good measure of reality, but it’s hard to tell whether i have a shot in hell at any of the jobs i’ve applied for.  some are truly long shots. others are whims. but all of them are in geographic regions where mac and i are eager to live and raise kids. all of them are at institutions that, at first blush at least, i believe i will like. all of them, in other words, hold out the promise of something better, more energizing, more rewarding.

i’ve got about a dozen more jobs saved in my job folder, all of them worth considering.  most of them have july 1 start dates. so either we’ll be moving this summer, or i’ll start a long commute this summer, or…more likely…this will be my year to learn about this type of market and to better prepare myself for it…next year. when i plan to kick some job-searching butt.


…what with the roller coaster of job search, boo’s refusal to sleep, bitsy’s constant query “can I really, mom?” and mac’s support of my wandering efforts to find a better version of myself.

every so often i remember scribblette and i want her to share her strange dreams after reading david foster wallace or her excitement about the birthday ice-cream being delivered (today!) or about the failed effort to ever leave town (foiled again), but then a deadline looms or a baby cries or a toddler kisses me and whooooosh! away it all goes.

day 1: lose all psychological momentum built up over the weekend by postponing visit to gym. finally go to gym, take tour, feel certain that everybody is staring: who is the new girl? suddenly become too self-conscious to stay and work out. (besides, it’s enough that i took the step to get here. right?  RIGHT?)

sit in lounge. flip through information packet. get up to ask about childcare (since childcare was one of the prime attractions of this gym). learn there is no more childcare for now, but that it may start up again in the summer. drive home, feel remaining momentum (no childcare? no childcare!) drain from my bones.

day 2:  after much hemming and hawing and to-do-ing about nothing, go to a p.m. pilates class. ouch. in a good way.

day 3: wake up, anticipating serious post-exercise pain. am surprised that none is there. remember that we have dinner plans at 6:30, which can be postponed until 7:30, especially if i explain the delay by telling entertaining stories about my time at the gym. spend morning discussing with mac whether/when he’ll train, whether/when i’ll go to the gym, whether/when our sitter is coming over.

go to dinner. at 6:30.

day 4: wake up, find post-exercise pain. (it’s not called DOMS for nothing.) hobble around the house all morning. try not to make any sudden moves. begin, slowly, to feel my smug-o-meter climb as the DOMS subside and i have visions of myself getting back into shape.

do not go to gym.

day 5: wake up with back-ache (induced, i believe, by curling around a nursing baby for most of the night). get dressed, head to gym for a core strengthening class followed by a dance class. find the core class challenging but not impossible. make my way to the dance class, a good 10 years older and four babies heavier than the next oldest person in the room, and a good deal whiter in my moves. have fun. realize that fun is not always pretty.

day 8: decide that gym is not for me, what with no childcare *and* no follow-up phone call from perky front desk person to see whether i’m going to join. feel gym is irresponsible for lack of said follow-through.  

spite gym by signing up for independent pilates classes.

dear effie, dear little girl,

     every year that i write these letters i feel further away from you. it’s so hard to believe that it has only been four years since you left us — i remember all too clearly, as if it were last week — and yet it feels so long ago. so many lifetimes ago. so much grief ago.

     today is a very different day from the last one we had with you. it was gray — rainy, then snowy — not the kind of winter day that draws you outside to play. i exercised, and my tummy is probably about the size it was when you were there, taking what would have been your last breaths. i was tired from being up with your brother during the night, and i half-wanted only to be home, snuggled in the house with my family. and then, of course, there is a family.

     such a very different day.

     i have learned so much in the years since you came, then went. changed so much. seen so much and loved so much. and through it all: you. my oldest daughter, my firstborn, the little girl who turned me into a mother, who helped shape me into the mother — the woman, the person — i am becoming, spend every day being.

     it is true that i don’t think of you as often as i used to. as often as i would like. as often as i think i should. but i like to believe i think of you exactly the right amount: as often as i need to, as often as i should. it’s strange — lovely in its own rough way — how you have woven yourself into the fabric of my life, of my being. how much you are part of the tension, the pull, that is my every day. how easy it is not even to notice. and how hard it can be, sometimes, when i do.

     i still haven’t learned how to talk about you to others. i still haven’t learned how to bring you up, how to hold people accountable for your memory. how much i wish in those moments that i had had the courage to name you. the courage to take a picture. the heart to create different memories than the ones i have. instead, what i have of you is so private: the moment of your delivery. your still body in my arms. your tiny perfection.

     there is, in all of that, an intimacy that i treasure for being mine. as i treasure you.

     your brother and sister are having rough nights. neither one wants to stay asleep. they both want to be held, to be snuggled in close. it’s fitting, somehow, that they are crying for me even as try to give you my undivided attention. this is how my days, without you, go by.

     i love you.  ~~scribblette

when i started drafting this post, i wrote:

at this particular moment, a feminist mother looks like a woman giddy about her stylin’ new ‘do sitting at her desk, pumping and writing.

and now i suppose i’m the same woman, with a slightly less “new” haircut, but still pumping (or rather, pumping again). maybe there is more consistency to what a feminist mother looks like than i thought. but probably not.


Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother? Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?

this is a fascinating question. if i’ve identified as a feminist mother, and–like most mothers everywhere, i presume–i feel compromised as a mother, then i suppose i feel compromised as a feminist mother.

i’m sitting here (still pumping) wondering about other ways i’ve felt compromised. what are they?, i keep wondering. and here’s a nice example: my current job. it is not a particularly good job. it’s not very rewarding, it’s not intellectually challenging, it doesn’t bring me much, if any, satisfaction. and that runs counter to my values: i believe in vocations, i believe in enjoying yourself in all you do, i believe in not wasting your time being unhappy (when you can avoid it). so how would i defend keeping this job? in particular, how would i defend keeping this job to an older daughter, for whom i was trying to set a positive example? i’m not sure i could defend it except in the most mundane of ways: there are material exigencies that prompted me to take this job, and in our current economic state there are material exigencies that prompt me to keep it. i can talk myself into feeling better by focusing on the things i am trying to do to create a better professional life for myself, but i suspect i would sound the way children of the ’30s sounded to children of the ’60s: old, tired, having given in. to any extent that i am those things — intellectually, professionally, romantically, psychologically — that feels to me like a compromise.

am i being self-indulgent to cut myself some slack as a dbm with an infant at home? perhaps. perhaps that, too, is a compromise.

i go back and forth with feeling compromised in the home. at my worst, i worry that i set terrible examples for my kids in all kinds of ways: communicating, sharing, loving. at my best, i know that all of these compromises can be talked through, can be worked through. generally, though, i inhabit some middle ground where i know that i am compromising all kinds of things i would prefer not to be compromising, but that i am limited, i am human, there is no choice but to compromise. the only choice is to make the best compromises possible at any given moment.

so…i guess there are many ways i am, or am potentially, compromised as a feminist mother. but i don’t feel that i am ever compromised specifically because i am a feminist mother, unless somehow my feminism is the root cause of all this reflection (in and beyond this post), in which case, i suppose, i am totally compromised.

but not unhappy about it.

July 2018
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Your Word is "Why"
You see life as complicated and intriguing. The only thing you know for sure is that you haven't figured it all out yet. You question everything and believe very little. And whatever you believe is likely to change. You are interested in theories, philosophies, and religions...even if you don't buy into any of them. You are also fascinated by how things work. You'd like to understand as much in the world as possible.

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