Friday, November 26, 2010

Ooops - where did November go? And, the addiction to family.

I am booking appointments into January 2011 right now, and it is not even December. So, I figured I had better blog at least once or I will miss this entire month!!  I do not remember September, it is just a blur. October was crazy, with a conference in Newfoundland and another in Ontario, teaching a graduate course (excellent students, btw), keeping up with two research projects (and a new one that got funded), doing analysis and writing for a self-study of our graduate programs, editing the special issue of a journal, writing a proposal for a grant, EDSA, GPEC, DAC and FEC meetings, doing a few media interviews, talking with prospective students on the phone, moving from one office to another, and updating several websites.

But this month of November, which begins with All Hallows Day and ends with Mark Twain's and Winston Churchill's birthdays, has to be the busiest I have experienced as a faculty member in the last 10 years... No, Really!!  I have the marked up, over-crowded postit-note plastered, dog-eared daytimer to prove it... BUT, SShhhh!! So far, I have successfully fended off attempts by my handlers to put my calendar online and accessible to others for booking meetings....  Anyways. To one of the points of this post.  The other day, I got a note from my dean congratulating me and my team on a job well done. It is hard to describe how awesome it was to get this feedback and recognition; a simple little note, a moment of recognition for a job well done, and in spite of carrying two industrial sized bags around under my eyes from cramming my marking into the wee hours  of the morning, I actually felt much lighter, even more positive about my job, and that much more happy to come to work.

Speaking of how one can be busy AND happy at work, I also try to maintain a healthy and balanced home life with dear husband and two children. Not. Always. Easy. Nor. Is. It. Nirvana. So, I actually paid attention to this National Post article when it crossed my virtual desk this week:  The Greatest Addiction of All. I can certainly relate to the opening narrative in which a little child cuddles on a parent's lap, the cares of the day fall away, and all seems well in the world. Most mornings and evenings, and several times a day and at night on weekends, I, too, get numerous cuddles and kisses from two manic, wriggling, over-heated, often piercingly loud, sometimes smelly little bundles of unrestrained joy... Yup. There is the fantasy of parental bliss, and there is the reality.

Parenting is just as challenging, if not more demanding, than being a full time professor. In future posts, I might just detail some of the more humorous incidents and events that characterize my parenting journey. Suffice it to say, I often feel like a border collie - screaming banshee - Nanny McPhee - cross as I shepherd my two offspring through school, music lessons, sports activities and family and household chores and routines, take a deep breath before you smack one of them....  All of which foreshadows the next part of the article that resonated with me:  "Research may depict parenthood as a bile-inducing, rage-fueling, stress-producing ordeal, but parents tell us that becoming parents is the best thing they ever did". Truly, while they are a work in progress, my two offspring are my greatest creations. Cute, smart, funny, exasperating, argumentative, entertaining, gifted, demanding, irritating....

My sister sent me this earlier this month, and I finally got around to reading it:  Men are from mars, kids are from Pluto. Very funny and liberating -- so what if your child wants to wear a Halloween costume to kindergarten? Every... day... for... a... month...  Must be normal on Pluto....

I realize I am blathering a bit. But, I do have a point. How to reconcile the tiny little cherished moments of bliss with the daily grind of full-time work and full-time parenting? Though the connection may seem awkward, it makes total sense to me:  it appears that the tiny little moments in parents' lives, those cuddles and kisses, the lap time, AND those sporadic, congratulatory notes from the boss, are like narcotics to addicts. Yes, it is the hope for reward, not the reward itself, that often drives us; and it is the tiny little moments of bliss that sustain us through the hard work it takes to do anything well.