A Weak Foundation

Here we are in the fifth week and I find myself losing sight of the accomplishments and successes I discussed in my last post.

I like to say things started crumbling when I took Labor Day off. The university was closed and my husband worked – he usually does not work Mondays, so we didn’t have care for the Wee One. I greatly enjoyed having an extra day with her and returned to work feeling refreshed. But that Tuesday – and especially by Thursday or so – I felt so far behind that it was more like I’d taken a week off.

The next week I had to be out of the office one day to go to the nearest major city, a few hours from here. Another day lost to work that left me feeling even further behind.

This semester I’ve been making an effort to work from home as little as possible. Working full time and sending Wee One to daycare, I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with her as I’d like to and she’s growing so fast – sitting unsupported already! My evenings with her are so special to me and I want need to maximize that time. By the time she’s down for the night I’m exhausted and also would like to actually spend some time with my husband – the person whose company I greatly enjoy and whom I feel like I never see anymore. Unfortunately, I’m about done and ready to pass out within an hour of the baby going down (an hour that, tonight, I am spending blogging). And so, even when I bring work home the only way it gets done in the evening is if it absolutely must be done right this minute.

The end of last week found us with a daycare crisis and scrambling to find a new provider. I’ve had considerable stressful experiences in my life but nothing even remotely compared to having a bad experience with daycare and the worry that came with finding somewhere new and trusting someone new – again – with our little girl. Last Friday was completely lost to me.

This feeling of being so behind has been wearing on me this week. On Tuesday I made a to-do list divided into tasks I would do in the morning and tasks I would do in the afternoon. Approximately half of the items on the list still remain. Some of the items are still there because things come up. Others are there because they all took more time than I thought they would. The to-do list I meant to accomplish in one day has become my to-do list for the week.

Unexpected items this week have included emergency counseling with my brand-new masters student who had a conflict (totally not the student’s fault) with a senior faculty member earlier in the week and wound up in tears in a 2nd year student’s office – my first graduate student crisis from the faculty advisor side, and my first time dealing with a conflict between one of my students and another faculty member. The student is now fine and the problem has been remedied. Not entirely to everyone’s satisfaction, but remedied.

Literally within minutes of dealing with that I learned that because of schedule changes I needed to get myself and a graduate assistant enrolled in a short course, absolutely essential for my research, that will have me out of the office two consecutive days next week. This means I’m in the office the remainder of this week and then, because of that class and a conference, gone for 7 of the next 10 business days. And so here I sit, at 8:42 PM, on the verge of panic and blogging in the hopes of getting this all out of my head so that maybe, just maybe, I can sleep tonight.

I’ve heard the second year on the tenure track can be a little easier than the first. We’re settling into a routine, teaching classes we’ve taught before and moving forward with research. Things we did all the foundational work for last year and over the summer. Except I didn’t. I spent the spring semester of my first year either on bed rest or maternity leave and the summer enjoying my time with the baby. Do I regret spending my summer with her and doing very little work? Not for even a split second. But I do think I’d probably be better off now at work if I’d laid a stronger foundation in the first part of 2013. Not regret, exactly…just, noticing.