Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ah.... maternity leave

Daughter at (new) preschool.

Husband at office.

Relatives returned home.

Today is my first real day of maternity leave, just me and the baby, at home by ourselves.  I've started this blog in honor of the occasion, partly because I am a little bit unsure what I am going to DO with myself for the next couple months.

I'm really grateful that I am at an institution that sees itself as family-friendly, and has policies that accordingly match (for the  most part - perhaps I'll blog about that one day).  I think that babies do best with a lot of concentrated time with their parents early on, and I am breastfeeding and doing lots of attachment parenting type things that require time. I am among those who wish the US had maternity leave policies that are longer than 6 weeks (and even then only for companies with more than 50 employees, blah blah blah).  For all our talk about wanting to build a family-friendly nation, we have really unfriendly child and family policies. 

On the other hand, what's a full-time academic used to days of teaching, writing and committee work to do all day with - well - a non-college aged, non-talking, mostly-pooping 3 week old?  I haven't been trained for this!

Careful observers will, of course, note that I have another daughter, now in preschool, and may well ask what's different this time around?  Truthfully, it's the fact that I HAVE done this before that scares me.  I remember having days of feeling quite empty and purposeless last time around, too.  One friend of mine tried to get me on the Doman (teach your baby to read at 6 months!) method of working with babies, on the faulty assumption that this would somehow occupy my time with my first.  But making and reading handmade red letter cards with large words on them were not going to fill up the vacuum that had previously been filled by interesting colleagues, chats in the lounge, and students who ask off-the-wall questions.

Being a stay at home mom, even temporarily, is really, really tough I found.  So I'm a little scared this time around, but still think it's important to be here.

So, I have two months of maternity leave (that's all the short term disability I have accrued at my current institution).  When I "go back" in March I'll be doing modified duties so that I can get paid at my current level (i.e. no teaching, because one can't really begin teaching in mid-semester, but a lot of research and service).  I'll also be bringing my baby when I go back in March because the modified duties are supposed to be such that I won't need to be at the office much.  Heh heh.  We'll see how that goes, then.

Until then, you may well wonder whether I REALLY am on maternity leave, because I have the following things I need to work on:
1. Edited paper I presented at a conference last March, due mid to late January for the journal publishing the proceedings of the conference.
2. Mini regional conference in mid February, where I am an invited lecturer.  Guess how much I have actually written of that paper?
3. The Book.  7 chapters due by October 1st of this year (eek).  Guess how much of the book I have actually written?  (Fear for me a little less on this one than on #2 - I have actually written a couple of chapters...)

I guess let's jump into things, and see how far I can get nursing while typing one-handed ;-)


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