Please, for a moment, let me allow my non-teacher friends to get out your “but at least you get summers offs” out of your system. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that we’ve moved past that, I can do what I came here to do: summer is officially over for me, and frankly I’m less enthusiastic about that. To be honest, my new job, which began in earnest this summer, has meant that I’ve not been as removed from my campus as much as I have been; so minus my honeymoon and an extended weekend in Gatlinburg, TN recently, I’ve seen my office for extended periods rather regularly since mid-May. This has been unusual, and even that has taken a little getting used to. Even the past two summers when I’ve been teaching, those classes basically consisted of showing up for the class and going home; but this summer has been different in that I’ve done a lot of going in for a few hours and taking care of new job responsibilities, that sort of thing.
Still, when summer really ended yesterday, the emotions really started to settle in. Everyone was back, and that was really great see all my colleagues and see how their summers went, and to share with those who I hadn’t seen as much of the various highs and lows of my own. The downsides, of course, include that at my school, they don’t believe in slow rolling us back into the year: we hit the ground running, hit the bottom of the hill and break into a dead sprint from there. Day 1 was meetings from 8:30-3, including an hour-long keynote speaker right before lunch; day 2 was making the meetings look enticing, as each full-time faculty member in the school of arts and sciences was instructed to work on some assessment of work done by our recent graduates. This is all work I know to be necessary, but it is a long and often confusing way to spend the second day back.
This is not intended to be a vent session. I actually really like my job for the first time in probably my entire life, and I’m grateful for the opportunities it has provided me. I never thought I’d be one pushing for upward mobility, but I’m working toward that goal, hopefully with the ability to stay where I am. Add to the fact that my wife is in education, and our parallel career lines should make for a very nice schedule for us. But getting up early in the morning after not having to for several weeks isn’t fun, especially when you realize that this isn’t just anomaly, but the state of the rest of your life for the next several months. Again, I’m not seeking affirmation or the playing of the world’s smallest violin or really a stringed instrument of any size; this is merely a reminder of my reality.
The worst part of it is how bad I am at transitions. On this statement, you’d likely think I’ve made a poor career choice, since mine is a profession rife with transitions (a point I’ve made in another blog on this very site); but a lot of my struggle with this past few days (and what will likely prove to be difficult about the next 2-3 weeks) has to do with this very conflict. Things are changing, and I don’t much care for that.
And of course, things are changing all around me. My marriage is only a month and half old, and I’m learning to live with not only a new adult but a small child; my wife’s new career is just getting started, and she’s facing her first-year of teaching with a confidence and grace I’m not sure I had my first time out; and our new home means figuring out our routine from multiple perspectives, something that butts up against my own desire to get up and do the same thing every morning. Pretty soon, I’m going to be responsible for my three-year-old step-daughter every morning, yet another challenge, yet another change to my norm.
I’m learning to be okay with these, learning that it isn’t all about me and how I like things, but that other people in my life have thoughts and opinions and expectations, and that part of my new role as husband and father is to be better at going with the flow and adapting to the changes faster than I might generally be comfortable doing so. This is an interesting part of all the new things going on in my life that I sort of knew about, but it is also truly a case of “you don’t know until it happens to you.” And so I’m working on saying more of what I mean, on expressing my thoughts and preferences, and yes, on not allowing small hiccups to throw me off entirely.
The first week back at work, then, is maybe a small way for me to deal with that. At least there are elements of the familiar there, and at least at the end of these wild, brain-wrenching days, I know that my girls are home, just excited to see me.
Who’d have thought?