Saturday, November 21, 2009


When my children are with me, I am half full. To be connected with them, I feel very disconnected from the world of grown ups. I have little individual existence/identity. I often find myself not doing things I want/need to do (such as reading) and instead waiting for the next thing I need to do for them. And engaging with them involves a fair amount of negotiation, persuasion, cajoling... even for things they want to do. But we do connect, especially when they are with me for longer stretches. We had an interesting discussion about puberty in the car yesterday. Today we put the yard to bed for the season. But then they drop into legoland, a book, or a friend and I'm just waiting for the next thing I need to do and I feel the gulf between their world as kids and my adult status. I'm the one in charge. The one who makes money, buys food, makes plans, arranges transportation. makes the big decisions...

And when my children are gone and the world is a bit more about me, I am more like half empty. In those times, I am independent and the enormity of that is almost overwhelming. I feel like I waste large chunks of it. I should be riding my bike, writing my book, getting drunk, and kissing people. But I never seem to get that much out of it.

I'm feeling the frustration of neither situation feeling right. Both leave me so very tired. And I'm feeling at a loss as to how to fix it and find some sort of middle ground where the pieces of me fit together.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Go Team

Teaching a seminar with six students who are doing group-based research projects for community partners is pretty damn fun. Okay, there was a heapin' helpin' of anxiety-inducing work to set it up, but now that it is underway, I'm just having a blast. I've decided that this is because my relationship to them is markedly different than in most classes. I'm not there to present material. I'm not making up the assignments (well, I sort of did, but that was based on the needs of the community partners), and it doesn't even really look like I'm responsible for the deadlines (though I mostly am).

Rather than the "teacher," I am a resource. I am a mentor. I should be that for all my classes, but I'm not. I think the difference is partly that there is someone bigger and scarier than me or their grades out there - the community partners. The goal is also bigger -- it is not just about them as individuals and their grade. It is about the projects, projects that have a purpose in the real world. Whatever its source, there is a real "team" feeling to our meetings. They ask my advice, they share their anxieties, they offer to help, they get excited... and they think I'm on their side. And I am.