Somehow I missed the benchmark of my 50th post for The Sheep Are Out. February has been a miasma of amazing family visits intermixed with flus, colds and other illnesses that we seem to be passing around like potluck dishes. Somewhere in the middle of trying to stay healthy, to get my loved ones healthy, to not make family that visited or that we were visiting sick, and to more or less keep up with life I missed the 50th mark. So I’m going to celebrate that today with my 52nd (I think…) post.
I started this blog last summer as a way to create purpose and focus in the middle of our new adventures in Canada. We now feel like we are finally finding our feet… sort of…, but those first few weeks especially were a crazy mix of excitement for our new home, for the ability to be close to family for the first time in Little Man’s life, as well as the intense frustration of immigration issues and missing those we had left behind again. Honestly I floundered for a bit.
This post is about that floundering… more or less… It consists of two short pieces that I wrote months apart. The first was written within the first couple of weeks of the move. I wrote it and then decided that it wasn’t anything I was going to share on the blog since it felt too raw. Then a couple of weeks ago I woke up after a dream and wrote this second piece; sort of a reversal from the earlier writing. Now as I celebrate the 50th-ish post for this blog, it seems to make sense to share both of these pieces here. If this is where the first 50-ish posts have gotten me, I can’t wait to see where the next lead.
Today, for the first time, I was described on an official document as a “homemaker.”
That’s a title that I have never worked for; hadn’t even considered it as a possibility or a desire. Then my son was born and I was only able to take off two weeks after giving birth before I was back in the classroom teaching full time. Friends have called me “super woman” for that, but I didn’t feel super or strong or anything near heroic. At that moment I was envious of my friends who had the ability to stay home with their babies. I never thought I’d feel that way.
In my mind I define myself as “University Professor.” That’s who I should be on that blasted form, that’s who I am, or at least I was. I spent a decade working on my graduate degrees, finally completing my dissertation and doctorate only a couple of years ago. I am just now getting comfortable with introducing myself as Dr. Hopwood. Now, with the great job offer for Dave that brought us here in the first place, and the expiration of my contract at the college where we taught in the States, now I am a “Homemaker.” I am a Ph.D. who cannot work at the local coffee shop because I don’t have my work visa yet, and in fact cannot even volunteer in a position where a Canadian would be paid. So who does that make me?
About a month or so before “the move” I was chatting with a dear friend about this; about what it meant to step back from or give up even temporarily a career that defines us. What I was going to do? We talked about the fear of losing the spark that makes us attractive to our husbands. But we both married some pretty stellar guys, so that wasn’t really the issue that concerned us. Then we talked about the even more pressing fear; that with the loss of career how would we stay attractive to ourselves? For that we had no easy answers and drifted into silence.
So today was the first time that I was officially defined as a “Homemaker.” It won’t be the last. Who do I become now?
A Dream of Different Days
While it is not unusual for me to remember a dream, it is not common either. I once kept a dream journal containing memories of dreams written down immediately upon waking. Rereading those entries was amazing, and many of the dream I never remembered even having.
This morning I had a teaching dream. I haven’t dreamt of being in the classroom for a while… at least not that I remember. In the past I’ve had the stress dreams of teaching, never naked in the lecture hall, but instead having to deal with troublesome students; or lecturing in class and suddenly not having a clue about what I’m supposed to be saying; or realizing that my entire lecture is blatantly false and everyone knows it. These were dreams not of my body being laid bare for all to see, but my inadequacies. Or so they seemed at the time. My dream from this morning, however, was not that kind of dream.
In fact, this was the most at peace I’ve ever been in a teaching dream. I was in a small room in a modern university building. Only one student. It all felt right. I don’t remember the course I was teaching or the lecture topic, but for some reason First Peoples of the Americas feels right too.
I woke up from the dream a bit blurry but peaceful to the sound of Little Man waking through the monitor, singing one of his favorite Imagination Movers songs. It wasn’t until later, trying to remember the dream and the feeling of rightness that it left with me, that I realized my one student was quite short. In fact he was exceedingly short for college, and he had a short mop of blond curly hair. He wore a nice pair of black dress pants and a long sleeve white button up shirt. He was calm and respectful in class, asking good if simple questions.
The dream shifted at some point to the same room, same class, but now full of normal-sized university students. We were discussing a lecture and each student spoke in a slightly high pitched, and distinctively whiny voice. They are getting nervous here, worried about how much they had to learn. I was unperturbed, finding this a normal part of their learning process. I answered their questions, worked through different misunderstandings, and we forged on.
Later something in my day triggered memory of this dream, and I recognized my one student, as well as the multiple whiny students, all as representing Little Man. This thought stopped me in my tracks, and I sat down trying to remember more of the dream. I came to realize that my current “teaching gig” has outrageous hours, an irascible student body, and a complete lack of school holidays or teaching breaks. Yet it’s my favorite “job” so far, even if the pay is lousy. This dream left me smiling for days. While I can’t vouch for tomorrow, for today at least I’m at peace with my “career.”