I think the most profound difference between my life now and my life while I was working full time is the pacing. I’m still putting in roughly the same number of hours as I was before, but the pacing of those hours is quite different. I’m able to work early in the morning, break for breakfast, continue working until lunch, break for lunch, sometimes work over lunch, work until the kids get home, sometimes working while they do homework. It sounds like I have my nose to the grindstone but I don’t. I work fairly slowly and evenly, never at any kind of frantic pace. In my old life, I often found myself feeling like I had to be in crisis mode all the time, either because there really was a crisis or because everyone around me turned everything into a crisis.
I am going to try my best to keep this pace even though I have a lot going on. Classes begin for me today and I have figured in prep time for that, which I hope to keep at a certain number of hours per week. As an adjunct, I’m not getting paid enough to devote my life to a single class. I’m also working on a multimedia presentation, an essay series, and a textbook formatting project. I could panic and go into crisis mode at any point, but I’m not going to let that energy take over.
This morning, as part of an essay I’m working on, I re-read Hirshman’s TAP article and IHE article as well as some of the comments on it. Also, the class I’m teaching is Gender and Technology, so gender issues are generally on my brain. And the thing that struck me, both as I’ve “opted out” as Hirshman would say, and as I get back to Feminism 101, is that what feminism to me was supposed to do was both to open up opportunities for women to access money and power (what Hirshman sees as the only way to measure success), and also to change society so that it valued not just money and power but also other things that women historically have participated in. The idea that one’s success can only be measured by how much money and power one has just irks me. And of course, Hirshman’s article was written years before our financial fallout where the striving for money and power led us down the path of destruction. I also found, in writing my own story of how I always seemed to put my career on the back burner, that some of the most important skills and knowledge I’ve developed were developed when I was opting out. Her argument that smart women who choose to stay at home are atrophying is just plain wrong. I know I’m not the only one who is doing things now that will pay off later: taking an online class, volunteering, etc. Just because some women aren’t doesn’t mean that we all are. And just because some us want to work at our own pace and enjoy this one life we’ve got doesn’t mean we’re all failures.