Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Boys Worry About These Things Too

Today a male student asked me just how many outside-of-work hours I spend grading papers.  He looked really concerned.  The question seemed to come out of the blue.  I probably did look miserable and exhausted as I graded a pile of essays while students took mid-terms, but still, it was an unexpected question. 

As it turns out, the student wasn't asking about me at all.  He's about to graduate and is engaged to a girl who is currently student teaching.  Apparently, she is prepping and grading all the time.  What he really wanted to know was is it possible to do the kind of work I do and still have time for all the other stuff in life, like spouses and kids and non-work related fun.

I told him what I usually tell students, usually female students, when this question comes up--balancing a career I love and family I adore is really hard work.  It takes a lot of deliberate planning to make sure all the demands on my time are being met, more or less, adequately, but, at the end of the day, it's a good life.  A hectic, often disorganized life, but I good one.  I stress that I have in Brian a partner equally committed to our family, someone who takes a great deal of pleasure in being a husband and father, and someone who is incredibly supportive of me and my work.  The work/life balance is a lot easier when all the adults in the relationship are equally dedicated to the balancing act.

It's a conversation I have regularly with students, but it was the first time I've had it with a male student.  He seemed to be at the beginning of the process of thinking through these issues, but it nonetheless made me happy to think his fiancee wouldn't have to think about these questions on her own.


Laurie said...

So nice to hear of men being as concerned as women about finding balance in their work/home lives! It makes such a big difference if both partners commit to making it work.

PPR_Scribe said...

I was not sure what field the young man plans to go into. But I hope he also recognizes that professionals working in education/academia often have a rhythm to their lives that can require a lot more business at some times than others, as well as some less structured time that may look "free" but often is not.

In my experience married to a non-academic, that has been the hardest thing for him to fully understand. I agree---it does take both partners, and it looks like this couple is starting off on the right foot.