a welcome epiphany

Today I had a James.Joyce.style epiphany. If you’re C or A (or other close friends) you might want to sit down before reading this, as it’s a total shift in a plan you’ve heard me insist upon for months. (Though you’re probably sitting down anyway. I mean, who reads blogs standing up?) If you’re anyone else, here’s the rhetoric that held until today:

I have to go on the job market this year because – though there are probably opportunities for me to secure a fifth year of funding here, spend more time with the baby, and revise my dissertation – I can’t risk losing a job in a state that has same-sex second parent adoption.

I became completely devoted to this idea after we lost E, when we transitioned to J as the gestational parent*, when I began to face the possibility of not having biology OR bodily experience OR legality on my side. And I could do it. I’m on track to have a full draft of my dissertation by next April. It will be a rudimentary draft, but it’ll be a draft. What I’m starting to see, though, is that here’s what that looks like:

  • Spending this upcoming fall teaching a new prep (British Literature II), writing a full chapter draft, and completing job materials to start sending out in October, all the while preparing for the Rabbit to come home with us in January and continuing to grieve Emmett.
  • Applying, then having to tell any prospective departments that I can’t come to MLA because my wife is due any day now, and (by the way) could I have a Skype interview instead?
  • If I’m blessed with a campus visit, having to leave my wife and new baby to check out a job I’ve got a 1 in 3 chance of getting. Or (if I’m super blessed) doing this multiple times. WHILE teaching. AND writing my fourth chapter draft.
  • Spending my first summer with this little one frantically revising for dissertation defense.
  • Moving with a six-month old.
  • Starting the tenure track during that baby’s first year of life.
  • Taking J out of a job (a job she’ll be offered soon, we pray!) after less than one year.
  • Leaving our house, our friends, our safety nets so quickly after everything we’ve been through.
  • Putting our house on the market with a newborn, and PRAYING that it miraculously sells.

All of that for an increased chance of legal parenthood. All of that for a fear-based choice. And when I stop and really listen, it’s just not what I want. What I want is:

  • To immerse myself in baby.love when Rabbit River gets here.**
  • To apply for dissertation funding, which would grant me up to a full year just to revise, and to be home with this child! ***
  • To finish my dissertation draft by this coming April, and then to have lots of time for revision.****
  • To SLOW DOWN. To stop proving myself. I’m a high school drop out with a GED, so for me to be here is a big deal. I’ve fought for this life, and I think I’ve earned it. Now it’s time to trust it.
  • To stay in this town – with the people who have gotten us through this year – long enough to enjoy the good things that I hope are coming.
  • To give J and me time to finally stand still and regroup. To just be together. To breathe.
  • To give us and our son or daughter time to learn what it is to be a family together.

Standing still. Slowing down. Trusting that I’m going to make it, that I don’t have to prove that. Being in this space with my wife and my child. Giving the.miracle.that.is.my.family the time it deserves (which is all the time). This new plan makes me heart-happy.

* More to come on this new (to me) term, and the new wisdom it has brought with it.

** I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I’ve decided that what’s WAY more important than legal recognition is time to become a great mama to this child. Time to bond. Time for love.

*** If I don’t get dissertation funding (which is competitive), I have a back-up plan of applying for an assistantship in Gender and Women’s Studies. This is far less ideal, as the biggest reason to stay here is bonding time with our baby: getting to be, for one year, something like the stay.at.home mama I’ve always fantasized about being. An assistantship with GWS would mean a lot more work. Still, it would offer more time than a brand new tenure track job.

**** I’ve come to believe that this work I’m doing deserves time. It’s important work, and it’s worth doing well. I have a dissertation director who is thorough and insightful, and who will help me make this meaningful. I have the space to write, which I don’t want to take for granted. And the more I have this revised before leaving here, the closer I’ll be to finding it a home, which would make my tenure-track life MUCH easier.

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3 thoughts on “a welcome epiphany

  1. I fully support this shift! Not having second parent adoption is scary, for sure. But your new plan allows so much more room to breath and love and heal.

  2. I LOVE the quote/drawing that heads off this post. Your voice sounds so well grounded as you speak about this decision. I’m happy and hopeful when I think of your upcoming year.

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