Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

On Fire–Birthday Edition April 24, 2016

I may not get to finish this post–Harlan’s kind of squirrelly. Porter’s napping. Seamus and Gilbert are quietly occupied. But all could change at a moment’s notice.

My parents are visiting, and the theme of this year’s birthday visit is wood. Finding it, loading it, rolling it, moving it, chopping it, sawing it, and burning it. There’ve been some injuries. There’s also been a lot of wood smoke. I’m sure our neighbors are loving us these days. The boys could not have had more fun.

Seamus is almost seven. It seems like a long time and not that long at all. He’s having a lot of birthday this week. My parents are here, with excitement and raisins for a present for the cake. There was a game. He’s been playing basketball and Monopoly with my mom. We swam at the hotel pool, but it was so cold that we could only do 45 minutes. I wasn’t too crazy about putting a suit on, but c’est la vie. Gotta happen sometime. I think I need a new one though. I’ve had this one since before I had any kids, and it doesn’t quite fit right anymore. Ha.

Tomorrow, my parents go home, and Seamus gets to invite two friends to go bowling. Afterward, they are coming back here for ice cream sundaes. I’m still anti-kids parties for my own kids (I love other kids’ parties), but we’ve caved to some of the pressure to let him do something fun with a friend. We did tell him and Gilbert that the other is not part of the birthday, so Gilbert seemed to understand, but we’ll see how he handles it tomorrow. We’ll have a special breakfast (croissants or bagels) and do a family dinner to celebrate.

On Tuesday, we’ll take a birthday treat to school, and have dinner with grandparents take two. On Wednesday, we’ll do dinner with grandparents, take three. And then his birthday will be over. I’d say it would be the best birthday ever, but he’s a little under the weather, and I’m pretty sure that I know him well enough now to know that he’ll suffer a vague existential disappointment in the entire process. But we’ll move on to the next birthday (Porter’s) and see how that one turns out.

Seamus’s birthday is a tough time of year because I’m always trying to finish up the semester, and it’s nearly impossible to get it all done around his birthday. New stuff keeps popping up, so I always feel like we’re about to careen off the rails. I looked at my blog post last year, and I had allergies bad on his birthday. Guess what? Yesterday, I got attacked by some allergy. I do like having the blog to remind me that I’m not sick.

My talk at the library reminds me that “having it all” is pretty hard. It seems like, for me, this time of year is when I most try to “have it all”–volunteer at their schools, be there for my students, grade all the papers, arrange social events and work functions, and still manage to sleep. It all is just too much sometimes. Eh, it’ll be fine. Not perfect, but fine. Pictures of the birthday boy in another post.

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