Professional What? by: Mommy Dearest, Ph.D.

Virginia_620x275Today I dropped out of my comfort zone for a minute. I left the gym and knew I wanted to run a few errands that would include the organic butcher and I was trying really hard to find a way to get to the butcher without having to drive through the University. I told myself that it was because of the masses of students, assorted academic-y nerds, and medical facility people that crowd crosswalks and the corner, but then as I started to pull up University Avenue, I realized it was more than that. I felt completely inadequate, like I had entered a foreign world, like I was on the other side of the planet. I drove by the President’s office remembering several meetings I had been to there with the Dean and the Provost. For a brief moment I flashbacked to watch myself walk across the crosswalk to Bodo’s to pick up lunch, stopping by the Orientation office to say hi to colleagues. I wore a suit and heels, carried a high end bag full of miscellaneous self-important crap. I remembered that once upon a time, I had big plans and I pretended that I had some tiny bit of power.

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Doctoral degree – check. Baby on the way – check.

I looked down at my hands, my shorts, my shoes, over at my gym bag, in the rearview mirror at the two baby seats in the back of my car. I took a breath and my mind wandered and I didn’t even realize how tense I had become. I let it go and moved forward through the crosswalk. The biggest decision of my day doesn’t affect 5000 undergrads anymore, just two little people. What am I doing? Where am I going? Will I ever get back to some semblance of that life or have I moved beyond it to someplace new and different that might allow me to be more than I ever imagined I could be? I KNOW I’m not the only one that feels like this – it’s just that today was the first day in a long time I’ve been confronted with my own fears of inadequacy. It’s funny. I’ve never felt afraid to be a mother, to face my children everyday, to make decisions for them. But one simple drive through my alma mater, a place where I earned two degrees, including a doctorate, and I shake in my trail running shoes. You know I used to bash those women who earned the degree and then fell into a stay-at-home trap and disappeared from the village of “Making a Difference.” What the hell did those women do I wondered. How did they let themselves become invisible? Now maybe I understand where some of them are coming from, because I doubt a single person on Grounds even so much as glanced over to notice me shaking in my shoes. It feels really tough to get back in the game and perhaps that’s why some of us decide to change the course and remake the rules by which we used to define ourselves.

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