Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Whole-Time Husband

I'm taking a break from the topic of educational policy this morning to tell you a bit about the man who makes my active engagement with educational policy possible -- my husband, Liam.

You've probably noticed that Liam hasn't been contributing to our blog much lately.  Don't mistake this for an absence of commentary on current debates-- he always has plenty to say. Rather, Liam's been quiet on the blogging front in order to make my scholar-activism and motherhood jointly possible.

As I muddle through my 9th academic year at UW-Madison, and prepare to walk five doctoral students  and umpteen master's students across the stage in spring to earn their degrees, I'm increasingly asked by younger colleagues, how do you do it all?  I don't think they're necessarily remarking on the content of my work itself, but rather the volume of activities in which I engage, and the degree to which I bring energy to each of them.

The answer is really quite simple: Liam.

We have two children, ages 2 and 5, along with a dog and a cat, two cars, and a beautiful home. There are three meals a day for us all, always toilet paper when needed, clean laundry, and regular dental checkups and flu shots.  Bedtimes are regular, as are baths, and bills are paid on time.  But throughout it all, I travel 3-4 times a month giving talks, and juggle several consulting gigs on top of my full-time tenured position. This year I'm chairing my department's admissions committee and search committee, co-directing the annual conference and co-organizing our 10 year review, while also chairing a university-wide committee and overseeing a research team of more than 20 people.  Ah, and teaching.

How to make these things jibe?  Liam.  He works full-time as policy director for the New Teachers Center, but begins each day after taking the kids to their daytime activities and stopping in time to pick them up for their evening ones. He is always happy to see them, knows every detail of their likes and dislikes, never cross, never a bear, and consistently joyful in everything in they do.

When he's away, everything falls to pieces.  The kids and I try to scrape by, but we never survive.  We are miserable alone together, without our glue.  He returns, and we are all back in the swing.

The British writer Arnold Bennett once said that "being a husband is a whole-time job. That is why so many husbands fail. They cannot give their entire attention to it."  Well, incredibly my husband can.  He's a whole-time husband, and if women worldwide could achieve to their full capacities supported by men like him, the next generation would be in wonderful hands.