Today, I had to share some difficult news with people I care about. The news was that I am resigning from my position at Birmingham-Southern College. If you've followed this blog at all the last four years, you can see where BSC meshed with our lives both before and after parenthood, all in good ways. For the last year, we've prayed a lot and considered a lot, as we discerned what was best for our growing family. And so, I'm coming home to be a (gulp) stay-at-home mom, as baby Helen makes her debut in a few more weeks.
While most people that resign from their job have a feeling of elation and relief, this is a very bittersweet decision for me. I've worked in college student affairs for eleven years now, and it is a huge part of who I am and I like that. There is no corporate greed or corporate ladder in college work. It is not paper shuffling, or data entry. When I leave at the end of the day, my "work" tends to be in a very different place the next morning. College students like to keep you on your feet like that. I love my students. I love the challenges each day brings, and I love being a part of shaping a student's college experience. College was an incredibly fun and memorable time for me. Doing what I've done the last eleven years was the closest I could get to staying in college forever!
Changing jobs usually means building upon skills you have gained in previous career positions. Coming home to my children and home is incredibly daunting and provokes great anxiety for me. Talk about a lack of skills! And, I am the biggest hypocrite you will ever meet. If you knew me five years ago, you never, ever would have expected me to be a stay-at-home mom. Because of this, I have a great deal of respect for working mothers and their commitment and ability to provide for their family. I wish I could be a superwoman and continue to do both but my position is simply too challenging to continue to be a good mom, wife, and good dean to my "other children" at BSC. My BSC students deserve a more committed dean, and my son and future daughter deserve a more committed mother.
I tried very hard to share the news quickly and personally today so that it would not seep into the very small BSC grapevine in a way that was hurtful or overly dramatic for students, faculty, and staff with whom I work. I plan to stay on at BSC until the contractions start (somewhere around April 8th) or the paramedics tell me I have to go. I'll take April and May off for maternity leave and then come back for a few weeks in June to finish major projects and reports, ensuring that my replacement can start the new academic year moving forward rather than playing catch up because of any of my unfinished projects. In announcing my resignation now, it allows BSC to post the open position early, in the hopes of gaining a very strong applicant pool. This is a great position for someone and I am confident that BSC will be able to find a great new dean, someone as excited as I was and still am for what BSC offers. I started my career at BSC in the summer of 1997 and I will be leaving there in 2008. If not for BSC, I never would have entered student affairs, which means I never would have met my loving husband.
I can't say that I'll stay gone from higher education forever. Let's just call it an extended sabbatical, with my research focused on an eighteen year study of child development prior to the college freshman year experience. I'll certainly have plenty of material with which to work.