The Back Burner


“In attempting to having it all, never forget that if we don’t have love, joy, peace, tranquility and an ability to be truly present in our lives that we don’t have it all anyway. We really don’t have anything.” -Carolyn Anderson, June. 26, 2012, “Why Women still Can’t have it All (at the Same Time)” Huffpost.

It’s the morning after our housewarming/welcome our twins party. I’ve got iTunes Radio Jazz playing in the background, my son Sam chilling in his room, the husband out picking up the Sunday paper. The dining room table is filled with left over dips, bread and Cheetos bowls. The twin girls are sound asleep in their bouncers next to me. Leaning in to motherhood has given me more than I ever imagined. It’s funny to think that I needed to step away from work to gain the home I always wanted. As you walk down our new hallway, I’m happy to see a framed photo of my 2011-2012 student government board on the cover of the Summer/Fall college schedule. The picture is the students on the beach, all wearing their I Heart Canada t-shirt. They are on their overnight winter leadership retreat in Santa Cruz. Along with that picture hangs photos from a friend’s wedding, our wedding, my husband and I’s first trip to Germany together. I didn’t realize how much I needed this.

These past few years I’ve put more energy into how my office looked, partially because I spent more time there than in our apartment. Being able to take this time off to put our home together is like coming home to myself. My husband, who was driving an hour to work one way, is now 15 minutes from home. To see him home for lunch to finish painting a wall, or to hang a photo is priceless and so good for our marriage. Today we celebrate 6 years. Marriage, motherhood, careers, whatever it may be, we all deserve a full life. Whatever that may be for you, go for it. Do what makes you happy. And then, let yourself be happy.

Last night, I saw a very good friend and fellow student affairs colleague who I’ve know for over 12 years now. As we talked about this huge change in my life, she asked how I was doing, and I could’t help but say I was happy. Then I asked her, can I be happy? She knew what I was really asking, “can I be happy not being an administrator right now”. And she wanted to ask the same thing too, “can I be happy not being the Dean right now?” She has a 13 year old son, and three years ago she held an excellent administration position and lead her campus very well too. Then, her college faced budget cuts and her position was eliminated and she was asked to return to a counselor position. Today, she loves her life. She loves the new ways in which she gets to make an impact on students, and the extra time she gets with her son. We joked last night that the “dean” position is always there when we feel ready to try again. Then we laughed and wondered what if we were meant to do something different. What if we let ourselves dream big in ways that don’t define Big as Big Paycheck or Big Title? What if we were meant to move mountains in a whole new way?

That’s kind of what this break has turned into for me. I feel like I’m on a much needed retreat where I’ve slowed down to take care of some things that have been on the back burner and where I have discovered new things like the joy of painting walls bright colors or finally printing those photos that have been in your phone forever on Shutterfly and finding a cool way to frame them. We hung ours in white frames along on our newly painted teal living room wall, surrounding the TV. I love it. This time away from the office has still given me the chance to put those well-rounded student affairs skills like “team bonding”, “listening” and “organzing” (all of them talents that we student affairs crew know we couldn’t lead our students and departments without) to work – at home. With three kids and new house, it’s like a new semester.

The girls are waking up now. They started talking that baby talk. I remember when my son Sam started the baby talk and I hoped down the road we would have plenty of talks in the car. Today, Sam is 3 1/ 2 and we play “I spy” and he lets me know when the light is green and red. My hope with the girls is that when they can talk to me in the car in the same way. Together, we will be discussing the three biggest things we did that day – all the while playing “I spy”.


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