Saturday, December 31, 2005


As many of you know, my husband has spent most of this fall trying to find gainful employment at one academic post or another for next year. The plan is that he will spend the Spring doing the job thing and finishing his diss and I will be the primary caregiver for the D-unit.

Many of you may NOT however, know what a huge pain in the butt the academic job application process is. It starts with applications, which include carefully crafted cover letters, CVs (academic resumés), teaching portfolios, and writing samples. These are sent out and if one is lucky, one might get a phone interview or an interview at the big languages conference (held every year, for some sick reason, from Dec. 27-30). This is the “we’re trying to see if you’re worth the cost of bringing you to campus” interview. This is the phase Daddymatic just completed: he had several interviews at the conference in Washington, DC over the past few days. He asked me to go with him, and this being his hour of need, I could hardly refuse, but we both knew that academic conferences routinely appear on the list of 10 places your 11-month-old will like least, so we—well, I—agonized for weeks over what to do with my somewhat clingy offspring while we were on the trip. Bee-bee (my mother) had offered to watch him, but I was afraid he’d overwhelm her either with his anxiety or the sheer volume of his active energy, so I wavered, waffling back and forth for several days as Departure Date drew closer. My anxiousness was not eased by the requisite Holiday Family Drama that seems to visit our household each year, but at long last my mother announced that if I wanted to stay in Charlotte while Daddymatic went to his conference, that was fine, but I was not going to be staying in her house. I capitulated but with the stipulation that I was allowed to call every few hours and check in on them and that she would call me if things seemed to be going badly.

I’d like to say I really held it together for my husband’s sake and was cool and everything as we pulled out, but you’d know I was lying. I sobbed and sniveled even as I assured my dear hubs that I would soon be getting a grip and that we’d have a good time. I sat on my hands for 3 hours so I wouldn’t call and bug the caregivers, and when I finally did call, D was napping and Bee-bee sounded fine. They had an active afternoon and evidently he slept pretty well—only woke once for a feeding around midnight. The next day was, by all accounts, a bunch o’fun, too, except maybe for Grampy, who was left alone with a sweet, sleeping baby that suddenly woke up as a wailing, poopy baby. According to Bee-bee, Grampy has never actually changed a diaper before this day, but he took one for the team and stripped the kid down, hosed him off and got him redressed in time for Bee-bee’s arrival home. He regaled us with descriptions of diaper contents that would have killed a lesser man. What a hero.

As for us, I played shuttle service, driving Pops around to his interviews in some of the finer DC hotels, went to the mall to remedy the fact that I’d apparently been so nervous about leaving the baby that I’d forgotten to bring any pants, save the ones I was wearing, and got to eat Ethiopian food in a decidedly un-toddler-friendly restaurant. On the way out of DC, so desperate to see the kid that we were kind of humming along with the engine in an attempt to get us home faster, we realized we’d left Daddymatic’s laptop hidden in our hotel room. After fighting back through midday traffic, giving up 9 forms of picture ID and a blood sample to get the computer back, and scrambling back through the city, we were on our way, slogging as we’d done 2 weeks earlier through the heavy holiday traffic on I-95. It took us 11 hours from the time we first left the hotel until we touched down at Chez Bee-bee and Grampy. I went in to feed the Little Bit at midnight and gawked at how much more hair he seemed to have and how tall he seemed to have grown in the mere two and a half days since I’d seen him last.

Today he’s been a nut, kind of all over the place and, as usual, extremely active, and there were a few times while he was fighting his nap that the  (sing it with me) “Reunited”-esque afterglow seemed to fade, but I realized that while there may be lots of moments with D that I can do without (fighting diaper changes, kicking and thrashing to avoid the nap, whining), being with him always feels Right whether or not it always feels Great.

And feeling Right again really rocks.