Jean Kazez’s essay opens the third section of the book, Recovering Academic, and tells the story of her gradual departure from tenure-track teaching after her twins were born. “This was no easy decision,” she writes, “After telling my department head I was interested in adjunct teaching, I felt like a boat cut from its moorings, drifting into the open sea.” But it was necessary for her family, and she found that as an adjunct she could develop and teach new courses that became a stepping stone to a new phase in her career, writing “enjoyable, accessible philosophy” and publishing a book, The Weight of Things.
But despite her real success, Jean’s essay expresses some healthy ambivalence:
“In an ideal world I’d have a full-time job and my writing would earn me a predictable salary and benefits as well as pie-in-the-sky royalties. I wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of depending so heavily on my husband’s income; it wasn’t a problem when I was taking care of our children full time, but now, as the mother of two ten-year-olds who are in school all day, it does feel like an indignity. Have I landed in this spot because the academic workplace is ill adapted to mothers? I don’t think that’s exactly true: I think the academic workplace is ill adapted to everyone.”
Today, Jean reports, “Since I wrote “The Long and Winding Road,” I’ve stopped being the mother of two semi-cuddly 9 year olds and started being the mother of two interesting
12 year olds. Same kids–but what a difference three years makes! I’ve also written a new book, Animalkind: What We Owe to Animals, coming out in February 2010. I’m still teaching part-time at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and still mulling over the whole package–parenting, writing, part-time teaching. Some of that mulling may make it into my next writing project, which is about the philosophical questions we inevitably bump into as parents.”
We’re looking forward to reading more of Jean’s work; in the meantime, you can find out more about Jean and her projects at her blog, In Living Color.