Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

Start-Of-The-School-Year Anxiety Dreams

It's been a long time since September was the season of anxiety dreams for me. I had almost a decade off from living by the academic calendar, but now my older kid's in preschool a couple of days a week, so the First Day of School is a big deal at our house again.

Back when I taught freshman composition at Rutgers, my standard September anxiety dream went like this:
I would dream I was teaching at a high school, and since I'm just under five feet tall and look younger than I am, the administrators would mistake me for a student and force me to go through high school all over again. These dreams typically ended with me shouting futilely, "But wait! I have a Ph.D.! I don't have to be a matriculated student anywhere, ever again!" as a great vortex of wind pulled me back into the classroom. It was sort of like that scene in Return of the Jedi when Boba Fett gets pulled into the maw of the Mighty Sarlacc.

My new anxiety dream goes like this:
I'm desperate enough to take my old freshman composition job back, so I move my husband, my kids, and all of my in-laws back into the ramshackle grad student apartment Dan and I had when we first came to New Jersey. My mother-in-law even comes back from the dead to move in with us. I'm glad to see her, and I could really use the help with child care, but somehow I'm still doing all the housework and all the childrearing. Oh, and the teaching workload for my old job title has increased, which is saying something, since grading the papers used to make it a 70 hour per week gig during the school year. I miss the first meetings of all the classes I'm teaching, because my offspring need diaper changes and potty training help just when I need to go to campus, and nobody in my enormous household will step up in a timely way. Just before I wake, I lament to my baby that "I have to keep this job, or they'll all have moved to New Jersey for nothing."

Waking up from these is a huge relief.

October will be a pretty big relief, too.
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