I was saving this for Easter, but cannot wait because the angst in my department has grown to Hulk-sized proportions.
It happens every year... someone in our department, usually a woman (but not always), decides to bring home a new baby. While I understand (somewhat) their desire to procreate, since clearly, they were never traumatized by the 'birthing' videos in Health Ed classes, I put together my department's schedule (but I am not the chair). And this event of great joy royally screws up the schedule because the great joy is always accompanied by the great need for a schedule that revolves around new baby… and said 'new parent' becomes someone who:
(1) Needs time off for maternity/paternity leave. I do not begrudge said new parent the time off (if I had something growing inside of me that would potentially scream for the first five years of its life, I'd need more than the six weeks of paid leave our state provides). But I do have to staff their position for a limited time. And while all adjuncts may be clamoring for a job in other areas, our SLAC is in a rural area most people avoid visiting, let alone moving to. This means I now call upon my already-overworked faculty to take on an overload. They are usually less joyful about the impending birth and are no less sleep deprived due to covering said new parent’s classes.
(2) Cannot teach in the mornings (when baby is at her most adorable), cannot teach in the evenings (when baby must be put to bed), and mostly, can only teach between the hours of 12-2 p.m. (when baby is napping and a sitter can be found until new baby is old enough to go to daycare). Or they can teach only on T/Th because this would save them a bazillion dollars in daycare costs if they only had to find a sitter for two days a week. This means having to shift everyone else's schedule to accommodate said new parent so that s/he may have optimal time with new baby (for the next five years!). And those who have chosen to—or for tragic reasons cannot—have a new baby, are seemingly ‘punished’ by having to shift their schedules to accommodate the demands of said new parent.
(3) Has turned into a fatigued human being with a one-track rhetorical mode: baby talk. Renditions of baby’s sleeping, eating, pooing, cooing, crying, screaming, smiling, laughing, throwing, rolling, toddling, bathing activities are cute and new at first. But when students begin to complain that said new parent talks of nothing BUT new baby, it is my job to step in and remind said new parent that s/he really should be less enthusiastic about new baby in a class devoted to discussing the efficacy of a one-world currency (how heartbreakingly sad do you think that conversation always is?). Not only do they have a one-tracked rhetorical mode, but their lack of sleep often renders them less-than-emotionally stable (read ‘snappish’).
The professors whose schedules I am crafting are becoming more and more resentful and “grumbly” now that I have had to ask them to shift their preferred times of teaching to accommodate some form of said new parent more than once in the last few years.
This leads to my thirsty: Is it fair to accommodate a new parent and, therefore, leave others feeling discriminated against for NOT procreating? Is it fair to ask new parent to suck it up because no one asked him or her to procreate? Is it fair to the students to have a new parent who is distracted and on edge because our country does not allow for longer periods of adjustment after such a life-changing event? Is it fair to say that there is no real solution to this problem?