Ready to take an awe-inspiring journey, on no sleep

By Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher, Clarion Herald

The classes are finished, but it’s only the beginning for teachers. Papers need to be graded and final grades submitted. And the e-mails. So many e-mails from students. It’s one of two things: gratitude for the semester, or the need to discuss grades and possibilities for rewrites.

Often, I take a deep sigh and clear my thoughts before responding. Final grades are due in less than a week – there’s no time now to try to make up your grade.

This semester is somewhat different. Alongside the regular stress that builds up at the end of each school year, I’m acutely aware that these are my final moments as a professor at St. Louis University. Come August, we’ll move to Alabama (with the two newest members of our family!). I’ll once again be able to call the South my home, and I’ll take a new position within a very different – but exciting – English department.

So, I savor these final moments. Walking the well-trodden paths of campus, recalling specific areas and memories associated with them. It’s been nine years since I moved to the city that became my second home, and it’s a bittersweet goodbye.

A goodbye not only to the campus and the wonderful students and colleagues that I’ve had over the past years, but a goodbye to a specific chapter in my life. In these past years, goals and dreams have been achieved. I moved to St. Louis directly after undergraduate to pursue my master’s and then my doctorate.

I started my married life here, getting to know myself in the role of wife. My husband and I formed lasting friendships and grew together as a couple.

It’s a goodbye to a specific way of life.

But it’s also an anticipation and welcoming of the new life to come. It’s fitting, then, that just at the moment that we grow as a family, we’re also transitioning into a new environment.

And a new form of chaos.

I’m under no illusion that my definitions of “busy” and “stress” will be expanded in just a few months. As Prince William recently joked following the arrival of Prince Harry’s newborn son, I’ll be joining the “sleep deprivation society” known as parenting.

The currently never-ending “to-do” list will continue to grow. The extra time that I currently have for new projects will diminish. I’ll learn a new way of multi-tasking that will allow me to be both a successful mother and professional.

But above all, what I’ve learned is the necessity of patience. Not only with those around me – my students have certainly taught me that! But with myself. Motherhood is an awe-inspiring journey, but it’s also a difficult one that takes time for adjustment.

And so, in this, as in all things, I continue to place my trust in God. He’s taken me this far. He won’t abandon me now.

Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at

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