Yes, it’s me. The alleged co-author of this blog. I am mindful that this will be my second “Where Have I Been” post; please note it will be my last “Where Have I Been” post and my first as a more committed writer and member of our lovely little community.
As you might remember last year was my first year as a teacher. I’d slogged through a training program, quit my horrible and much-hated job, and began a new career as middle school creative writing instructor. I discovered that while teaching feeds many parts of my soul – creatively, intellectually, and emotionally – it is also the most exhausting thing I have ever done.
Hence the title of this post: one side of this sword-of-change sliced through the scar tissue of my previous existence and liberated my true self; the other side, however, slashes an enormous hole in my energy tank, causing that precious resource to hemorrhage at a terrifying rate. Most times at the end of the day, or week, or month, I was fried and had nothing left to put out there. And when forced to choose between all the great ideas and topics in my head or myself, I chose me.
Summer has given me time to reflect on the positive aspects of this change and, to echo Kathy’s “Under the Wire” post, there are two major successes to report. The first is simple: I finally feel like myself again after many years of … well, not. And while it may seem contradictory to think that interacting with over 100 students a day (and parents and administrators and counselors … the list goes on) makes me a better introvert, it does. All this extroverting contributes towards one of my core personal projects – teaching – and thus makes me happy.
Plus, now I can now be goofy and silly. I can wear blue nail polish and dye my hair pink if I want to and NO ONE WILL CARE. Suppressing this person for so long was bad-exhausting; letting this person out is feels-so-good exhausting. I may be tired, but it is truly wonderful to wake up and know I get to be myself and not someone defined by a job or title.
Another benefit is being a better parent. An example: this spring I actually planned weekend activities. Previously I viewed museum visits or road trips as exercises in energy depletion, and I would often stay home and recharge when Dreamy took Slim and Lunchbox out. Now, especially that it’s summer, I enjoy cooking up adventures for us to have. So far we’ve gone to the movies, a play, museums, AND a few road trips.
Another benefit? I’ve been able to enjoy my children rather than simply managing them. We’ve played games (Lunchbox is a total cheater at “Candyland”), dress-up, and taken long walks together. We’ve cuddled in bed reading books and made up silly games. Am I tired at the end of the day? Yes. But again, it’s a good tired. It’s an “I Did Something Fun” tired. Parenting is also (presumably) one of my core personal projects and spending more time with Slim and Lunchbox has been a huge eye-opener in the best possible way.
Side note: summer has also meant adjusting to a whole new different kind of momhood. The learning curve has been brutal at times. More in my next post.
This year has been tough, with the sword of change whipping back and forth doing its thing. Now, however, in my mind the sword is horizontal and still (kind of like this). I have developed better tools to recognize when I’m veering too close to the negative side and its detrimental effects. “Balance” is not a word I believe in using when discussing career and life management but I can say this: my career and life management “flow” (yay Susan Cain!) is in a good place. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it stays there.