As the holidays draw closer and we are nearly half way through our school year, I’ve been reflecting on how things have been going. What has been working – what needs revamping – what needs to be thrown in file 13 (a term I picked up for the trash can). This year already has been a year like no other. Of course, every year is different because every child is different. Adding to the ever-changing landscape of my career currently are variables of a more personal nature. So, obviously, this post is more personal.
For all the years I have been teaching (almost ten now), my students and my job have been a top priority. I have been, and forever will probably be, guilty of bringing my work home – physically (books and plans and papers) and more often, emotionally. Wholeheartedly, my kids are my kids – and always will be. There have not been many moments where anything or anyone else took precedence. I don’t mean this to sound like nothing else matters or that no one else matters. There has just been a level of dedication I have been able to afford to my job. I have been able to come in early (ha) and stay late (way late) without worry of someone waiting for me to come home. I have been able to spend countless amounts on my classroom and my students without the feeling that my savings account is more important. I have been able to attend sporting events, birthday parties, and extra curricular events without it majorly affecting anyone else’s schedule. I have been able to go to work, for the most part, and be 150% present for my students.
Which brings us to this year – different from any other. My personal variables are changing. The outcome of these variables is creating a feeling of doubt. I am questioning whether the best I am giving is really my best – or am I grading myself too hard because it’s a different kind of best? Is there a sliding scale of best?
Just 10 days ago, I got married. What a wonderful day it was! It was the closest to perfect we could have imagined. I began the school year in the middle of wedding plans and big dreams for my new group of kiddos. I also began the school year with heart breaking concern over my terminally ill grandmother, a new leadership role as grade level representative and taking on a new professional learning opportunity. Plenty of irons on the fire – usually how I like it – frazzled and busy makes my blood pump and keeps my mind invigorated. This time, frazzled and busy left me feeling scatter-brained and self conscious. I constantly was worried that I was forgetting something. I had to leave post it notes everywhere for myself. I was constantly feeling like I was letting my colleagues and my students down because I just couldn’t focus on one thing or the other. I could feel the personal drifting into the professional – and sometimes the personal felt more urgent. And yet, I was so excited for the wedding. So excited for my new professional opportunities. So excited for what the future has in store for my life.
For the wedding, I was fortunate enough to be able to take 5 days off work. During those 5 days, my students crossed my mind maybe 3-5 times. Many people told me before I left to not think about work at all, to not worry about the kids, to enjoy my days. And friends – I did not worry about work like I thought I would. I did not think about my kids like I thought I would. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I took for our wedding and the first few days of married life with my husband. THIS. ROCKED. MY. WORLD. For the first time, my job and my students were not taking precedence. Although I still LOVE my job and LOVE my students, I felt a shift. A shift from being EVERYTHING to one of MANY important things. And I feel horribly guilty.
When I think about the future life my husband and I have planned for ourselves, I see that this shift is here to stay. As I find myself taking on the role of wife – will I still stay as late at school or will I want to rush home to put supper on the table? When we have a family – will I bring home as much from work or will I be better able to compartmentalize work emotions? Even as I am typing the questions, I know the answers. What I do not know, is how to reconcile this within myself. I do not know how to not feel guilty over this.
How do you accept a different level of best?