So one of two things is happening: either I'm going crazy, or I just need to accept the fact that I have a love/hate relationship with my life at the moment. As a wife, mom of a toddler, and middle school teacher it's entirely possible that I have indeed gone crazy--yet, none of these roles are ones I want to give up, at least not in this moment on a peaceful Saturday morning when I'm writing, sipping coffee, and listening to...silence. Ask me again this afternoon, say around 5:00.
And herein lies the problem. Regardless of which role it is, the pattern is the same--there are times I love my job
as a wife
as a mother
as a teacher
and other times I quite honestly want to throw in the towel. It seems that just when I feel on fire, happy, and like I have it all figured out--something happens that sends me into the downward spiral. The one where I'm telling myself "I can't do this anymore". Whether it's a full-blown meltdown from my toddler after a long day at work, yet another fight with my husband over the s-a-m-e d-a-m-n t-h-I-n-g again, or that moment when I'm actually semi-caught-up at work only to be pulled under again, the internal monologue is the same. (And it's pretty epic if all of this happens at the same time.) The frustration is so palpable it feels like it might eat me alive and I ask myself the same thing every time: what the bleep did I get myself into? And how do I get out?
But what really makes me question my sanity is that only a few moments later, I can fall in love with that same hot mess all over again (although most times it's not so right away). My son can go from screaming maniac yelling "leave me alone!" to giving me the most sincere hug and kiss that sends love throughout my body right down to the core of my soul, and all is well again for the moment.
I'm no expert, but I think it's a toddler's ability to feel the emotions of the present moment--overwhelming frustration or overwhelming joy--without the ability to carry over old resentments that allows them to so easily flip a switch. They're totally in the "here and now": when they're angry they totally embrace being mad, and when they're happy they're all in there, too. And I think it's from watching him that I'm learning it's okay for me to do the same.
Whether the conflict is with my job, my marriage, or my child, my ego wants so desperately to fight to hang onto all my reasons why I'm entitled to want out at that moment--all the built-up resentments, the never ending cycle of frustration. I fight tooth and nail to hang onto my agenda when my husband & I are fighting, but then I see him doing something a bit later that makes me totally swoon and I feel that love rise up and I have a choice: to hang onto the reasons I'm angry, or to shake my head at the craziness of this life and surrender to the love and embrace the fact that this is marriage--I love it sometimes, and other times I don't. And the same holds true in my life as a teacher and mom.
In this crazy stage of life as a teacher, wife, and toddler mom simultaneously--all very difficult roles that make me feel like throwing in the towel one minute, and feel lit up & inspired the next--I suppose the best solution is to just surrender and accept that I have a love/hate relationship with my life at the moment. To let go of the idea that one day I will magically "arrive" at this destination of happiness--this image I've created in my head of what it will look like one day when I'm no longer having those frustrated thoughts, and I've found the key to having my life in perfect order...
I made it to the gym everyday...
Classroom and house are caught up...
Husband and kids are smiling, well-fed, and finding clean towels readily available...
And--best of all--I'm my ideal version of me because I figured it all out.
Whether it's in regard to our families, homes, bodies, or careers, we all have that illusion in some form or another--that Ideal Self we're always striving for--and we beat ourselves up for not having figured out how to get there yet. The problem is that day will never arrive and, all those days in the meantime waiting to figure it out? Those were the days that made up our lives.
So I'm not waiting anymore. I've got to learn to simply embrace the messiness of life right now, otherwise it will just pass me by. I don't have any magic solutions for how to get there, but I think it could start by just waking up each day thankful that I get another one...thankful that I do have a job, husband, and child to frustrate me, because many people's burden to carry is NOT having those things to be frustrated with.
But, at the same time, this tape in our heads that says "shame on you, you should be thankful, not complaining" when we ARE frustrated, doesn't really serve to make our hearts feel thankful in that moment, it just serves to shame us. In those frustrated moments we WILL return to feeling thankful again, but only after we've let ourselves feel what we feel. I know in my heart that if I deny that moment, pretend the thoughts aren't there, put on a happy face, and don't shed the tears or scream in the pillow, that I will walk around like some kind of robotic Stepford wife that looks great on the outside but feels desperate on the inside, and that's not what I want. If I want to live a real and authentic life, which I do, I have to embrace both the dark and the light--to be like my toddler and fully accept whatever it is I'm feeling in that moment, because it CAN be really messy sometimes.
Holy moly, it's been a minute since I've blogged.
Ok, maybe more like a year and a half. Whoops.
To be more accurate, a year and a half ago was when I started North Star Coaching & Consulting, a passion project I embarked on after I'd been a stay-at-home mom for awhile and was missing the world of education. I wanted to work with kids, but in a more holistic way, and I also wanted to be able to coach and collaborate with teachers. So I started the business with two goals in mind:
1-to coach students in the home, working toward academic, behavioral, and/or social/emotional goals and
2-to share resources and strategies with teachers that would help them with planning lessons, classroom management, work-life balance...whatever their needs might be
At first, it was going great. I began working with students right away and there seemed to be a need for it, especially in the homeschool population. But, as with any new business, it takes awhile to really get the income flowing. You get some in, and most of it goes out to expenses. By the time Easton was approaching two, we really needed me to be contributing in a bigger way financially. Teaching still called to me but I was worried that, if I returned to the classroom, my new project that I loved would be put on the backburner (especially now that I was a mom). After hearing that my former principal, a leader I really enjoyed working for, had an available position at a local middle school, I decided to go for it, figuring that I could put the in-home work I'd done with kids on hold until I got back in the groove of working full time. I assumed that fairly soon I would be able to return to my North Star work, at least part-time, and begin to build the business back up again slowly.
Well, we know what they say about assuming...
Once I got started, I quickly remembered how overwhelming the workload was as a teacher and between taking care of Easton, the house, making meals, and taking care of schoolwork, finding time for anything else was near impossible. Within about six months, without a creative endeavor or hobby to call my own, the predictable happened--I began to burn out and feel angry at myself for letting go of a dream that had meant so much to me. I knew I needed to somehow, for my own sanity, at least dabble in some kind of creative project just to have something to call my own--something outside of work and family that I could feel excited about! I started to reflect on what I had created with North Star and also on the things I'd done in the past that excited me the most (I've explored with my creativity lots over the years and have had many "passion projects"!). What I realized was that the common thread throughout all my creative endeavors was that I had always journaled or kept a blog about my experiences, and it was always writing about the experience, more than the experience itself, that excited me (which might explain the huge box of journals I've kept stashed away in my room over the years). Throughout my life, writing has always been the thing I can turn to in order to make sense out of life.
I wanted to revisit the work I'd done with teachers and students through North Star but, this time around, I wanted to focus more on writing and sharing the ideas that excited me--this time from the new perspective of teaching while being a mom. I also hoped, in the process, to build a community of other teacher-moms trying to juggle it all. If I was feeling overwhelmed teaching with only one child at home, I knew other moms were feeling it, too. So I used the philosophy behind North Star (the T.E.A.C.H. framework) as the inspiration for a blog, so that I could satisfy my urge to write and my urge to share ideas about education and motherhood--all topics I'm passionate about. Since time was an issue, I knew I'd have to get creative to keep my blog a priority. There's no magic formula for how I figured it out--I'm still trying to figure it out! I just take it a day at a time and carve out a little time to write whenever I can steal a moment. (I lucked out tonight, this happened by 9:00!)
I kind of see my life now as a teacher, blogger, and mom of a toddler as a never ending doggy paddle--always trying to keep my head above water...rarely, if ever, lying back to float. It's a rewarding life, but one of never-ending guilt--if I'm caught up on laundry and packing lunches and cleaning, then I'm behind on lesson plans & grading....if I'm caught up at school, then Easton has no clean socks and we're ordering pizza way too often. Not to mention exercise, which used to be such a big part of my life--I'm lucky if I can squeeze in a run once a week (which doesn't compliment the pizza diet well). I wouldn't say I've "given up" on balance, it's just that I've surrendered to the motto "I'm doing my best" and to the idea that I won't do any of these roles perfectly. I knew the content of my blog this time around would mostly be about my life as a teacher-mom, but I also wanted permission just to write about life in general--about whatever was on my mind & heart, regardless of where my journey took me. Whether you're a teacher-mom, a working mom in another profession, or a stay-at-home mom (I've been all 3!) it's hard, and there are struggles that we all can relate to. Above all else, I just wanted to have a place where I could be real and tell the truth.
And that's pretty much where I'm at now. At the moment, blogging about whatever's on my mind & heart, teaching-related or not, is what I feel I need creatively and about all I can handle time-wise anyway. Where my journey with North Star goes in the future I'm not sure. I do know that will always be excited to talk parenting, teaching, and inspiration! I hope, if any of this connects with you, that you'll follow me on social media by clicking on the social icons at the top of the page. For teaching resources & inspiration, follow me on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers. And please leave a comment below!