Lesson one: The power of punctuation
I was going to list my “titles” in my header with the question marks above to indicate the confusion of which really identified me, but then I decided that step one was owning it: I am all three. While the first two take turns taking the lead in my life, and I may not exactly know how to look the part of juggler of all three, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t all there. They are. Period.
Motherhood has transformed me (I know, all the girls say that!), but it’s so true. All people have arrived on this planet in pretty much the same way, but dang! what a mind-blowing, magical, out-of-this world experience! Sure it’s hard work, but I have yet to complain that it’s hard. It’s just so damn rewarding. Love like no other. Sure, sometimes I’m tired and fried and am counting the minutes until she goes to bed, bribing my husband to do bath time and bed time just so I can check out early, but I still look at her and think the whole purpose of the history of the world was to bring Bell into existence.
I work full time as an English teacher for 10th and 11th graders. This means that I get to work at 8am, teach 5 classes in 7 hours, and do my very best to leave as close to 430pm as possible to relieve my mother-in-law of toddler duty (Bell is 21 months). Before Bell was born, I stayed at work every single night until 7 or 8pm – I was never very good at working at home. When I was pregnant, Sean implored me to learn how to work only while I was at work and to come home by 5 – he pointed out that I wouldn’t have a choice once the baby had arrived. He was right. What I learned then, is how to get the kid between 4 and 5pm, come home make dinner, do bath/bedtime and then work at home after she’s asleep. And yes, I still work on the weekends. Bottom line: teachers work as much in 9 months as most people do in 12, so no, summer off does not mean teachers work less. (Sorry that sounded so bitter – teachers have fielded a lot of insults lately about not deserving our pay.)
I love teaching for all of the rewarding elements: the relationships with the students, the satisfaction of seeing young people grow and learn, the thrill of feeling successful and competent, my unparalleled camaraderie with my colleagues/friends, and yes, holidays and summers off. But damn, it’s a hard job – it’s an emotional roller coaster, never-ending, hard on my family and frustrating beyond all belief. And no, it’s not the students that make it hard or make me want to quit. Ever.
I know that to be a writer, one must write, but I’m sorry: I almost never write (fiction – I write professionally and journal almost every day), but I still know it’s in my bones. I am my best self when I do.
Here’s to being a mother. Here’s to being a teacher. And here’s to being a writer. It feels scary to say those so definitively, to say each loudly and proudly, but that’s my aim – that’s the direction in which I’m moving. Let’s go.