Often when bloggers take a long sabbatical like this, they come back with some kind of big announcement: I’m pregnant! We’ve moved! I’m writing a book! Unfortunately, none of those are true for me right now (though I do wonder how many people saw the word “pregnant” up above and opened this only to be disappointed -sorryboutthat). Anyway, no news here. No great excuse/explanation. Just life.
Things are busy, as always, and I’ve struggled this winter to find motivation to do much of anything other than the very basics (teaching, parenting, and somewhat managing a house). Also, I think taking that “break” from writing in January got me out of the habit of coming here regularly, and I’ve had a hard time making the blog a priority again. Frankly, most days, I just want to spend any “down time” I find taking a nap or reading a book or something equally bummish. I’m not quitting the blog, and I’m not depressed really, this just is where I am. Maybe you get it?
Anyway, the last few days have been prettier. The sun is shining, I’ve just returned two huge stacks of graded essays (only to collect more of course), and stories are starting to write themselves in my head again. I miss this place.
As I’ve been slowly getting some words to paper (or, to the screen, I guess in this case), I’ve had a bit of a realization: On top of just my general lack of of oomph lately, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of guilt associated with my blog…
For so long, I’ve worked to make this a place of encouragement for working moms (specifically, teacher-moms). I want to send a message that this life – though it is hard – is good and possible. I still believe that it is; but, right now, I need the reminder myself.
January to March is always a hard season for me professionally (and personally too, since the two don’t separate as easily for me as they do for some). I know that in my head, but it doesn’t mean that the same doubts and insecurities don’t creep up just as intensely every year… This is the time of year when I feel a little bit like a fraud here, because… “maybe I can’t actually be a good teacher and a good mom?” The truth is, I’ve felt like I’m failing a lot more lately than I’ve felt like I’m winning.
I don’t feel like the mom who is better because she’s a teacher or the teacher who is better because she is a mom. I just checked the date on that post, and, let’s just say, I think I feel like that person in June (ha). Right now, I feel tired, frazzled, behind, distracted, unorganized, unreliable, and unfun. How’s that for rainbows and butterflies?
I like to win. I like to be positive and make people feel good. But, maybe today – just for this one post – what you and I really need is a reminder that it’s OK to not feel that way all the time. A bad week/month/season/school year doesn’t make me a bad teacher, a bad mom, or even a bad teacher-mom. It makes me human. Normal even.
I want to get back here and start writing again – about silly stuff like podcasts I’ve loved, and how I’m coping with my graying hair, Nora’s upcoming birthday party, and how much my students loved the Serial podcast – but first, I needed to clear the air…
While I DO, genuinely, want to create a place on my blog of light in the dark conversations about education and work-life balance in the world today (and I think we can all agree there is PLENTY of darkness), I want – more than that – to be authentic. I never want a teacher-mom to find this blog and think that I have it together — to think that because they aren’t “perfect,” that they aren’t good at all.
I assure you, I DO NOT, and I AM NOT. This season has been a humbling reminder of that for me…
The teacher-mom life, in my experience, is MESSY. There are times when it really does “work,” and there are times when it just doesn’t. During the latter seasons, it is easy to convince yourself that because it’s hard, you are failing. It’s easy to believe the lies that you aren’t “good enough,” “strong enough,” “organized enough,” etc. to succeed at this, and to start wondering if “giving up” is your only option. Listen, I go there too.
But winter doesn’t last forever.
Like a marriage, or anything worth having for that matter, when we are called to something, we have to WORK for it, and we have to work even when it is hard. In the coldest, grayest days, we cling to the tiny buds of what will, eventually, blossom from our labor — the conversations with kids between classes, the feeling when a lesson plan comes together just right, the kind email from a parent — and we bundle up and endure the rest. Eventually, we’ll get out of the dirt and find the sunshine again.
Spring is coming.
Nichole Miller says
Amen! Great perspective. This teacher-mom life is HARD! And sometimes I think it will get easier as the girls get older but, I think it all just shifts. Spring is coming!
If teaching were just teaching, I’d probably feel differently about my job. But there’s so much more revolving around this workplace that makes it difficult to feel like you’re nailing it ever. And that stuff always translates to my personal life. So I guess I get it. It’s rough.
Linda Williams says
Your words echo so much of what I have been feeling deep in my heart lately. It is good for us to know we have good company as we wait for spring to arrive!
I’m not even a teacher – mom, just a teacher and this season has been tough. We love your posts but I love knowing that you’re with your kiddos and doing life with them more. Don’t feel guilty! You are sharing your life and encouragement with us which is wonderful, but you owe us nothing. Keep doing you. Spring is coming and that gives us all hope.
So good and exactly what I needed. I will probably reread this again today, later this week, and later this month. Probably until I can see the finish line (Spring Break).
Carrie S. says
This was precisely what I needed today – thank you. I’ve been feeling down, bummed, like I can’t finish anything. It’s helpful to know that I’m not alone, and that this shall pass!
Elizabeth Balazs says
E- I have felt ALL of this! After teaching for a decade, I feel like I should have this all together, but this year has been harder than ever. Maybe it’s adding a kindergartener and a toddler to the harried pace of this life? I don’t remember being this drained before – maybe a February dip, but not this abyss that seems to have sucked up all my energy. I realize that life has been a struggle and I’m tired of adulting! And I realize that I can only do a few things well at any one time; so some of the many hats that this teacher, mom, wife, friend, counselor, etc, etc, etc wears must come off for this season and that’s okay. Maybe in June I can put all that stuff back into circulation…
Elizabeth Murphy says
“But winter doesn’t last forever.” Great reminder. I’m exactly where you are right now and just gearing up to sponsor our school’s Safe Grad, which always consumes way more of me than I want it to. It is always so nice to know that our feelings and struggles are not abnormal!
We’ll get through…we have no reason to believe otherwise, because we always have before. 🙂
So I’m not a teacher but life is nuts on a lot of levels right now and I totally understand feeling overwhelmed, distracted, tired, not enough, anxious, and not patient (haha sorry if I’m projecting some of these) I love your perspective though, and especially the last paragraph reminded me of this song by Andrew Peterson “The Dark Before the Dawn” I’ve been listening to it a lot lately… : ) https://youtu.be/Yj1xdUCJsJ4
Right there with you sister!
I loved this. And while I’m not a mother OR a teacher, I can relate to this in a lot of ways. I’m more of a fitness blogger – and I’m going to school for wellness + fitness to eventually have a career in the field I love so dearly. But on the days where I feel “less-than”, I feel like a fraud. I question whether I’m really the right person to take advice from, especially when sometimes I need the advice myself. Thank you for this.
Spring is coming… I can’t wait.
Emily Dowdy says
This is our hard season too! We have a little wood sign that says, “It’s always summer somewhere”! We thought it was totally fitting for a two teacher household! Everyone always asks me how I survive soccer season and I always tell them “June, July, and August”! We can do it!
Oh, how I needed this! As a Mom of 3 under 5, and a 7th grade teacher, this was a breath of fresh air. It’s so nice hearing such a realistic perspective and knowing that I’m not alone. I’m in the last week of school here and I keep muttering, “I can do this… I can do this… I can do this!” 🙂
Thank you for this! I’m a working mom in a different field, but sometimes feel unhinged for swinging back and forth between that “I’ve got this” and “how have I let life become such a disaster?!?” feelings. One day I am so confident that my career choice has been the right one for our family, and the next day I’m convinced I’ve made a horrible mistake…I appreciate the reminder that the days I’m less than sure of myself are just bad days, and they will pass. I don’t need to DO anything drastic in the face of that feeling.
I just resigned my HS teaching job to take care of my preschooler. I just can’t believe that I can be a good mom and a good teacher. Very hard decisions.