Usually by the oppressive month of August I miss everything about school. At the Dotson house, we are all bored to tears and its just too damned hot to force thd kids to play outside. With everyone inside, we begin to slow descent into Crazyville.
I live for the crazy! Bring it on! But by August I am craving the early bed times and choreographed months of the school year, like every other parent, even if they won't admit it on Facebook. I thrive on the rigidity for my children as well as myself. I am well aware that all children need structure, but most adults do too. If my kids were left in my care alone, I'm sure I would drive us all nuts, and probably plow head - long into an 18 - wheeler, whilst fighting for control over the air conditioner or snack bag (oops....bad joke...too soon?). My point, although badly made, is that the beginning of the school is hella busy, but like any new beginning, a worthwhile adjustment. I am thankful the school day brings a level of discipline and focus that I cannot give my own kids. I think it is because I lack that quality within myself actually.
I only got to spend 7 hours in my classroom today putting up bulletin boards for the groups that I am a sponsor for this year- the Bloomington high school senior class of 2015, National Honors Society, and then there's that little old English class that will dominate most of my attention. And I packed up today conflicted between staying and working or going home to feed my family. Family won that time, but it will be an uphill battle like always.
And I had no time to write today....
As most teachers understand, teaching is a selfless profession, and can sometimes leave less than equal share for family or personal time. Most teachers are guilty of putting in too many hours, and on occasion I am one of those as well. And don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job very much. You have heard me say often that I love my students, and it's true. Their sarcasm, wit, pretty smiles or disgusted frowns, and even the teenage ignorance and body odor. I know what you're thinking- that is a heady concoction for anyone to resist. Why in the world would I ever trade such a job for more money and less stress? Wait......I'm sorry, there was a point in there somewhere. I must have lost it! Those who understand intrinsic motivation will get it. For everyone else, go spend your money.
But there is another side to my life that is becoming less and less overlooked, and more celebrated - and that is my life as a writer. My need to write and my job as a teacher used to be a major juxtaposition. Reading Specialists and Balanced Literacy fans will say, "No, to teach, you also must be able to model." But I am speaking mainly about the part of me that wants to tuck myself away, speak to no one and pull the words from my head for no one's sake but my own. I want to build stories, not for you, the reader, but for me. Me! Everyone else can go fry that molten Texas sun.
For many years I locked away the stories and characters running through my head as just an unnecessary indulgence. I had no time for frivolity, I was the busy wife of a football coach, with umpteen children and a serious addiction to everyone else's chick lit. I love to read, but it wasn't enough just to read other people's books. I desperately wanted to create one of my own. I said things to myself like, "No one would ever want to read anything I wrote anyway." or "I'm not a professional writer." and most importantly "Writing is selfish."
Writing is selfish! What a horrible thing to think, but it's true. Writing is instrinsic, it is only about the author (me) and the world I'm inhabiting. My writing served no added purpose as a classroom teacher- in fact it drew my focus away from my own students' needs as they master English (which was usually the smallest demon they encountered during the day). My writing took away from them, and it also took time away from my own children. I spent my twenties convincing myself my logic was sound.
Those of you who are writers know this is just dumb. Writing might be selfish, but it's my relsease. It's a celebration, an expression of the self, a gift that only I can give to the world. It is a gift from the Lord. Besides the toilet, written language is the greatest thing civilization gave to the human race.
And the greatest thing about it- everyone can do it. I don't say that because I am a teacher, I say that because I am a writer. I truly believe everyone can be a writer, the author of their own story- it's just the media that vary from person to person.
By letting go of my ill-conceived ideas that writing was a purely selfish endeavor, I now understand (and teach) the importance of writing- and not just for testing purposes. My identity as an author doesn't take away from my profession as a teacher, it enhances it. I made peace with both sides of my nature knowing writing is my release, my children and students are my legacy. In order for me to be a good teacher, a good mom, a good wife, I must be true to myself as a writer.
So tomorrow, amidst the lesson planning and schedule making, I will pull out my peanut butter and nutella sandwich and spend my lunch time working on a manuscript, feeling confident the time spent will help prepare me for the new adventures, new faces, and dirty dishes that await me this school year. And just maybe I'll finish it and inspire my own children and students to embrace their ability as writers.
Wish me luck!