Tuesday, July 5, 2016

12 Month Human - My Reflections

As part of my morning wake-up, when the dew is still glistening on the blades of grass and the birds are exchanging their high-pitched hellos, I am perusing my social media sites for inspiration. Sometimes it's a clever meme that makes me smile; often it's a word or two from a member of my PLN that diverts my attention and causes me to ponder. Today it was a blog post that lit a fire in my soul, causing my spirit to shake and shout, "YES! THIS!" 
I am a 12 month human.
In today's 4 O'Clock Faculty post, Donna Donner (@DonnaADonner) illustrates with painstaking truth the struggles we have as educator moms (and dads!) trying to find balance in all that we do.
I. Struggle. Daily.
Like many of you reading these words, I find myself caught in the never-ending swirl of self-imposed perfectionism. I want to be the best I can be in all the roles I maintain. In my role as technology integrator, I bob along the waters of my profession as the waves ebb and flow. My contract clearly states each year that I am employed for only 10 months, with two months of vacation time to spend as I see fit. However, I find that I never stop learning, never stop sharing, never stop enhancing my craft with every opportunity that comes my way.
I'm also a mom.
I have three children ranging in age from 6 to 17. I guard my "summer break" with such ferociousness, you might compare me to a Mama Bear protecting her cubs in the middle of a forest filled with campers. My summers are for my children. They are the few weeks a year that I get to fully immerse myself in motherhood. I use my summer-break-mom-mode to relieve some of the guilt I harbor from being so crazy busy during the ten-month school year. I travel with my family to unique locations. I make forts, prepare picnics, and visit libraries. I revel in the joy of making omelets for breakfast and eating ice cream cones during an after-dinner walk through my neighborhood. I soak up the simplicity of childhood and breathe in the air of contentment.
But at the end of the day, I'm still a 12 month human.
Work is never far from my mind. Wait, scratch that. "Work" is not work; "Work" is my passion. I'm an educator. A learner. A leader. I'm a walking conglomerate of all these parts, all the time, with one role shining brighter than the other depending on the season or need.
Each year I choose to spend one of my precious "vacation" weeks immersed in professional learning with amazing educators from across the world. This time last week I was going, going, going, 24/7, complete "fill me to overflowing" mode at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Denver, CO. My brain is still swirling, my sponge of learning leaking, as I try to organize my thoughts from that expereience into words.
I am now in Week 3 of my summer-break-mom-mode. Week 1 was spent unpacking children's backpacks and putting the final touches on my ISTE presentations. Week 2 was spent immersing myself at the conference as I helped my daughter write a college reference letter request through Google Docs. Week 3 has me returning from a 48 hour family beach trip with overflowing ideas on how to transform student and teacher learning.
I am a 12 month human.
Donna Donner's words remind me that I don't have to choose between one or the other. I'm an educator. I'm a mom. I'm a thousand other things as well, that never actually stop, but fall back from the limelight of the center stage to patiently wait in the wings for the next act to begin.
It's ok to do it all. 
It's ok to feel the tug of one role over the other.
It is NOT ok to harbor guilt or feel inadequate because one role shines brighter than the other in various moments of our lives.
It's about balance. It's about acceptance. It's about taking all the bits and pieces that make you YOU and rotating them around from time-to-time so that all the parts receive a spark of sunlight.
I am thankful I don't have to choose between being an educator and being a mom. I am so blessed to do both! I am appreciative to have a supportive PLN that encourages me to write, reflect, and share about ALL my passions, whether it's random acts of kindness, personalized PD, or my favorite #TeachersWrite summer camp
(Sidebar plug for #TeachersWrite - if you want to grow as a writer and learn how to engage students through the craft of writing, please make sure to check out Kate Messner's blog! We are entering Week 2 and it's never too late to jump in!)
Thank you for recognizing the truth when I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
I am a 12 month human.
And so are you.