Sunday, May 28, 2017

After 20 years, I can say he's my best friend

D and I returned the other day from our 20th anniversary trip to Quebec.

Our wedding date is in November, but with N's field hockey schedule and the busyness of activities in the fall AND the fact that Quebec weather gets cold that time of year, we opted for a May trip.

We had a lovely, lovely time.
It was nice to have uninterrupted conversations with each other.
It was nice to sit and walk in silence with each other.
It was nice to enjoy each other's sense of humor.

On the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.

We have decided to stay married until November, and then we will reevaluate every year as per our normal.

I have said this before, and I will say it again, but I take great pride in being married for this long.

It is a testament to working through the regular, mundane shit of life, as well as the bigger unfortunate things, like parents dying and illness and unexpected expenses.  All the sickness and health and richer and poorer business.

For many years, I fought against being married.
That sounds funny, especially since I did want to be married.

I fought against the ridiculous societal idea of couplehood in a marriage. I kept my name. I strove to have my own identity separate from D. I resented the notion that as soon as we married we were no longer him and her but a big nebulous mass of "we."

We haven't ever subscribed to that whole "togetherness" idea of doing things we each hate just to make the other person happy. Sometimes I see couples and it seems to me that one of them is just there in misery to keep the other person from lording it over that "you never want to do what I want to do."

D and I have never really done that. In our early days, I never played video games with him just to make him happy. I hate video games.

One time in our very young marriage, we went grocery shopping together, and it was miserable. He hated it, and I hated him being there because he hated being there and drudged along, six feet behind me. That concluded our days of shopping together.

The things we both enjoy we do together. The things the other person doesn't enjoy, we don't ask them to do. It works for us.

I fought against the idea that D was supposed to be my best friend, but I think I can say after 20 years and 3 kids and 2 houses and yadda-yadda that he is my best friend. He has been through everything with me these two decades.

Being my best friend doesn't mean he fulfills every need I have. There is a reason I have my girlfriends, my mentors, my mother.
But he is a very good complement to my personality.
I think that is what a best friend is supposed to be.

On the AML Louis Jolliet, St. Lawrence River

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trump, hysteria and language/speech

I do not know whether there was actually any collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice in what Trump said to Comey.  I wouldn't say I'm particularly eager to find out because it would be a blow to the republic. In an already much-divided country, it would further divide people. There would be much gloating on one end of the political spectrum and much denying on the other.

What I continue to think about is how much speech and language matter.

Like in the alleged statement Trump made about Mike Flynn to Comey about Flynn being a good guy and letting this go.

Was Trump asking Comey to actually stop investigating Flynn or was he just talking in the Trump way without much consideration to what his words mean and how they are perceived by others?

I don't know, but it matters.

What I think is both fascinating and sad is how what Trump says would not be tolerated in any other professional capacity, and yet it is tolerated in the president.

If a student had done something seriously wrong, worthy of expulsion or criminal charges, and a principal told a teacher that the kid is a good guy and to just let it go, would people perceive this differently than they do what Trump says?  Could the principal get away with saying, "I was just talking in that way I talk; it can't be taken seriously?"

I don't know, but it matters.

If a doctor had done something seriously wrong, worthy of criminal charges, and a hospital administrator told the nurse who had been in the ER when it happened that the doc is a good guy and to just let it go, would people perceive this differently than they do what Trump says?

Speech matters, regardless of what you intend.

Being an outsider and offering a fresh viewpoint can be a very beneficial thing, and in most cases I think it is a good idea. But being an outsider without any skills of observation or pause or restraint is not a good idea.

Being honest does not mean conveying every thought that runs through your consciousness.  When I read the definition of honest, it actually means a lot of things. Free from deception, but sometimes we can be deceived by our own perceptions of the world. Honest means humble and plain, and I don't see much that is humble about 45. Honest means reputable and respectable, and I'm afraid those don't define the president either, at least in my book.

I have never, ever been a fan of people who run off at the mouth.
Even when I appear to run off at the mouth, I know full well what I am saying and the audience to whom I am saying it.

So as much as I despise Trump's running off at the mouth and the keypad on Twitter, I also am having a hard time with the hysteria of those who keep yelling "impeachment" without, perhaps, a clear understanding of what that requires. I recently heard part of Barbara Jordan's speech at the Nixon impeachment and a discussion about maladministration not being grounds for impeachment. As much as I personally think the Trump administration is a series of dumpster fires of its own making, I withhold judgment on illegal activities until I have definitive proof. There seems to be some running off at the mouth among those who abhor Trump as well.

I can take everyone a lot more seriously if they spend a little more time thinking through their thoughts than just blasting them into the public realm.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I KNOW lots of other women do it, but

Let's go 1938.

My mom's dad died at age 40, leaving my grandmother with a newborn, a 3-year-old and four other kids.  She had to work, and my mother knew it. But I spent my formative years hearing the story of how my mom loved the days when her mom was off of work because her mom was home when she got in from school.  This experience in my mom's life made her insist on being at home with her kids during their formative years. She worked part-time at my elementary school after my brother started school for many years until her breast cancer diagnosis in 1996. 

If there is any other refrain that still plays in my head, it is my mother saying repeatedly, "I will NOT raise my grandkids." This was part of her badger-your-daughter-to-death-so-she-doesn't-accidentally-get-pregnant" plan.

Fast forward to me.  I didn't even want kids when I married, nor did D, but we adopted my mom's advice to live on one salary from the second we married so that IF we ever had kids, I could stay home with them IF I wanted to.

I didn't think about childcare until I was newly pregnant with N and did some summer portfolio scoring with another newly pregnant teacher who also had an 18-month-old.  It was then that my eyes were opened to the "You mean I have to pay a daycare in the summer even though I'm not working during the summer?" situation.

By the time I told others I was pregnant, I had decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I knew the grandparents would not "raise" my kids, and I knew I didn't trust anyone else besides myself to do it well. 

Being a stay-at-home mom was the best and the suckiest experience of my life. It gifted me years of time with my children and stole years of salary and professional experience from me. 

I have spent this past school year subbing pretty frequently at my former middle school---three days this week--and it has made me miss it terribly.  

But not terribly enough to go back full-time.  

When I am asked about returning full-time (and I am, often), I come out with a comment like,
"I'm still freakishly attached to my children."  And that is true.  This morning, M called my cell phone because he misses me when I sub too many early mornings in a row, and it killed my heart a little bit to know this. 

And subbing is not my only job.  I want to teach at the cottage school because of the freedom I have there.  And I want to write for the magazines because I love to write. And I want the flexibility of being able to visit with my mom, who just turned 79 and will not live forever.

I think I feel like I'm letting someone down, even though I'm not.  Some group of nebulous students who don't know they miss having me as a teacher?  A group of teachers who might like the idea of working with me because I seem pretty great?  Is that why I feel guilt, like I'm letting them down because I am not working with them full-time?  It is stupid to feel guilty for feeling this way, but I think I do.  

Maybe guilt isn't even what I'm feeling.  If that is the case, then I don't know what to call it.  
Maybe longing is the right word.  I feel a longing to do something I left a long time ago but don't want to do full-time, at least not right now. 

When I think about my experience, and I think about what I will tell my own daughter about her own career path and her parenthood path (if she chooses it), I'm not sure what to tell her.

You can have it all, but not all at once?
You can have it all, but you will be freaking tired and feel like you're not giving anything 100%?
You can have most of it, but you will still feel guilt and longing and like you missed out on something even though you wouldn't change it if you could go back again?
Just give up the idea that you can have it all because no one has ever had it all in the history of humankind.  It is a myth?

And I know that LOTS and LOTS of other women have been teachers and have managed to do it, but I haven't managed to do it, which makes me feel like maybe I suck.  Hell, I haven't even tried to do it. I just flat out said, "I'm not even going to try because I think it would be dismal for me and my family because I know how I am." 
(I'm the sub who left sub plans for tomorrow's sub---that is how freakishly organized and anal I am.)
Maybe I'm just a big pussy? Maybe that is what I feel?  Ashamed?  

But this that I am doing, this cottage school teaching and this minimal subbing and this freelance writing, is as close to having it all as I can figure out at the moment.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Talking out both sides of my mouth: The state-test letter

It's that time again....state-testing time!

The time when the conscientious kids wind themselves into balls of anxiety, reminding their parents to feed them high-protein breakfasts and put them to bed early.

The time when the kids who don't give a shit continue to not give a shit.

The time when the kids who care and just don't get it continue to care, just not get it, and then have whatever pittance of self-esteem they still possess dashed.  Again.

The time when parents are encouraged and/or instructed to write their 3rd graders letters of encouragement.

I did this with N, and I did it with G, and I still don't think I'm doing it correctly.
Am I supposed to say that this test is important?
Because it is within the window of right this second.............
......and it is totally unimportant within the window of the entire rest of their lives.

Like the unimportance of my ACT, my SAT, my GRE, and my PRAXIS.
Completely irrelevant in this moment.
There are times I wish I could sprinkle a little dash of magic fairy perspective on my children's heads so they wouldn't wind themselves into fetal balls of fretfulness.