Another Trip Around the Sun
Life has caught up with me and I regret that I haven’t been able to carve out time to blog like I wish I had. So many things have been going on in my world of theatre and education, however, in the spirit of Judd and mine’s promise to stay present and authentic, we will catch up on those things later on. Today is my 31st birthday, and as one is when they become another year older, I am feeling reflective tonight on the year that has past and the year ahead of me.
January birthdays are often cold, snowy and an afterthought from the holidays, but I actually really like the beginning of the year marking a new age, a blank slate, a new opportunity to make things happen and to look back on how I have changed. This past year was one of the most life-changing. Highly rewarding in the new role of becoming a mother, but also highly disappointing as stories and occurrences unfold each day that affect the future of my child.
This year has made me realize that there is no matter how prepared or instinctual I thought I would be as a mother, there is no way I could ever do this alone. I am so extremely lucky that I am with a man who is ten times more patient, calm, attentive and forgiving than I am. Nights without sleep, friends disappearing due to our inavailability, not having a real ‘date night’ in months, seeing our bank account deplete, dropping our baby off at daycare for the first time (and second time, and third time) all of these instances are trying on a partnership that has just become new parents together. But somehow the stars aligned that my partner is one who balances my strengths and deficiencies so beautifully, and I think we are doing an alright job at this.
This year has also made me become more forgiving of myself. The demand to be a good mom, good teacher, good friend, wife, daughter, family member has never been more present. And I have struggled with PPD, not being able to breastfeed, poor body image, and questioning my own ability and choice to be able to do all of this. More often than not though, I have laid down to bed at night and been thoroughly satisfied with all I had accomplished in a day. Maybe I didn’t make it to the gym, but I did teach all day, make dinner and have a little playtime with my kiddo. Maybe my husband and I did not get to spend time together like we used to on the couch, but it makes that rare afternoon that much more special. I forgive myself when the moments I worked hard for are right in front of me, and I savor them. As each difficult or busy week’s schedule passes, more amazing moments of balance and beauty and love surface. She starts to smile, laugh, sing, CRAWL (what a birthday present!) discover new things, and I start to see the world through a whole different lens. Time has gone by so fast, because every moment I get to be with my little family, soaking in her curiosity, her joy and her newness to this world, I remember that I am capable of doing this awesome and rewarding job.
This year also has framed a new way for me to process and make sense of the world around me. 2017 started with a very shocking jolt, and has continued to present itself with ugly truths about the world we live in. I am disgusted and disappointed with the things that I hear said by our nation’s leader, and I directly see this impacting my middle and high school classrooms. There is a disregard to respectful language and argumentative rhetoric in professional and academic settings. This precedent has been set by powerful people, and while yes, we are free to speak what we believe, I believe we are not free to demonstrate those thoughts in assumptive, intrusive and hurtful language. I try to expose my students to ways in which they can make sense of the world around them, by using theatre, performance, inspiring and persuasive, thoughtful speech to begin dialogue between communities of difference.
This is not always easy. I have found myself in situations and discussions this year where I didn’t take a moment to reflect or be thoughtful myself about what I wanted to communicate. I can see that just because we hold an opinion about something, doesn’t it make it the ‘right’ or only opinion that exists. Listening and asking questions is powerful and buys us respect from others who hold a different perspective. I can apologize or regret the dismissive or careless comments I have made myself, OR I can take action and be more cognizant to listen, absorb and try to understand someone else’s point of view before asserting my own beliefs. I figure if I am going to expect my students to engage in practicing this thoughtfulness, I must practice what I preach, and this year shed light on moments that I wasn’t doing so.
I go into this year with more compassion for others, with more gratefulness for what I have, with more effort to achieve balance. I go into this year not wiser than I was before, but more curious about how the next trip around the sun will shed more light on what I do not know.