Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking back on love

Tuesday fun at TWT!

2015 was a hard year, a stretch-and-struggle year, and a magical, wonderful, delightful year. Most of all, it was a year where my one little word permeated every slice of my life.

When I chose my word, I already knew that the wiggly little creature I was growing would teach me how to love in an entirely different way... but I still couldn't imagine how deep and wonderful this new love could be until the doctors pulled her out of my belly and held her up, all squirmy and perfect, making little squeaky animal noises. Now I really know what it is to love and be loved.

Love is the soft touch of tiny hands exploring my face, as big, bright eyes gaze up at me in wonder. Love is an open-mouthed smile, panting wriggles, and outstretched arms that greet me with pure joy, whether I've been gone minutes or hours. Love is a delighted cackle at a silly song I made up, and also a sweet snuggle burrowing into my shoulder. 

Love is a reason to leave school earlier, to go for a walk instead of staying stuck on the couch, to decide that those emails or papers can wait for another day because it's so much better to watch those blue eyes crinkle as I wave that toy.

Love is being intentional about taking care of myself so I can be my very best for her. Love is lacing up my tennis shoes, coaxing my fingers to clack across the keyboard, diving into the pages of a book, or simply taking a few moments to stop and breathe in awe of the world around me... even (or especially) when I don't feel like doing any of that. 

Love is learning and reflecting, monitoring how I'm doing and training my brain to ensure that I'm who I want to be. Love is fighting the monsters in my head: worry, fear, doubt... and coming out stronger every day.

Love is adamantly pushing for what's best for my students, even if it's not always popular. Love is sticking firmly to what I believe, even if it's not what has always been done. Love is wiping my sweaty palms, swallowing the lump in my throat, shaking out my tense arms, and standing up for my kids.

Love is listening and caring. Smiles at the doorway, hugs on a rough day, questions that show I remember something they told me last week. Love is always being willing to step into the hallway, beacuse that kid may have waited all day to share her heavy weight in the place where she's most comfortable. Love is handing over a carefully chosen book, saying, "I picked this for you. I think you'll really like it."

Love is showing people they matter. Chocolate on a tough week, a hand-written note, a special quotation, a birthday card, a creative gift, an afternoon together, or even a quick text... just enough to say, "You are special. I'm so glad you're here." Love like this creates ripples of love that stretch far beyond where I'd planned. 

I'm excited to choose a new word for 2016, but I'll make sure to keep choosing love. Every day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The great puzzle

Tuesday writing fun at TWT!
“Let me think:  was I the same when I got up this morning?  I almost think I can remember feeling a little different.  But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’  Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
 – Lewis Carroll

This spring, I struggled to imagine what my life would look like with a baby. Could I still be a good teacher? Would I still be able to do the things that make me who I am?

Who, in fact, would I be?

Now, in December, I can hardly believe how far I've come. I'm certainly not the same. I certainly feel different. But I have worked so hard at this "great puzzle" that I've never been more sure of who I am, and that's an incredible feeling.

I am a teacher. I love my students and I pour everything I have into making them better readers, writers, learners, and people. My brain spins with ways to engage them, encourage them, and let them know how much I care.

I am a mom. My days are full of sweet snuggles, slimy hugs, gooey open-mouthed kisses, and smiles bright enough to light the whole world. I can change diapers, store milk, make up silly songs, coax wiggly arms and legs into adorable outfits, turn tears into smiles, do myriad tasks one-handed, and interpret a small creature's feelings from a variety of noises and faces. I love with a depth and ferocity that I never imagined, and I feel more joy and more gratitude every day.

I am a reader and a writer. I dive into worlds of words and those worlds change me for the better. 

I am a spark. I push and inspire others to become better. I am brave enough to leave my comfort zone and fight for what I believe is good and true.

I am both an expert and a learner. I share my unique knowledge and skills with others, but I constantly strive to improve, to wonder, and to keep my curiosity alive.

I am a light. My heart overflows with love, and I make sure I live so that love shines onto others.

I am strong and brave. I am finding ways to balance my life in order to take care of my body, my mind, and my heart. I know this is part of being my best, and I am proud of myself.

I am making a difference.