It’s 9 PM and I have spent 30 minutes with my husband. 2 hours with my four children. 10 hours at work. 1 hour after work working on work and 1 more hour thinking about it. Just another day in the life of most teachers. I used to think that days like this meant my life was out of balance. That adding up all of the hours spent away from those that matter the most meant that I was an abject failure at being a great human being and that I had to restore my balance. In the past few weeks though, I have realized that there is no such as balance.
In fact, I would like to state that balance is much like a unicorn. Wonderful to dream about even though we all know it doesn’t really exist.
What I do have though is choice. And for the past 7 years I have chosen to give the best of me to my students. I have chosen to give most of my energy, most of my thoughts, most of my hopes and dreams to those students I have been lucky enough to teach. I have taught with my emotions on my sleeve and at a breakneck pace. I have chosen to do this, whether intentionally or not, and so my own children? They have gotten whatever was left of me when I finally made it home. The final smiles, the tired eyes, the overloaded mind. And that is no longer enough.
We forget that as teachers we cannot save the world. That yes, we can try to change the life of a child in our classrooms but we hold a much greater power at home. We are the people that can change our own children’s lives for good. We are the people who can make sure that some children will show up to school knowing they are loved, knowing that they have support no matter what happens to them. We are the people who can make a difference, but that difference needs to start with our own children.
So I am ready to stop searching for balance and instead spend the time and energy making better choices. There are moments of my day I cannot choose, I will devote myself fully to those hours I get to teach. But the rest of the day belongs to me and to the choices that I want to make. No longer should my family get what is left of me, but instead what they deserve; a person who is fully present, not thinking about work or the next thing to write. A mother who looks at them like they matter. A wife that shows how crazy in love she still is. I will never find that unicorn, but I have come to accept it. Now it is time for a change, how about you?