I feel good at this mom thing about 85% of the time. I get him to school daily, we bathe daily, he eats every day, I get him his medicine and yearly appts. Overall, he is living large. But then school projects pop up or parent homework as I call it and this girl falls a part. Sure other parents think “Poor kid” as he carries his lunchables to school daily, or this mom shows up to parties late or forgets to sign the folder again. But school projects make them shout “Is she even trying!?” Exhibit A: 100th day of school shirt. The poor boy practically refused to wear it. It fell over him like cardboard and ruined one of his favorite shirts.
Exhibit B: That sad robot VDay box that was basically me saying “I am wrapping this box in foil, you figure out the rest.” Thankful this kid does not feel the need to compete because this mama is not helping his chances.
I am a big advocate of having a circle of women that you can connect with and grow old together. Seasons change in life so much that it is likely the friendships will change too. Hard reality, but truth. While we lived in one city, our friendships were very different vs another. While our son played on one team the parents we hung out with varied from the next time. Proximity is important.
I am thankful for my DC or Dinner Club girls. These ladies have been in my life for 15+ years. No season could separate us. We are lifers. We have literally raised families together. We make the time and that is key. Be grateful when you find a crew that knows it all and still love you. Hug them tight and do not let go.
I write all this to say, we were made for community. Isolation is lonely and dangerous. When you are down, you need someone to help you up. You need a partner to laugh with and love hard. I cringe at couples that say “we have each other”. Love the bond, but you need more. Fellow moms that get how hard it is, wives that feel the struggle to stay sexy, women that know the pressure, Christ followers that see how narrow the road really is and get when you do not always feel like you fit in. Spouses are great, but the girl time makes the spouse time better. I have had girlfriends that chose the boy. Only want to go out as couples. Cancel at last minute or never fit the date into their calendar. I get love, but I refuse to be the only one trying to make the friendship work. You choose to make time or you do not. Simple.
I am fortunate to have several groups. Church community, work community, city community and my lifelong friends. Make no mistake it is does not just happen…you make it happen. You create time, you say yes, you give your ear and be attentive, you stay loyal and guard your heart and mouth so other women want to invite you and be around you. You stay confident and secure so you can shine each others’ crowns instead of rip them off.
Women can be as tough on each other as much as we are tough on ourselves. But when the relationship vibes are right, no one understands women like we understand ourselves. The giggles are loud and the conversations get deep. Big tears can be shed and the dancing and singing can free the soul. Go on the get away and leave the kids …they will make new memories just like you. Embrace the girl time. Leave the man for a few hours…better yet, marry the man that selflessly supports it. It.will.be.worth.it!
I have worked for some good principals, but the one I had 5 years ago was undoubtedly the best. She always put her trust in the teachers that she hired and always saw us as humans first and employees second. When tough conversations were present, she would always say “Is this the hill you want to die on?” Most times, I sheepishly said no then I would turn and just stay silent knowing it was not worth the fight.
But now, I have a situation where I have discovered that I will indeed choose to die on this hill.
The issue is small for most teachers in the education world, but it means everything to this reading teacher. The issue: how we prepare students for reading tests.
Our reading education has come down to test passages and standardized tests and my feelings always have and will be that building lifelong readers comes first. I have done my job if students leave my class loving or tolerating books more than when they walked in. I regularly incorporate reading time in my lesson plans and only read children books so we have something to talk about. My hero is Donalyn Miller and her thoughts give me passion.
But doing this kind of reading means test scores take time to grow. In the beginning, the scores are low because we are not taking test prep passages all day and getting good at tests. We.are.reading! Shocked I have to defend the act of reading to teach reading, but I have literally planned with teachers that have a lesson plan of legit reading passages all.day.long. Well, good for you that your scores are good, but sucks your kids now hate reading.
So spring forth to this week where I have a lengthy conversation with a colleague encouraging me to test prep, do a lengthy list of reading strategies geared for only making them more tired while reading and to read the questions first before reading the passage so we can improve test scores. Forget comprehension or reading for meaning…what was I thinking? We are about passing tests. I sat in shock and explained that some of your strategies will exhaust my advanced readers as they do their magic without all that extra work (aka they read a lot) and my struggling readers may never finish the test. Then while they are thinking about the questions they just read, they are missing the main idea and inferences required to answer the questions and evaluate the author’s craft. But I only have a Masters in Reading, A Master Reading Teacher certificate, 18 years in education with all 18 years getting 80% or above passing STAAR in areas of Texas with high poverty rates so what do I know? (For real, despite my multiple years of reading success-last year over 90% grew from the year before…I am still getting this talk.)
So I sit here and ask myself change my plan to fit their (admin) needs and completely destroy myself as an educator and lover of literacy…maybe the scores will go up or maybe not…or stand firm in my belief that tests will come and go but lifelong readers will not.