Balancing on a Teeter-Totter

Remember the days “way back when” (I like to think it was last week, but to each their own) when you’d go out to the school playground, go running for a seat on the teeter-totter, make it in time, and then someone sat down and it promptly smacked you in the face? Yeah, me neither 😉

Lately, I’ve noticed my life is out of balance. Not in a major, I need to re-evaluate my life kind of way, but in a mom-guilt, teacher-guilt, I don’t know which one to focus on kind of way. Which brings me to this: we’re all searching for that perfect same-sized, teeter-totter partner that puts our life in a perfectly happy balance.

Sometimes we are stuck, a first grader being held hostage by a big, old 5th grader on the other end and we have no where to go. Sometimes we are the 5th grader weighing other people down.

This weekend I went on a hike with some friends. Being out in the fresh air with 2 hours to talk through your thoughts can really do the soul some good. I came to realize that I’m sitting here trying to find my perfect balance, when all I need to do is jump and give it a little push. If I’m the big, old 5th grader on the teeter-totter, it’s going to take me using my muscles to balance it out, I can’t just sit and wait for it to magically happen.

Being a working mom is hard. I feel bad for the time I’m away. On the other hand, I love my job and the students I teach, and it makes me feel accomplished to make a difference. At various times, one of the two takes over and I get stuck on the teeter-totter.

There’s so much push for self-care out there, and don’t get me wrong, it’s crucial. To me, though, self care isn’t about getting a facial or going some place fancy. It’s about being caught up in grading to spend a weekend uninterrupted with my daughter. It’s about going on a hike to clear my head for bit. It’s a glass of wine on a day where everything was out of sorts.

Find what makes your teeter-totter balance. Live your best life, because a best life needs both ups and downs to make it work.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in First Grade .. and Second .. and Third ..

There’s this cute little poem that talks about how everything you need to know in life you learned in kindergarten – sharing, being kind, how much glue to use, you know, the basics. I’m not here to dispute that, it’s true. Those things are all important and everyone should have learned them in kindergarten. Good job, kindergarten teachers, your job is not an easy one.

On that note, learning about life doesn’t stop at the basics of stop after kindergarten. You see, kids should be learning how to be kind, share, and so much more at every grade level.

I currently teach 4th grade. If you ask any of my students on any given day what my dream for them is, they all have the same answer.

To be a good person.

A good person portrays all of those kindergarten qualities, but as you get older, life gets more complicated. 4th graders are no longer arguing about which purple crayon was theirs (usually) or how long their turn on the swing was, but they are trying to find a group of friends, make basketball teams at recess, get good grades, and much more.

Most recently, my class had a week-long unit about empathy. What does it feel like to be in someone else’s shoes who gets picked last for basketball at recess as everyone rolls their eyes? What can you do when you’re so frustrated with someone you want to scream?

Learning new emotions and ways to deal with this emotions isn’t forgetting about being kind, it’s learning to be kind in a much more mature way. One I hope my students can carry with them as they continue on the path to be good people.

Let the Journey Begin

Here I am, 30 years old, a teacher with a just-turned-1 year old in tow. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I got here. Other times I know I exactly how it all fell together – one piece at a time. I’m not sure what it is about my daughter turning 1 that has me motivated to change the world, but I do know that starts with me.

I grew up in a happy, supportive suburban home full of food, clothes, toys, electricity, but, most of all, love. As an elementary school teacher, I know many homes are missing any number of the items I just listed, if not all of them. Trying to help every kid that walks through my classroom door, or just passes me in the store, is exhausting and overwhelming to say the least.

So here I am, desperate to make the world better for my daughter, but knowing I can’t fix everything that is wrong with it. So what do we do? Well, Campbell Elizabeth, we focus on love.

We love our family, our neighbors, even our enemies, just like God has commanded us. We live that love so loud that we help change the world, one act of kindness at a time. Maybe one day it’s inviting that “weird” kid over to play. Maybe it’s sharing some of our many blessings with those less fortunate. It doesn’t matter who it is, what they look like, or the choices they’ve made, we love them just the same.

So here we are, my little family of 3: a teacher, UPS worker and 1 year old, ready to make this world have a little more love, because it needs it more than ever before.

P. S. On that idealistic note, I know that life gets messy, and not every day is a perfect example. So grab your favorite wine and join us through the triumphs, try-again-tomorrows, and daily chaos that is life. Cheers.