I started with a flourish and ended in a fail.
At the beginning of the summer, I thrilled with the idea of joining hundreds of other teachers as we practiced writing. I read the prompts and joined in questions and answers, and I penned more thoughts, feelings, and ideas than I had in months. Then, like the old cliche’, “Life got in the way.”
I tried to back out gracefully, telling others that things had gotten too difficult. Many sent good wishes. Some with good intentions said, “Write anyway. 10 minutes can make all the difference.” Yes, maybe that’s true. For some.
I’ve heard that writing can be cathartic. I even believe it. I’ve used that line with students.
But here’s the thing– writing takes energy. Energy that I quite simply could not muster. Mine was all being used keeping emotions in check and family moving forward.
Nothing prepares you for the decline of aged parents. Nothing prepares you for the cruelties of Alzheimer’s.
Even when I had 10 minutes, I could not write. I could barely think. How could I create characters or outline plots or string sentences together in a way that made any kind of meaning?
Emotions can rock you and drag you under. Life really can get in the way.
And now I know how Maggie felt when her parents divorced in the middle of the year. I know how Nicole felt when her grandfather died, and she couldn’t write that essay I assigned. I know why Amy couldn’t think or work or complete anything when her beloved dog died. I understand why Marcos needed more time to “get his act together” when his feet flew out from under him.
It’s not that I didn’t want to understand. I did. Mostly. I’ve always tried to err on the side of the kid– whatever the excuse or conflict. But now I really “get it.”
And getting it — when it comes to due dates and deadlines and excuses — will make all the difference when I relate to the people I call students.
So when it comes to Teachers Write and the plans I had for writing this summer? I failed.
But really, isn’t life much more about the people than the plans?