Monday, November 12th, 2012...9:36 pm

Personal Development

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Today I taught Nora an important lesson:

Sometimes it’s ok to play hooky from school.

Ok, really, this is a lesson I myself am still struggling to learn. I struggle to prioritize the demands of my own personal needs and mental health with the demands of being a leader at my job.

I remember really clearly the day when Miles’ teacher – who was then Nora’s teacher – told me to take a day to myself. She knew that I didn’t have school to teach that Friday – a Friday when the daycare was still open right before the Christmas holiday. And she gave me the exact permission I needed at the time to drop Nora off with her there and take a day for myself. For doing all that I needed to do to feel whole again. I still thank her for that day, for that permission, for understanding without my ever having said anything. Apparently I didn’t need to.

What if work was the same way? What if there were systems that gave us permission to prioritize ourselves instead of systems that seem to punish us for it?

Maybe then I wouldn’t have to feel some lingering guilt about taking time for myself. For prioritizing my day not around professional development, but around personal development. I put myself and my family first.

Nora and I needed time together. She’s been a storm of moods lately, moods I can’t figure out, that mystify me and terrify me and drain me of energy. We needed time together to sit. To laugh. To not feel the rush of time – of school mornings, of bedtime.

We skipped school together this morning and had breakfast. She laughed hysterically at her new walking puppy she bought with her own saved quarters at Target. She told me about her friends at school, about ditching the princess culture for the cute animal culture. She was light-hearted. She was happy.

And so was I.

I dropped her off at school almost three hours late.

I took care of a doctor’s appointments that I’d been putting off. That I shouldn’t have be putting off. That I didn’t want to do, but I did it and it was no big deal and now I can check that off my list and stop thinking at the end of every day that I really should take care of that. I really should take care of myself.

I shopped. I went quietly and slowly up and down the aisles of stores I usually rush through hoping to spot something cute before the children implode, before nap time calls me home, before I’m sucked into the kids’ section never to return.

I cleaned out my clothes – going through my drawers and closet to purge the old and make room for the new. How many things have I held on to because in the five years of being pregnant, losing pregnancy weight, pregnant again, losing weight again, I’ve gone through the various stages of “I’ll hold onto that in case …” But I’m sick of saving for “in case.” So I filled bags for goodwill and I now can see what I have again.

Today I endured the inevitable witching hour meltdowns without losing my patience. Because today is the first day in forever I wasn’t feeling spent by the time I picked up my kids. And that energy, that feeling of wanting to play and read and snuggle and calm tears and fears, that energy that I have all summer long—it was nice to feel it again. I’m going to try hard to hold on to it for a while.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we can, that we should, that we must take time to do what we need to maintain our best selves. Sometimes we need days to step out of the light of what everyone expects of us to make sure we are doing what we expect of ourselves.

I will go back to work tomorrow better able to do my job. Better able to serve my students. Better able to focus.

Sometimes paying attention to me is the best professional development I can do.


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