So… I have hesitated to write a new post. I have been struggling, worried, and in truth, overwhelmingly busy. The past two weeks have not felt magical. Our family has been going through some challenges. None of the stories are mine to tell and none of the outcomes are without optimism and hope. There is no need for panic or widespread fear. However, being one half a care-giving team with my husband means that the struggle of those around us can certainly have an impact on just how magical we feel.
This is not a post about pity.
This is a post about empathy and looking beyond the surface.
I have not been as “magical” as usual at work, at home, or even inside my own head. That does not mean I do not care or want to do better or that I am unaware of my “failings”. What it means is that I must give myself permission to slow down, prioritize and give the best I can. This has been difficult as I am by far my harshest critic as my last post glorifying my own tendency towards self-doubt revealed.
But here is the bigger issue… do we allow our students, their parents/caregivers and our colleagues/administrators this chance to “slow down” in the face of crisis or challenge?
- Do we judge the student who falls asleep in class? Or quietly, privately ask her if she is ok?
- Do we penalize the student who still does not have that assignment done from last week? Or ask him what the barriers are for him right now to get it completed?
- Do we gossip about the parents who miss the interview? Or do we offer them an alternative time or means of communication?
- Do we roll our eyes behind the scenes at the mom who shows up late each day with toddler and infant in tow to pick up her school-age child? Or to do we ask her to sit down, maybe even offer to hold the baby and entertain the toddler, and ask her if she is finding the pick and drop off a bit overwhelming?
- Do we avoid that colleague who seems to be making a frazzled run for her morning yard duty? Or do we tell her to take a break to get ready for her day and head out to yard duty ourselves?
- Do we criticize the administrator who does not give us the answer we had hoped for? Or do we ask him to take some time to discuss his thinking to help us gain a more clear understanding?
The past two weeks I was just like every one of these people. I very easily could have fallen asleep mid-day if I allowed myself to, I am behind on some of my work, I have missed some communication with my children’s schools, I have barely made some pick ups and drop offs on time, my morning routines are in shambles and I am not giving everyone what they want or need.
Here is the key… everyone in my personal and professional life has been generous of spirit and action. They have picked up the “magical slack” for me when I could not. Grandparents, my own children, my students, my administration, my colleagues, my friends, and, of course, my husband have all supported me with words, actions and I know, prayers and thoughts, that allowed me to be less magical just for a bit.
So… in my daily work, when I am feeling 100% magical (ok, no one is that magical) but let’s pretend – do I have the same generosity of spirit and action as I have experienced the past two weeks? I would sure like to think so. But now I will remind myself each time I jump to a conclusion or make assumptions that maybe, just maybe, that child, parent, caregiver, colleague, administrator is just not having a magical moment, day, week… Maybe I can pick up that “magical slack” for them just for a little while.