Some days I know I have the best job around: working cooperatively with a small collective of creative individuals to seek a better understanding of the world around us (I mean just look at these guys!). The hours are regular, but never dull. Days are full, but flexible. I have coffee with my colleagues on the porch, I get to be outside when I want, and can even work from the beach!
Other days I’m very aware of the fact that this is the hardest job I’ll ever do. I work 14 + hours each day, rarely get vacation or sick time, have very demanding, loud, sometimes insulting, often ungrateful colleagues (clients? ), little feedback from the board, and almost no recognition from society. Plus, the pay sucks.
Its easy to laugh and be sarcastic about it. But some days really are the hardest ever. When the people I care about the most in the world are yelling and screaming at one another, or me. When they are in despair and they (and I) feel like I should be able to help them. When the one thing I really want to accomplish has to be put off over and over again, in order fulfill the commitments I’ve made to our family. When I don’t know if the choices I’m making are the right ones and there’s no guidebook, no supervisor to check in with, no annual evaluations telling me what an amazing job I’m doing. When I wonder if they are learning what they need to know, if I’m failing them as a teacher. Those days are the hardest.
I don’t feel like that very often. When I do it tends to creep up on me and pop out from behind other stressors– paper work, committee responsibilities, hormones (mine and others), summer plans (for a farm camp!) that will be wonderful and exciting but new work for me, and that’s scary. And suddenly I’m wallowing in the heavy muck of it all.
Of course I know that this is also the best job, for me. I know that family is the most important thing to me. I believe in work that changes the world for the good, and I believe that children are the place to start that change. I look at my people and know that this life we are living is amazing and wonderful, and that we are truly fortunate in so many ways. I know that.
But sometimes I only know it after taking a walk in the woods. Or going for a long run with the ladies, or focusing on creating something just because I want to. I know it when I revisit David Orr’s quote about what the world needs…”more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage…” (full quote on the side bar).
I know it when I take the time to acknowledge that my feelings are real, that mothers’ work is undervalued in our society. That the education system is a mess, and that homeschooling is one way to try to make things better. When I acknowledge these truths, and my feelings, then I can keep things in perspective.
And, fortunately I have these amazing people around to remind me.
(This is where the kids would start singing “First World Problems”).