I lay here, holding Aria in my arms as she sleeps. Her breathing is steady and relaxed, her body heavy and draped across me. Daddy’s hand is cupped open beneath hers.
Then I could’ve grabbed my binder and opened up another chapter in the math curriculum, preparing to step in as a full blown math coach in my spare time at work come January. The numbers are in and they are harrowing in our middle school. Without concentrated action and support from our tiny, six person central office more than 80% of our middle schoolers will head to the next grade below grade level. Half far, far below.
So it’s my job to step in. The principal is new and focused on culture. The pseudo AP is actually the special education director and has more than two dozen kids to worry about. My boss has the world on her shoulders and is still managing to carry it, seven months pregnant. So math is mine. There is no one else.
But Aria is struggling with jet lag and I needed to hold her, to enjoy that renewing power of caring for the ones you love.
So I read PARCC problems and the achieve the core focus guides and pondered about pacing on the geometry standards that will only get two questions on PARCC, but could make or break their SAT scores. But if the seventh graders don’t get expressions and equations they’ll fail out of Algebra and never graduate. Perhaps they will pick up the area of a circle later?
It would be easier if I had a paper and pen, but chewing on next steps is meditative. At least that’s what I tell myself.
I made the decision a long time ago to never scrimp on time with Aria. She wants me to read to her at breakfast, so I do that instead of study for the PMP now. She wants to paint, I paint with her instead of bringing my computer down. I’m always tempted to stop interacting with her and sacrifice our time on the altar of my needy students. Occasionally I do make the trade.
But it never feels right.
My colleague SM is expert at this. She’s a mom too, but of a seven or eight year old. She is the High Priestess of Getting Stuff Done, but simultaneously the queen of “Not my job” and “No.”
That’s how she does both. She cuts past the fat and eats only the richest meat at home and at work. She always focuses on what matters most. It never feels like enough, but in a dozen years she won’t feel like she cheated our schools or her daughter.
I’ve mapped out my work calendar more thoroughly than ever before. I’ve blocked off time for what matters most, especially this math intervention, followed by my foundational state of the union meetings, followed by managing our family engagement work, capped of with our leader development program. Everything else will fall away like the chaff from the wheat. The chaff, unfortunately, would still be good. It might even make bread.
But Aria and DH. I won’t trade them for another loaf. Aria has a whole lifetime of good ahead. I intend to guide her there through a million moments and acts of love.
I only get so much time with her– the weekend, the mornings, two hours at night. So the best I can do is make all my time rich. I’ll never get more of it.
I just need to steal enough moments when DH and Aria are with the grandparents and I can study my math. Not too many to feel absent to those I love, but not too few to let those 80% fail.
Does that sound right? I hope so. It’s so hard. So complicated. But getting this right, this balance in me and in my life,is perhaps the most important thing I will ever figure out.