I got to thinking about the impact of the different eras of my life while I’ve been studying for the principal’s exam. As soon as I get my certificate approved (should be the first of May) I need to hit the floor running to every district in the area looking to hire assistant and/or vice principals.
One of the many questions that I’ve been told to expect to be asked deals with how I came to be who I am today. And this is what I’ve discovered about myself:
I believe there are seasons in our lives that impact us so greatly they become part of the definition of who we are.
For instance, I am a leader. For better or worse, this is what I am. I am the oldest of four children and was raised to “be an example” for my younger brothers. Was I always a good example? Puh-leeze! Just ask them, they’ll be more than happy to share with you exactly what kind of an example I was for them.
I am incredibly organized (although if you stepped into my house right now, you’d wonder at the truthfulness of this statement). I developed this skill out of necessity when Hub & I were first married. I didn’t have a problem finding things when I put them away, but things got tricky when he started putting things away in different places. We were continually asking each other where something was. So, in order to bring peace into the household, I reorganized everything and showed him where to look for AND to return items and relative peace has reigned in this area ever since.
It’s kind of a “my way or the highway” mentality, but that all falls back on leadership. Besides, somebody had to make a decision on which cabinet was for what purpose, right?
I don’t spend money extravagantly. This all harkens back to the first few months Hub was in the Air Force. Did you know that new recruits don’t receive a paycheck right away? Neither did we. We were married for two years when he enlisted and I was working two part-time jobs just to cover the rent and doggie kibble … nothing was left in the food budget for me. I ate a TON of oatmeal, as in every meal, every day for three months straight with the exception of Sunday dinner with Mum & Da. I lost a lot of weight then and to this day don’t really like to eat oatmeal.
Much along the same lines is my continued dislike for all of the “Helper” meals. I was 9 when Da was stationed on remote overseas for a year. Mum was working full-time and working on her Associate’s in the evenings. I was responsible for making sure my brothers, who were aged 6, 4, & 2 at the time, and I had dinner. Hamburger Helper in all it’s varieties became the main staple in our house. To this day, the only brother of mine that will eat Hamburger Helper is the Major. Since he was still a toddler, he ate mostly food from a jar, so he didn’t get to experience the dinner cuisine that was all things “Helper.” Mum, the Spook, the Pilot, and I all had a good laugh over the “Helper” year when we got together this past Christmas.
These two culinary experiences also defined my dislike of cooking. When I cook, it’s because I have to and because I don’t want to spend any more money eating out. But I don’t always like to cook. And as I tell Hub, I bake ONLY twice a year. If I happen to bake two things for the same holiday, that counts as completing my annual baking commitment. Poor guy, there have been some years when he hasn’t received a homemade birthday cake because of my avoidance issue.
I learned about the depth of my inner strength when my little Scottie dog was diagnosed with lymphoma. Hub & I about put ourselves in the poor house trying to fight the cancer. In the end, he still lost his battle. But it was the fight that helped to define me. I don’t think I had ever been at the point prior to his diagnosis where I cried to God nightly to give me the trials of another and heal the little guy. I begged for healing and ultimately received it in a way I wasn’t expecting. Prior to his diagnosis, I had grown cold & bitter as a result of two failed attempts at adoption. During the few short months we had left before he died, I became more empathic & compassionate. I couldn’t take his cancer on myself, but I was there with him as the disease made its ugly progression, ravaging his poor little body.
The experience of losing my precious little companion helps me each day as I work with my students. Many of the kids that come through my classroom door this year are facing tremendous obstacles. More so than in any other year I’ve worked as an educator. I can’t take their challenges on myself, but I CAN sit with them and tell them that I know they’re hurting and that it sucks that they have to deal with what they have to deal with. And they know they’re in a safe place when they walk into my room.
I am a composite of all of the seasons of my life. For better or for worse, this is what I bring to the table each & every day.