In the Midwestern state where I live, autumn blew in last week, unexpectedly after what we thought were endless warm days. For those of us who teach, autumn arrived a long time ago, in late August or September, regardless of the weather, in the moment we stepped back into the classroom.
All 3 members of Smart Women Write participated in #WomensMarch across the U.S. We’ve joined together to recap our experiences here to tell the story of 3 Americas that aren’t in the Northeast.
I am not good at being kind to myself. For more than two decades, I have been a self-starter, a highly motivated individual with often singular focus on a certain goal. I am very good at getting things done, and have been ever since high school. Time management comes easy; I have a strong, innate sense of time and how it will flow through my fingers once I set my mind to a task. It is not foolproof, but I am good.
This is handy for many points in life. Grad school, writing a book manuscript, reading tons of books each year, managing motherhood and career, teaching high school – everything I do relies on my ability to get things done.
The election of the new president of the United States was the inglorious epilogue in the global spread of regressive, dangerous ideology. To the smart women who write, it feels like a very clear confirmation that something beautiful and important in the soul of not just the nation, but the world, has died.
Without consciously having orchestrated it, each of us (Tanya, Bryna, and Angela) wrote about living and writing and working with this stark confirmation fresh in our hearts these past few weeks. If you read all three posts together, they look a little bit like the disjointed phases of grief.
Early November usually looms with promise for me. At school, we end our first term with a lovely three-day weekend (for grading, admittedly) and the promise of a new term chock-full of exciting topics and the bonus of time to rest and plan ahead during the holiday breaks. This year, I was more excited than ever. I was confident that after all the stress of the election cycle, things were going to turn out well. I was certain that Hillary was going to win the election and become our first female president.
This past week flashed me back two years to another November. Continue reading ““Children will listen””
“Mom, I want to be Elsa!”
It’s been about two months since my son first told me that he knew exactly what he wanted to be for Halloween. At first, I thought it was just a passing phase. He’s three, after all, and in August I didn’t expect him to be so sure of what he’d want to be for Halloween.
But week after week, it’s stayed the same: “Mom, I want to be Elsa!”
At first, I just laughed or told him, “Okay, let’s think about it.”
I wasn’t about to tell him no outright. I can’t do that: if I believe that girls can dress as anything they want to (superheroes, ninja turtles, you name it), then why should I tell my son he can’t dress as anything he wants?
Right now, my three-year-old son is really into magic. Sometimes he’s a witch, donning his $3 Target bargain witch hat and pointing my old Harry Potter magic wand at me. At other moments, he goes full-on Elsa, because Frozen is alive and well in this household. With his imagination, storytelling seems effortless. He can evoke a mood in a moment, switching gears so quickly from one scene to the next. He has never written a real word in his life, but he’s very good at making things up as he goes along.
I like to think he gets his wild imagination from me. Some of my earliest memories involve playing Heidi with my friend, usually as we listened along to the storybook-on-tape. We took turns being Heidi and Clara, and the most important scene to re-enact was the one where Clara falls on the mountaintop and there’s no way to get her back to her wheelchair. This was the dramatic climax, folks, and I was the boss. I made sure that we performed that scene exactly the way I envisioned it in my head, and my son clearly has the same intentions with his own daily play. Continue reading “No Spells for This”