This year started with me on maternity leave, recovering from hand surgery, and managing a premature newborn all day every day, followed by a toddler in the evenings and on the weekends. After going back to work in February, life went into overdrive, playing catchup from 14 weeks out of the building. Then my boss announced she would retire that year, and I began preparing to apply for the job. Then I applied. Then I interviewed. Then I got it. In June, I began my first year as a principal, but not just at any school, at my dream school. I’m six months into this gig, and I can honestly say this is my dream job. I don’t just like my school, I love it. I love this community, and I fiercely love our kids. Becoming a principal after five years as an assistant principal feels sort of like moving from the kids table to the grown-up table. Or like getting behind the curtain. All of a sudden, I am privy to all of the information, all of the whys, all of the hows. I happen to work in a tiny district with twelve schools, where the superintendent knows each of us personally, and I am continually asked, “What do you need? How can we support you?” So many battles that first-year principals face were already won for me just by having the relationships already formed. They trust me, they like me, they believe in the work I am leading. And now, six months later, we are getting some data back that is giving us little pats on the back, little victories. It already feels better around the building, and that’s saying something in itself. Don’t get me wrong–the job is hard. So hard. The days are long without a break. If I don’t eat during a meeting, I don’t eat at all. I hardly type a sentence in an email at my desk without being interrupted. Taking calls comes with the pressure of knowing I am where the buck stops. By the time it gets to me, it is often escalated, emotions running high, sometimes very serious. Sometimes not. But what I know is that it is always serious for a parent when it involves his/her child. I get that. Being a parent helps me understand that on a level I would never have otherwise. I love the work. Some days it kicks my ass, but even then, I would not want to do anything else. I love being a principal.
As we close out the first semester, and my babies both just celebrated birthdays, I can honestly say that things are a little easier than they were when I wrote that post eight months ago about how hard it was to have two kids. Elizabeth just turned four, and I can see glimpses of the tantrums fading. Her logic is developing along with her language, and I know that she is listening to everything we say, even when we don’t think she is. She loves ballet and tap, coloring and writing, playing Barbies and baby dolls. She prefers to be in a costume if at all possible. She has a lot of opinions. Her best friend is the next-door neighbor, Paige. Their friendship is so special. A childhood dream, really–they play sweetly, in and out of each other’s houses. Caroline is 14 months old and getting more fun every single day. Her personality is coming through, and she’s dropping her gold-star status some days, but I love it. Lately I’ve been joking that she is going to join her daddy as the antagonist of the family. Elizabeth tends toward my personality of being a thinker, a dreamer, sensitive, sweet, passionate. Caroline pulls things off the shelf and then looks back to make sure we saw her do it. She climbs on furniture. She would go head-first down the stairs if we weren’t on her every move. Last night she climbed out of the bathtub with me sitting right in front of her. She wasn’t even upset–it’s like she just wanted to know if she could do it. She is becoming more affectionate, which is just the best feeling ever. She hugs, she lays her head on us, she presses her open mouth to our face. She is not walking yet, but I think it’s because she is so fast at crawling. She doesn’t say many intelligible words, but she has long, twisting, turning conversations in her own jibberish language, complete with inflections and intonations. I don’t remember Elizabeth doing that–I think she waited until she knew the correct words before she talked. Again, so much like me. If we can’t do it well, we are unlikely to attempt. I’ve got to work on that with her because I don’t want her to be a late-bloomer like I was, afraid of being in the spotlight, ashamed of so much about myself. Instilling confidence in my girls is my primary goal as a parent. That, and teaching them to be kind.
Jon and I are enjoying our jobs and being parents. We dream of travel and of getting away together, which is our love language.
Year 2019 will bring us a pre-K student, a toddler, a second year principalship, probably a new-to-us house. And maybe some new adventures…