Do No Harm

If it’s any indication of how this week has been, I just let my son begin his fifth episode of a 20-minute TV show he loves. Yep. I generally save any exceptions to the “1-hr of TV” rule for sick days. Usually my own sick days, when I can barely get off the couch. Sometimes, however, we need to grant ourselves a well-sick day, don’t we?

At the beginning of this past week, I felt excited and prepared to return to the classroom. In addition, Eric and I had a contract on our home in Ga, which was good since we no longer live in Ga. As the week progressed, the contract fell through – for reasons we can get into another time. And then two realizations set in. One, a new textbook can drastically change a course for which you previously built a curriculum. Two, having brilliant, or even adequate, ideas and materials scattered all over the universe does me no good unless I am organized, unless each concept has a specified folder where all materials for that one concept are kept. But that sh…t takes some time. As does starting from scratch with a course for which I had just become familiar.

Beginning again from scratch is how it feels each time my beautiful son reaches a new developmental stage too. He just started Kindergarten, and the confidence his school has helped cultivate in him is becoming more evident. This is a good thing. Of course it is. Yet, often I find myself not knowing how to work with a strong-willed little person without crushing his strength and persistence; these are wonderful qualities for a person to have – and awfully challenging ones for a parent to deal with sometimes. Thus, I begin over and over again in my approach to parenting.

Any approach to parenting is complicated for all us. In my own experience, my internal parents, the lessons and voices that are etched into my brain, body, and heart from my own childhood, fight to take over. Sometimes, I find I am fighting a bodily invasion with my dad or my mom. And I am shocked at how my vision of what children should do and be seems to be their views. It gets to a point when I am not sure what my own views of parenting are, other than “always strive to do good.” Ah-ha. There we are, coming in for a landing, even if messily and haphazardly.

Sometimes, you just have to shake it out, dance it out, cry it out, what have you….in order to let go. In order to return to the motto that striving to do no harm is most of the work. Whether it’s parenting, teaching, or being a good spouse, going back to this basic principle helps ground us and makes us less vulnerable when the howling winds threaten to tear us from the earth.


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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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