Falling Down and Getting Up

I am supposed to be resting. My husband, who also functions nicely as my mental and physical health specialist, told me so. I am supposed to be doing so many things all of the time that in fact, it’s quite difficult to cut through all that bull-stuff.

I am three weeks into the fall semester. My students and I are bonding; there’s a groove beginning, a normalcy that is quite nice for most of us. I am even getting over my grudge against summer leaving so soon after we were getting acquainted. You could say I left the train station today and am no longer waiting for her to return. Next week, I might be ready to pack away her pink scarf in my drawer too.

To celebrate the inaugural day of semi-fall weather (only a high of 70-something!), I cooked up a creamy pumpkin soup. I am officially ready, envisioning jack o’lanterns and Halloween ghouls any day now.

This week also brought a new level of awareness of myself as a teacher. After a mild meltdown of sorts over an essay assignment choice I could no longer retract, when I realized it was likely much too hard of a first assignment, I began to hear a voice. Two of them, in fact. The first was my mentor and unofficial therapist, husband Eric. For twelve years, he has been the starring player to pull me back to my feet or call me down off the ledge. The second voice I heard was one of my bosses. In a zany twist to my first semester at FCC last year, my course was changed a week before school began. The person who had hired me was no longer really my boss anymore. I had to meet a new guy at the eleventh hour in addition to inventing a new curriculum. I was sweating like a novice bull fighter might. And my boss said, I was going to mistakes, as if it was the most matter-of-fact, nonchalant thing in the world. In that moment, he gave me full liberty to screw up. In fact, I have gotten permission from other leaders at work to do this very thing: to fail sometimes. That somehow, it’s OK.

When this knowledge began to soak in shortly after my near panic attack, things began to settle and fall into place. I can’t quite explain why; it just happened. I pulled myself together and walked in to my classes the next morning, like Joan of Arc after seeing the sword fall out of the sky, and told my students in not so many words that it was all OK. That it was OK for them to work with something challenging, and to do their best. I spoke about it all like it was the most nonchalant thing in the world.

And thus begins my new year.


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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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