Giving Her All She’s Got

So, here I am. I am tired; my house is dirty; and I am about to return to grading. It’s kicking my ass, these days, the grading. So little of my time is filled with anything other than trying to keep up. Yet I still declare moments like this. Moments when I have “no time” for personal writing but decide to take it anyway.

I am discovering this is just how it goes, maybe for most of us out there, particularly those of us who bring home work – and lots of it – while having to get food on the table and take care of a small child. Remembering not to lose bills within a sea of other papers is the status quo around here, at least for now. This too shall pass, as they say. My son will eventually grow big enough to lock himself in his room all evening (let’s hope not, actually). My job will eventually feel less like cheerleading tryouts. And I will one day spend fewer hours planning for courses that are still new to me.

Today, however, I am stealing time and learning to feel less guilty about it. When your job – or your responsibilities – are making you cry at night, then something has to give. The only person in this equation is me. I am the hero of my own story, as I heard in a movie recently. Therefore, I get to be the director. Like Robin Wright, I can direct, produce, and act in my own show cause….I can.

In slowly learning not to treat each grading deadline as life-threateningly pressing, I learn to show more humanity in the classroom too. I talk, at least a little, more openly with my students about my humanness. It seems to be helping everyone relax, at least a little, in the process, particularly those students who are pretty darn uptight and intimidated to begin with.

Keeping myself sane, smart, and fair depends upon these moments, when I say, “I just can’t do it. I am giving her all she’s got.”

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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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