Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Father's Day Poem for My Sons

Your Dad
-for Chris and Tim

My greatest joy has been
watching the two of you grow
from little boys to men
I admire and respect.

I’d like to take credit
for the men you've become,
but there's someone who
deserves it more.

Your dad—
worked twelve-hour days
six days a week
at a job he didn’t love,
but it paid the bills.

Every night he'd come home tired and dirty,
ask us about our day,
then take a quick shower
while I started dinner.

Within minutes
I'd see him playing
with his two small sons
racing Match-box cars
across the living room floor.

Dinner was always laced with laughter.
Your dad would get it going
telling some funny story about work or
poking gentle fun at one of us.
We laughed more than we chewed.

Sundays, he was behind the wheel
taking us on long drives--
back country roads to get homemade ice cream,
through the mountains to see autumn trees, or just
cruising through neighborhoods to see Christmas lights.

Your dad--
coached your Little League games,
helped with scout meetings,
and cheered you on
at karate competitions.

When you graduated from high school
college, grad school—
He was there.
He may not have said it, but
he was so proud of you.

Your dad--
taught you to drive,
helped you get your first car,
made your friends feel welcome,
and danced at your wedding.

He couldn’t buy you
everything he wanted to. 
So he gave you
everything he had.

It's no wonder
you turned out so well, and
I should have told you long ago
how thankful I am
he's your dad.

“You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes.” ― Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer is Here!

Summer is finally here! I've been looking forward to this for months.  This summer is going to be different from any other.  For the first time in thirty-five years, I have the entire summer to myself! My sons are grown,  we're staying in a small apartment while waiting for our house to be built so there aren't any "house projects" to do, and I decided to resign as a mentor teacher so I won't be working with the newbies this year. The summer is all mine!  Hmmm.  That makes me both excited and scared. 

I'm thrilled to have time to work on the writing projects I've putting off for way too long..  I want to find out where I fit in the world of writing. For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of writing books for kids. Now, I have the time to work toward that goal. .

But, I'm also scared. I'm not used to having chunks of free time. I'm used to being busy, constantly busy with work, home, and family. I think I've taken on this lifestyle of always having too much to do because.I don't do well when there's too much empty time in my day.   I tend to fill in the empty spaces with worry, and before long I get depressed because I've wasted so much time worrying.  Then, to make things worse,  I waste even more time trying to cheer myself up by searching the Internet, reading blogs, checking Facebook,  reading other people's books, and daydreaming about what I'll write "someday."  It's been easier for me to keep filling my time with chores (which I now realize are really just excuses for not writing) then to face the  possibly of finding out that I'm not really good enough to be a writer after all.

So, this summer, I'm trying something different. I joined the wonderful Kim Messenger's TeahersWrite! online summer camp to help me feel that I'm part of a writing community.  I wrote down some writing goals.  I gathered up some essays, poems, and picture book manuscripts that are in various stages of completion to take another look and see if they can be revised in something worth submitting. But the most important thing I've done is to accept the fact that I need to be held accountable. Leave it to me, and I'll fritter the days away, but give me a deadline, and I'll meet it!  I don't like letting other people down so I make sure the task gets done. The other thing I need is to know someone is going to read my writing and give me feedback I can use to improve. I feel extremely fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to be working with a team of mentors this summer. They are teacher/writers I respect, and I know I'll learn a lot from them.

I've tried to set myself up for the best chance of success.  Next, I need to come up with a daily schedule.   I'm already feeling  a little guilty about spending time doing something just for me when there are so many needy folks I could be volunteering to help.  If you are a teacher/writer, how do you balance your time to get it all done?