What is Family?

I don’t have any kids.

Sometimes that works against me and I can receive a lot of eye rolls and “you just don’t knows” – especially when it comes to my job.
Sometimes it earns me street cred like, “you’re still fun and can go out on Friday afternoons” (okay, so what, they totally turn into late nights – nobody asked you).
Sometimes I am so thankful I don’t have Legos imprinted on the bottom of my foot or spit-up stained on my new blouse.
Sometimes my heart aches for that undying, indescribable, all-encompassing love of being someones mommy. And the smell of a baby.

But the truth is, I do have kids. I have 14 of them and they are MINE! Seriously, don’t mess with this mama bear. I might be small, but I’m scrappy.

I know that all of them go home at 2:50 to their parents and siblings and chores and activities but I can’t help but feel like they are leaving one family for another. I am their school mom and they are, for better or worse, siblings.

We spend nearly 7 hours a day together, these loves and I. We laugh and cry and fail and succeed together – all within those 7 hours. We have chores and activities we do in Room 14. We know each other inside and out. We have no filters (oops – that’s definitely my influence). We fight and make up. We fight again. But if someone from the outside tries to bully one of our own or makes someone feel small – watch out. You’ve got 13 passionate, witty, unrelenting, volcano-mouths coming at ya! They’ve got each others’ back.

As the ring master of this circus I feel an array of emotions. I am proud of their character when they do the right then when no one is watching. I am disappointed when someone fails to try their best – letting the challenge win. I am embarrassed when they shout in the hallway. I’m not afraid to put them in their place – both higher and lower than where they believe they currently are. I see the good traits from my own character radiate like sunshine from them. My stubborn, procrastinating, messy work-space traits are no where to be found in these gentle darlings…
Okay, I totally had you going there for a second, didn’t I?

Don’t, for one second, believe that it is all sunshine and rainbows because it is more like a lawn during California droughts. There are spots of lush green and there are prickly brown areas but it’s all one yard and it’s yours and it’s still good for a game of badminton.

I go home angry with some of them some days. Other days I just want to hug them and never let go. I am sure this is much like parenting. I cannot help but love them at the end of the day. Despite their flaws and failures and messy desks and missing assignments, I love them for who they are.

So, no, I don’t wake up at 2 am to a crying toddler and then try to conceal the dark circles before going to work but I’ve got battle scars of my own. Neither mother no teacher would trade that in for something else.


  1. Kim K · March 3, 2016

    Oh damn. There you go making me tear up. A game of badminton? You also crack me up. I am so happy glad that you are doing this challenge. Your voice is crazy strong and I am also happy glad to see Room 14 in such good hands. 🙂


  2. lindsayogean · March 3, 2016

    I love this!! This IS family.


  3. Leigh Anne · March 3, 2016

    Family has many definitions and your post honors a special one – one of a teacher family. Your students are lucky to have you. Congrats on day 2!


  4. rosecappelli · March 3, 2016

    I agree – there are many definitions of family. And classes are a lot like family. I think you nailed it.


  5. Tom Foth · March 3, 2016

    The coolest thing about this is piece is that this is so totally YOU.


  6. ccahill2013 · March 5, 2016

    I’ve been there with that conversation about not having kids and wondering if it makes you a better educator. We love the kids we have in front of us with everything we have. Everything. They are family, yes indeed. You have such a creative, funny voice that comes through so loud and clear when you write. Keep going. I’m digging it!


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