I’m awaiting the dawn. The inevitable arrival of daylight means our departure for Philadelphia is imminent, as is the return of a quieter life as we’ve come to know it. A return to a life where dishes get put in the dishwasher once they are used — hell, where dishes are actually used. Where things remain where you set them down, rather than mysteriously disappear into the inner workings of someone else’s whim. Where dinner doesn’t include the cacophony of family familiarity and scatalogic conversation. A life where you know there will be milk in the refrigerator when you open the door, rather than the picked over remains of a grocery run completed only hours earlier.
I miss that life, in case you’re wondering.
It’s been three weeks since the offspring first descended on the house for holiday break, much like a swarm of locusts moving through the land, leaving desolation and waste in its path. Professionally and socially, I’ve been scarce as I’ve tried to readjust — however temporarily — to the rhythm and demands of immediate family in your immediate face. Three weeks where food and family fueled a frenetic pace, where my skills as an event coordinator, crisis negotiator, referee, sympathetic shoulder and — oh my god, I shudder at the word, but let’s just call it what it is: a mom — have taxed the limitations of peace on earth and goodwill to men.
Jane, stop this crazy thing.
It’s been one hell of a year. This year has seen more travel and speaking at conferences than ever before. Much to my shock, I finally won the coveted Red Stapler award from HighEdWeb Association for a talk about tech in education (thank god for Audrey and teamwork). Professionally, it’s the first time I’ve solely subsisted on project work, and that is a scary thing (thank god for TheCop and salary). The 2013 Highlight Reel includes a lot of other firsts — first time at Google I/O, first time having my laptop stolen, first time keynoting a conference (thank god for vodka). I explored new conferences for new inspiration and fueled creativity: World Domination Summit, SXSW, edUi, An Event Apart. I still kept one foot in the world of highered and digital literacy, and because I have no qualms about riding the coattails of my friendship with Jim Groom (thank god for Shelley Keith and spare rooms), I had the opportunity to interact with some of the truly inspirational minds in highered today at OpenVA (David Wiley, Audrey Watters, Gardner Campbell, Kin Lane), mix it up with some crazy #ds106-for-lifers (my old friend CogDog, my new friend Scottlo) as well as meet University of Mary Washington’s killer DTLT group. People who push for innovation within teaching and learning are simply phenomenal, and it’s probably the reason I can’t seem to kick the draw of highered.
I found my voice and started blogging again, now with 80% more heart. Still need to find consistency, but it’s good to be writing with purpose. A tweet by Zeldman promoting my never forgetting your first mentor post drove views through the roof and got a request to post it elsewhere; smarter people would have capitalized on that, but sometimes you have to know to know where you’re going to have any clue on getting there. I’m still sorting that part out. Meanwhile, I’m working on two book outlines — one professional, one more personal — thanks to a spark from WDS13 and being prodded, cajoled, and held accountable by Shelley, Stevie, and Shannon. I need to refocus on that in the coming months.
My past revisited me in unexpected ways this year, mostly because of social media. A childhood friend caught up with me after 25 years. A favorite college instructor ran into me while shopping a month ago, and we spent hours catching up on how we’re both still trying to make a difference in education. Friends in real life started following me on Twitter. (Weird). My mother tried to follow me on Google+. (Even weirder, since I haven’t spoken to her in years.) Yes I blocked her, even if it is Google+. Because MOTHERS. My sister TheProgrammer finally married the cool guy that’s been with her forever in a beautifully simple ceremony that we like to call “selective elopement.” And I may hate Facebook a little less this year, if only because my nieces and nephews are finally at an age where they are getting interesting, and I can be the crazy inappropriate aunt your mother warned you about. (Because MOTHERS.)
Oh yeah. And I managed to stay married to TheCop for another year. That makes 25 (thank god for fighting, handcuffs, and make up sex). I have no idea how it happened. My mother would be horrified.
Ahh, family. It’s a crapshoot, whether you get one with which you can manage to maintain a relationship through the years. I hear an alarm go off in the house and realize the quiet part of the day is officially over. Time for us to get moving, so that people can get on with their lives. In a somber moment, I realize this will be the last time we’re all together for a long time. I consider worrying but think better of it. What’s going to happen will happen whether I obsess about the possibilities or not. This new year brings with it a lot of change. TheCoed in Philadelphia. HavenDude graduating and finding a teaching job somewhere. DangerBoy in Afghanistan. A new halftime project at Penn State. TheCop trying to get more time in on the Appalachian Trail. A new Doctor to try to learn to love (but really, how can they beat the Doctor-Amy-Rory trifecta? I just don’t know). I only know that I’ll probably miss them a little when they’re gone — but how will I know if they DON’T LEAVE???
I fast forward to next week, when my house — and my sanity — will be restored. When my workspace has rid itself of the detritus of boxes and wrapping paper, of holiday receipts stuffed in a jar for horrified tallying later. When I no longer have to think of cooking in bulk, and can go back to life as a couple. When two cases of beer don’t evaporate in a week. When I don’t have to step over kid crap as I make my way through the house. When I don’t walk downstairs to discover all of the furniture has been moved around to a bed-centric design, compliments of my son, with my personal stuff unceremoniously dumped in the corner. When I’m not buying three gallons of milk at a clip. When the only one badgering me is a dog, relieved to reestablish preeminence in my life.
It all seems so enticing. And I will be grateful for it. But I think, in retrospect, I will also be grateful for this three week gift of family. For kids who want to be together at Christmas, who pull out all the games so we can have a zillion family nights and game nights and movie nights with a smorgasbord of snacks and cookies because those are the things we do as a family. Those are the memories they have of home. Those are the things we hold dear. From the time they were small (thank god for kids and cuteness) we’ve built a framework of love and support that hopefully can withstand the test of time and whatever changes the future holds for us.
Because, like it or not — and the decision is still out on this — time marches on.