ZZAZaA (My Son’s First Blog)
June 3, 2019
Dear Friends, it’s with a very heavy heart that I share this with you tonight. I’m not doing very well at all. In fact, I’m really failing, here. Of the many things I deeply ponder, this battle is getting the best of me.
I’ve been doing a lot of deep reflecting on career, family, and life lately. Some call it soul-searching, perhaps for your purpose, your place in this world, and what really matters in the big picture. Sometimes I go so fast, that I have to be reminded to slow down, to realize and embrace what brings me to tears.
If I’m super passionate about something, I dig deep and hold on tightly, like a toddler hugging a parent through a storm. If I’m associated with it, if I’ve researched it, and if I believe in it, then I will champion it.
My challenge is that I’m passionate about many things, such as improving education, integrating technology, analyzing leadership strategies, aligning resources to standards, facilitating hands-on STEM to enhance learning, and creating and making meaningful connections on various platforms to make teaching and learning more efficient.
But when it comes to people–especially those you care about so deeply that you’d lay down your own life for them–it’s an unconditional love that transcends… everything.
I’m wrestling. It’s a constant tug-of-war so gut-wrenching that I feel like I literally can’t win. Nothing I’ve tried seems to be working. It’s guilt and shame–like I’ve never felt.
The First Time It Happened
Sitting on the couch with my feet under the coffee table, I was lost in thought, carefully reading and typing on my laptop. All of the sudden, I felt these tiny hands on my big feet.
It didn’t stop there. This was only the beginning.
Slowly but surely, these baby hands scratched, clawed, and climbed their way up, pulling on my calves, and then my knees, and… BAM! Out pops a baby’s head from under the coffee table–between my legs.
It was my eleven-month-old son, Myals! He was now standing between the couch and the coffee table, between the laptop and Daddy. Full of curiosity and mischief, his daring, smiling eyes said it all:
I want to do what Daddy’s doing. I want to be like Daddy.
I want Daddy’s love, care, time, and attention. I want Daddy to be present with me.
By the time I greeted Myals and we had had a hug and a conversation, the laptop screen turned off, going in to sleep mode. However, this was very much a wake-up call for me:
I had so much work to do, that I couldn’t spend more, quality, face-to-face time with my child? My work was so important that it replaced irreplaceable family time?
I’m a terrible parent.
Yet, there were times when I was present with Myals for 18 hours a day, not touching work. And even sometimes while we were playing, deep down, anxiety built about that looming grad school deadline, unfinished plans for tomorrow, or that upcoming presentation that needs polishing. And the thought actually went through my mind:
I’m a terrible educator.
Does anyone else have thoughts like these?
There was a time when I pondered the possibility: Can I Give 200%? That would be 100% in Career + 100% in Family. Turns out–That’s total garbage. And impossible by every measure. Looking back, I’m kind of embarrassed to have even had that train of thought.
The Second Time It Happened
Now fifteen-months-old, Myals was quite the coordinated walker. Once again, I found myself on my laptop, deeply immersed in the screen. The sad part was that Myals was in the same room, playing with toys by himself.
I stepped away for a moment to get a professional reading book to reference in my work. When I turned around, I saw Myals on my laptop, typing away!
In his first blog on February 9, 2019, he wrote:
In typing so little, he said so much. To me–His Daddy.
Unreal Balance in a Real Life
The feelings get so intense that I often leave the house to go to a restaurant or a coffee shop to get work done. Unbearable are the moments in which I’m working downstairs, only to hear my son laughing and playing with my wife upstairs–
And I’m. Not. There.
I’ve never lived nor believed in the perfect work–life balance. It doesn’t exist. When I’m really getting ahead in family time, work’s getting away. When I’m really getting work done, I feel a sickening guilt for not spending more time with my family. In fact, I can’t think of a time when there was ever work-life symmetry. Can you?
How do you balance? What do you do? What are some things that have worked for you?
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) November 17, 2018
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) December 20, 2018
Another big day of #MyalsMoments! We've officially begun solid foods. After many baby steps, it's all the more special. #HamstraHighlights reflects: Love for Myals https://t.co/LmoAaNWUcL @LeannHamstra #LittleH1
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 20, 2018
— Dr. Jennifer Williams (@JenWilliamsEdu) July 12, 2017
— Natalie Franzi (@NatalieFranzi) March 17, 2019
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) March 16, 2019
Waking up to this beautiful piece from @MelanieCFarrell. Making me really think: What if we took more time to embrace moments like these? Love on your loved ones a little more today. #CarpeDiem #youdoyouedu #becomebetter #wonderwake https://t.co/U9mb0gNv8g via @MelanieCFarrell
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 24, 2019
There is no such thing as balance. You're either really ahead in work and missing out on family time, or you're with family and behind in work. The 50/50 balance does not exist in this thing we call life. #bfc530 https://t.co/NSmb1YeygX
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) September 24, 2018
BOTH! But I think the recharge will help me catch up. It's good for the soul. I don't believe in 50/50 work/life balance. For me, it seems like about 80/20 or 20/80, but sometimes, you have to hit the pause button on one to go deep in the other. What's your approach?
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 13, 2019
Barely in to Day Two as full-time stay-at-home-daddy, with our five-month-old, and I realize I have no idea how any educators with young kids get school work done at home. #HamstraHighlights #MyalsMoments #LittleH1
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) April 12, 2018
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) June 2, 2019