Work Friends

I’ve spent a lot of time at school in the past week – last Thursday and Friday I was there until 9:00 PM for superintendent interviews and Tuesday evening’s freshmen orientation didn’t get over until well past 8:00. I did my share of griping about the extra hours in the days preceding, but I have to tell you that hindsight has me singing a whole different tune – one that sounds vaguely reminiscent of Sister Sledge’s greatest (only?) hit, “We Are Family.”

I have a lot of really awesome friends – high school friends, mom friends, family friends, bloggy friends (hi, Jac!), and college friends – but the past seven days have reminded me that work friends are a special kind of breed. There really is no other group like them.

My colleagues have seen me at my best, absolutely giddy over a student’s incredible piece of writing or an unexpected snow dismissal. They’ve seen me at my worst, inconsolable after a complicated miscarriage or a sleepless night with a newborn. We’ve shared in each other’s highest of highs and lowest of lows – everything from proud graduation tears to answerless questions over the loss of a student. It’s an emotional gig, this teaching thing, but we do our best – and we do it together.

My work friends speak my language. There’s no need to check self-indulgent chatter at the door because my priorities are their priorities. They don’t mind me droning on about essay rubrics or weekend reprieves or broken heaters (hey, it was a rough winter for Room 104, okay?) because they live those same passions and frustrations everyday. We care about kids and content and growth and we never have to apologize for any of it. (We also care about having fun and we do that pretty unapologetically too.)

These guys are a huge part of why I love being a working mom. Few things merit time away from family, and this mob makes the cut. They understand the monumental impact of a Grumpy Cat e-mail on a bad day, of a poorly timed joke during a high school staff meeting, of a juvenile inside joke between class periods. They’ve mastered sarcasm and perfected self-deprecation because – and this is 100% true – you can’t teach high school without a keen appreciation for asinine humor.

Caretaking fields like ours necessitate sincerity because we don’t work with machines or tools or computers. We work with people who see right through the bullshit and straight to the truth. There are no disguises here, only the kind of vulnerability that demands one’s realest self.

It takes an army to move mountains (especially when those mountains keep forgetting to do their homework) and this past week has reminded me that I’ve got the best one of them all.

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Mountain

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