I’m flying home from Washington, D.C., after spending the last three days there for a Teacher of the Year event. This is the second leg of a three-leg flight and this particular part is extra long for state-to-state flying at 3 hours and 47 minutes. Gives me uninterrupted time to think and work, unlike when I drive. I spent the first leg of the flight writing thank you notes to the various presenters and supporters at the National State Teacher of the Year Induction I attended at Google in Mountain View, California, at the beginning of this month.
As I sat in my seat, writing 26 thank you notes, recalling how much I learned and experienced, my hand aching from not being used to writing things by hand, it occurred to me that since being selected as the Washington State Teacher of the Year, I’ve spent on average three nights a week at home and the rest traveling. While it’s been an honor to represent my students, colleagues, and state, and rewarding both personally and professionally, being away from home is rough. I miss my family.
So, when I was writing those thank you notes, I realized I was spending hours thanking virtual strangers, when I should be thanking my amazing family, particularly my husband, Ryan. When he and I met nine years ago, I’m not sure either of us really knew what we were signing up for. He knew I loved adventure, and I knew he’d lived in the same place for his entire life. We were in for quite a journey together.
From the very beginning, Ryan was my champion, even when my many endeavors inconvenienced our life together. You see, I have a bit of a problem with timing. I completed my masters thesis while caring for our brand new baby boy in 2012. I signed up to pursue National Board Certification the year we were selling our house and moving to Spokane. And, I often mess up spring break to attend the Washington Education Association Representative Assembly. Nevertheless, Ryan supports me through it all. He loves me in spite of and because of my passion.
This, though, being Teacher of the Year, has kept me away from home far longer than anything in the past and we’ve completely rearranged our lives for it. The entire family, my mom included, has pitched in to make it all work. Still, I am away from home often.
Most recently, as a finalist for National Teacher of the Year, I had to prepare for the selection, which included a keynote speech. I fretted over what I would say, and my husband was there to listen to me. Just days before the selection, I asked if he would watch my speech. He sat down and helped me rearrange, remove, and add elements. He helped me make it into the story I wanted to tell. He did this, knowing that should I be selected, I will be gone even more.
This public acknowledgement of how very much I appreciate my truly amazing husband barely begins to express my feelings. He believes in me and he loves me for everything I am. My trajectory sometimes clashes with what either of us envisioned for our lives together, but through his unending support, we manage to grow together and our relationship grows stronger.
Thank you, Ryan David Brodwater, for believing in me. Thank you for being my champion. Thank you for doing the drop offs, making sure we FaceTime every night when I’m away, grocery shopping, and keeping our family running, all while do amazing things through your own work. But, mostly, thanks for loving me and being proud of me. I couldn’t do any of this without you. Thanks for being my partner through this crazy experience. I love you!