And we are off. In the car, en route, unterwegs.
On a journey that we had hardly hoped to dare might happen.
Not the “normal” summer holiday trip in so many respects.
Not the usual first day of the holidays departure, ahead of three weeks away.
Not sitting in the front of the car as the première étape driver…. But sitting in the back while my beautiful learner daughter clocks up miles and experience.
No separately packed bags in the boot for our usual week in France.
And with me not quite the person I was last time I saw family and friends outside Scotland.
But in the car nevertheless. On the way “down south”, lateral flow tests having allowed us an exit pass and with plans to see loved and familiar faces and places.
So much has happened since we last met, as it will have for so many families who experience the first pandemic-delayed re-unions after almost two years, or maybe more.
How will we be with one another? How will we catch up on those conversations round dinner tables and on walks that haven’t happened? How will we fill the gaps left after Zoom calls and WhatsApp calls didn’t quite hit the mark?
I am almost impossibly excited.
I know the danger in this. I know that my tendency to become overexcited and set my hopes too high (which ended up with many a birthday or special occasion of my childhood ending in disappointment) needs to be watched.
I am counting up the things I can tell them about that I am proud of and that have also happened in those 20 months:
The parent, wife and friend I have been; far from perfect but good enough in challenging times for all of us;
(The three people in the car right now, as I write this, will probably never know the depth of my love for them.)
The work I have done in my day jobs to help children who need our professional love the most;
The connections I have made and the invitations I have had, to engage in projects that have helped make Scottish education more equitable and trauma-responsive;
The recognition that I have been granted by the GTCS for values based leadership;
The section of a book that I have written on disability awareness in education, which incorporates my knowledge and experience gained across almost 30 years as a teacher and my recent ADHD diagnosis;
The work that I have done on my Masters in Critical Enquiry;
The Teacherhug radio show that I have curated and presented around teacher wellbeing;
My continued co-leadership, alongside the inspiration and rock who is Christine Couser, of WomenEdScotland, which has flourished as a network and brought increasing numbers of women from across Scotland together, to help one another thrive and connect through values.
I write this not to brag, not in the interests of self promotion. I write it because, for some parts of this year, I couldn’t have brought myself to write it.
I could only have talked about the difficulties, the challenges. Or worse still, not talked at all.
But life is never all good or all bad.
It is both.
The last 20 months have been both.
I have to admit that if ever I have needed to see people who love me for what I am, who won’t judge me and who will still see the parts of me that they have loved and lived with for my lifetime, it is now.
And so for now, I am going to put some things that I can’t control, or solve by endless thinking or worrying, into a box, leave the box on a high shelf and allow my ever busy, curious and intense mind to be intensely busy with other things.
Like dreaming about those hugs, like pondering which beach to swim from first, like deciding what colour to paint my toenails, and like picking which yoga routine to start the day with.
And like remembering to breathe.
Whatever this summer brings you, however you spend it, I wish you peace, joy and rest. If you have been a helper this year, I hope you know how grateful I am.