Weddings are fun events that still stress us out when we think about all the planning that must go into the wedding to make it nice, or elegant, or fun. That's the key here--- what we want the end result to look like. Fathers always say they will just pay for the couple to elope. Mothers tend to think otherwise.
Spring is just around the corner and I can't wait! For nearly two years we have been anticipating our son's wedding. It is almost upon us. In fact, 90 days from now, this celebration will be here! For the first year after their engagement, we would think of things to do and say to ourselves, "we've got plenty of time." Then is was 6 months, and the urgency began to heighten. Time is always an issue, especially when the planners and participants are working or going to school full time. I am a planner, and I love to have the details ironed out long in advance so I can get it done with some room for error. My son has some of my planning obsessions in terms of making lists, so he is an active participant in the process. Even those who say they aren't planners become planners or are at least stressed by the plans, so planning impacts everyone involved. I am just the mother of the groom.... you know, wear beige and stay out of the way. I don't wear beige well, but I'm trying to offer my help and then get back out of the way.
As stressed as I might be, it is nothing compared to mothers of the bride (I've played that role too). My friend and colleague, who not only works full time in the central office of a fairly large (for Kansas) school district, just got done planning 2 conferences, in addition to 2 weddings to plan AND PAY FOR, in the next few months. One is a destination wedding, at a destination none of them have never been to in person. I feel my stress rising just thinking about that one! The other wedding occurs just as her job ramps up for the transition to a new school year and she takes over as the president of a state educational organization. Gulp! But I have no doubt she will pull both of these events off and live to tell about it (and I'll be waiting to hear all the stories!). I'm sure there will be glitches because one can never anticipate everything, but I do hope she can actually enjoy each day as a reward for all her hard work in the planning and preparation.
But weddings aren't the only thing we plan for. This has been the most challenging winter that much of the country has seen in years, maybe ever! It has truly been a Winter of Our Discontent. The weather forecasters are giving it their best shot at predicting where the "bullseye" will be in terms of snow fall. It affects cities, road crews, businesses, and individuals. If they are off by even 25 miles, decisions to cancel school or tell people to stay off the road are suddenly, and publicly second-guessed. They try to plan for what to do after the storm has blown through. The biggest challenge for Boston, and many other New England cities, is what to do with all the piles of snow. But from that, there have emerged some entrepreneurs who have come up with some creative ideas to melt and haul out snow to areas where snow isn't a problem. Some have said dump it in the harbor, but there are laws preventing that... understandably so they don't pollute the water or cause ice jams for the boat traffic. There are additional challenges for buried cars that may look like a pile of snow (do we plow that?) or picking up trash. We try to plan, but sometimes, we can't control what we can't control and then we drop into defense and damage control.
The last 2 weekends, "our neck of the woods" has had winter weather predictions that caused us to cancel plans and make sure we got to the grocery store to stock up - just in case. Last weekend's predictions turned out to be nothing more than a little sleet. No problems and no cause for concern, yet we were planning for a "weekend of discontent." This weekend the forecasts began with 10 inch amounts of snow (I know - nothing compared to the Northeast - but our first real big snow of the season), and now they are already reducing those to 3-6 inch amounts. Still some cause for concern, but hardly the wallop we were expecting.... unless the bullseye is off by 50 miles or so or the temperature varies a couple of degrees. So we plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Probably the bigger issue in Kansas right now is the wallop that education is facing in our state. In this "Winter of Kansas Discontent," the attack on educators personally (what we teach, how we teach, and how we get paid, including pensions), public schools in general, and even the programs like Parents as Teachers, that support early readiness and interventions, is unprecedented. Honestly, we never thought it would sink to this level of animosity. We try to inform legislators of our opinions but some don't seem to care. We are genuinely worried about the ability of our state to educate our students and keep the best and brightest not only in education, but in our state to keep us going into the future. Right now schools are preparing for the worst, crunching numbers and squeezing budgets, considering how new laws that can criminalize teachers who use material "not suitable for minors" (how does one really define that broad spectrum?) will impact curriculum and instruction, and figuring how to maintain local control when the legislature that has campaigned to create environments for local control are taking it all away.
In Kansas, we are now Boston. We have planned, predicted, and prepared, and now we wait for the storm to blow through so we can proceed to damage control. Is that any way to educate our students and prepare for our future? Like the Northeastern winter, we will hope that this storm is one of those that only happens once in a life time, but as the special interest money continues to control the attitudes and votes of legislators, I am afraid that this storm could come back year after year, causing a serious erosion to the quality of our education and the security of our future. But we fight on, keeping the promise of the future as our motivation for pushing back and our commitment to do what's right.
What I am sincerely hoping for is that when the storm finally passes, and I am confident that it will, there will be a rainbow for us to see and realize that skies really are blue. Until then, I will keep watching the weather both on the horizon and the political fronts and dealing with whatever falls as a result.... hoping that spring will soon emerge so we can escape the winter of our discontent and most of all, I can enjoy this wonderful wedding that is almost upon us!