|Ten years ago, I was an incubator/builder/snazzy dresser.|
That conference, the ALAN Workshop, is a very important conference to me. I've never had my time solo on the main stage but I hope one day to have ten minutes up there to tell the audience of English teachers, librarians, professors/teacher trainers and fellow advocates what they mean to me. Which would be: a lot. They mean a hell of a lot to me. Many of them know Mr. King is in college to be an English teacher himself, and they know that I have dedicated much of my life to literacy, whether as a literacy tutor, a tutor trainer or a library advocate. I have been a paying member of ALAN since I knew ALAN existed. We share a passion. What's better than that?
|ALAN 2011 w/ Sara Zarr.|
The conference is a reunion. I feel I am with family there. We are friends. There are fellow authors and advocates who share the same passion. It is awesome. We hug and laugh and it's that one time of year I can see these friends in person, and more importantly, add something to their fantastic conference.
I always said that if I couldn't attend the ALAN Workshop as an author, I'd attend as a member. That's how great the conference is. But this year, the conference is in Las Vegas, which is a long way from home. And if you know me, then you know I am a non-consumerist, modest, frugal country girl so...Las Vegas is a little like kryptonite for me.
But I still hoped I'd go.
And then I found out I wouldn't be going, which was a bummer but...
|Photo cred: the kid|
And in that realization I realized that missing her birthdays for the last three years broke my heart a little because a mom should be with her kid on a kid's birthday when they're little. And she was probably too young to see it like I'd seen it--just a work thing. Mommy has to go on a plane and go somewhere again...no big deal.
It was a big deal.
It was her birthday.
There are sacrifices we make for this career. Quite a few, in fact. And here's the thing about sacrifices. If you make them enough, people forget to notice that you're making them...which leads to a lack of respect. For you. For your family. For your time. For what you do. For what you offer. For what you've given. But MOST importantly, if you sacrifice too much, YOU will overlook what's important to YOU because if you're anything like me, you will want to work as hard as you can to succeed and to get the message of advocacy out there. And you can forget things like...it's nice to have your mom around on your birthday when you're 7, 8 and 9.
As much as I'd like to give a speech on some stage in Vegas about Ask the Passengers and acceptance and love and how contemporary literature and Socrates can help teach tolerance in high schools, which was the plan a year ago, I'm glad I'll be staying home today, making a proper red velvet cake for my kid, throwing a family party tomorrow and then being here to hug her on the day she turns ten.
|That's us and Ben Franklin.|
Anyway, soon Mr. King will be a member of ALAN and the Workshop will be a King family affair, which will make it even more special. My book family and my blood family all laughing and being together. Maybe one day I can get the ALAN audience to sing "Happy Birthday" to my kid. I bet she'd love that.
Credit to: Beth Kephart for inspiring me to write something personal on my blog. She does it so well.