In her song “A Coat of Many Colors,” Dolly Parton recalls the story of her mother making her a winter coat from a box of rags. She sings about wearing the coat, “so proudly” even though others ridiculed her.
I have not lived in poverty, but in my world, I wear a hat of many colors. My hat is not a physical hat of colors, but rather a hat of titles. At minimum, I am a daughter, sister, niece, wife, teacher, and mother. These multi-faceted roles blend into my hat of many colors.
The first time I realized my hats could not be separated was when I attended a meeting comprised of people interested in the education of our youth. I “officially” sat at the table as a member of my local teacher union, representing myself and the other middle school educators in our district. But, I also am a mother of two children (at the time they each attended one of our district’s elementary schools), and one of those children has special needs. As was customary, during the introductions each member stated their role at the meeting. When I went to introduce myself, my superintendent looked across the table at me and stated I could only wear one of my hats. I was not to talk about my own children’s elementary school wants and needs, nor should I bring up any talk about issues related to students with special needs. It was at this time, at least five years ago, that I realized I could not wear just one of my hats; they were sewn together into one. If I removed one “hat,” the others would no longer make a whole, and I would no longer be whole. It would be as if I took a piece out of the letter “I.” Bewildered, I sat at that meeting trying to figure out how I could only wear one hat, especially when the topic of the meeting was education.
Education was a focus in my life since I was a young child. My father worked in the education field as a community school director, and my mother was a nurse educating her patients. The importance of education was stressed in our house, but so was living a balanced life. At a young age, wearing a hat of many colors was honored; sports, travel, friends, family, and just plain fun were all part of our family life. Now I was being told to only wear one hat? That just didn’t make sense then nor does it now.
So, for at least two years now, I’ve wanted to write a blog but have struggled to determine the topic. Blogs are supposed to focus on a topic right? How was I to choose just one? Every time I thought of an overarching topic, I felt as though I was ripping apart my hat of many colors. Finally, a few months ago while walking my dog (yes another title—dog owner), I remembered a tweet I had recently read. I don’t remember the exact tweet nor who wrote it, but it provided me the freedom I needed by reminding me that writers should write for themselves first, then for others. At that point, I promised myself I would write for myself first. If others find a reason to read a post (or two or three), that’s just an extra bonus. I am proud to wear a hat of many colors, and it is with this premise that I stitch another title into my hat—a blog-writer.