wrapping up Sunday

It’s Sunday.  I have officially survived:

1.  a week of school where I swear every day was a full moon (if you’re a teacher, you can relate)

2. a 5 year old’s Ninja themed birthday party (note- it was NOT my child, nor was it at my house)

3.  not leaning over the cash register and throttling the Wal-Mart check out lady who decided forming personal relationships with every customer about EVERY item they were buying was more important than speed and efficiency.

4. watching the American Music Awards where I realized I a) don’t know anyone on the show and b) I’m old.

These are not ‘problems’ by any stretch of the imagination.   But more and more I find my patience is thinning. Perhaps its age.

I find I have very little tolerance for situations I am uncomfortable in.  In my 20s and 30s I put myself through what felt like torturous, awkward social situations. I’d smile, make small talk, tolerate and become a chameleon in whatever environment I was in, even if I hated it.  I did it to gain acceptance, friends, and mostly out of fear I’d be missing out on something ‘good’.

Now, I could care less.

The birthday party I went to today was particularly painful for me, the introvert.  The hosts were lovely.  The party was nice.  But making small talk with other parents whom I have virtually nothing in common with while having 10 5 year olds dressed as whooping Ninjas swirl about at our feet is not my idea of a good time.  But of course, I did it for my son.  What I really wanted to do was scoop him up and find a quiet place to enjoy some one on one time with him.  But I stayed, plastered on a smile and graciously ate cake.

As I sit here watching the American Music Awards, I find myself seething.  It’s too loud. I can’t understand half of what these morons are singing (if you call it that) and their outfits are ridiculous.  Is this what my parents thought when they watched me hang off every song sung at the same award shows in the 1980s?  Probably.  I feel about 100 years old watching this.  In fact, the only reason I’m watching it is because I’m doing a little research. I’m trying to figure out what names of performers to ‘drop’ in my fifth grade classroom so I look cool and relatable to the kids.  Good luck, right?

I also find myself conflicted between looking at the bright side and being realistic.  What do I mean?  Today at Wal Mart, I patiently waited in line while Amy, the 60 something cashier chatted up the customer ahead of me, carefully looking over and commenting on EACH and EVERY item the lady was buying.  EVERY.  ITEM.  I now know that Amy enjoys a lot of bacon on her BLTs and she is horrified at the current cost of bacon.  I also know she likes Tide and her husband prefers Cottonelle toilet paper, because, well, you know…..

GOOD GOD.

As I stood there, I tried REALLY hard to look at the bright side.  At least Amy cares about her customers.  At least someone is trying to exchange pleasantries.  Maybe Amy is a lonely person.  Maybe her only outlet is work.  Maybe Amy had a horrific childhood.  Maybe Amy is just a really lovely person… I don’t know.  All of these thoughts went through my head as I stood there trying to be REALLY patient with Amy and her incessant need to chat up the clientele.

But really, I just wanted to lean over the register and blip all the damn items myself, speeding up the process.

Instead, I stood there, trying to find something positive to take from Amy’s effort at customer service.

It was really hard.

And now it’s Sunday. That’s a wrap. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Peace.

another trip around the sun

Today is my birthday.  I am the ripe old age of 41. Not old by any means, but ancient to my four-year-old and elementary aged students.  I particularly liked it when one of my fifth grade students told me it was her mum’s birthday today too.  Her mother is turning 31. Gulp.

The older I get, I firmly believe less is more.

I had a quiet day with well wishes and thoughtful Facebook messages.  I had dinner and cake with my family.

What I am particularly grateful for is the opportunity to call my 92 year old grandmother to thank her for her card and money.  It is an opportunity I may not have next year.  Nothing is guaranteed. For any of us.

I am grateful for my health.  While I need to lose a few pounds, I am grateful.  I look around at friends with debilitating, life altering health issues and I am grateful for good health.

Nothing is guaranteed.

Years ago, I relished birthdays.  I would look at them as opportunities to go drinking with friends, to be the belle of the ball.

Now, I savor birthdays.

Because I know nothing is guaranteed.

I am grateful for another trip around the sun.

Peace.

the worry train has arrived at the station…now boarding the working mother guilt express….

Oh, hello again.  It’s you.  Thank you for coming back.

When we last met, I was riding the worry train to Xanaxville.  In essence, I was letting my anxiety get the better of me as I sat and stewed over family members who were traveling.  Yes, I was convinced that the next horrific airline disaster was sure to have my husband involved, and that my mother would somehow meet her demise in an unfortunate automobile accident involving a plethora of tractor trailers, wild animals and over medicated texting drivers.  Whew.  That’s a lot to digest isn’t it?

You’ll be pleased to know at least one of the two has reached the intended destination.  My mother is still traveling.  She is making her yearly Snowbird trek south.  So that means I still have 48 hours of worry left in me.

Added to that, (and hey, when you’re on the train to Xanaxville, you might as well throw it all in there…) were visions of my son being corrupted by gangs, him resorting to stripping for food and cash (ok, a little too much Magic Mike viewing over the weekend) and me not being able to shield him from the worst of life’s disasters.  And then I remembered that he is four and I still have a few good years left before that crap starts.

Ok, so where are we tonight?

Oh yes, on the working mother guilt express.

I am a single parent this week.  My husband is across the country on travel.   That means it’s me and only me.

While I do carry a lot more of the load than he does (read- housework, meal prep, laundry etc)  it is nice to know that when I’m preoccupied doing all this stuff, our son still has one parent to pay him some attention.  This week, all of it falls on me.  And I’m not complaining.  I am secretly worshiping single parents. I am in awe of their juggling acts.  Seriously.

Tonight, I had to make some serious choices.   How much time could back to back episodes of Transformer Rescue Bots buy me?  I have so much to do for school (another rant for another time, but as an aside I will say this…. Common Core, YOU SUCK.  If you want me to be teacher-of-the-year will all your fancy dancy facilitator 21st century learning shit, GIVE ME THE G.D RESOURCES TO DO IT WITH.  I am sick of scouring the internet on my time and dime for the latest and greatest teaching resources to make me a ‘better’ teacher)

So, tonight, I had to make some serious choices.  Do I say ‘screw it’ to school work or do I spend time with my four year old who was stuck at daycare all day?

HMMM.

Not a difficult choice by any means, but the linear, task based teacher in me wanted to get my school work done because between all the meetings and crap at school, there is simply no time to do it.

However, I chose to take time out to really focus on my kid.

We colored.  We drew.  We played.  We created.  We dined together.  We watched a few cartoons together.   And all the while I was almost in tears.

It was so innocent.  So pure.  My kid just wants me.  And the tears flowed because I spend so much time trying to be present and perfect for my career and my students while my own kid just wants his mom to sit and color with him.

And it touched me in a place I hate to go- my working mother guilt.

So, I gave in and let him sleep in our bed tonight instead of his own.  He asked, wide eyed and innocent if he could sleep with me.

And my mind immediately flew to the day he will be an ugly teenager slamming his door shut, wanting to be alone.

I realize that my days with him are numbered.  It scares me and shakes me to my very core.  It makes me want to fall on my knees and give thanks to God for blessing me with such a perfect, healthy, bright little boy.  Dramatic? Maybe.  But realistic… yes.

Nights like tonight make me take a step back and focus on what really matters.   My kid.  My family.

That is not to send you, the reader, the message that I don’t care about my job.  I do.  I care a little too much.  I am a veteran teacher but I am always trying to twist myself inside out to reach my ‘other’ kids (my students) often leaving a husband and four year old as collateral damage.

But tonight I am tired.  I am going to crawl into my bed next to my soundly sleeping son.  I will stroke his hair and kiss his forehead.  And I will give up a silent, grateful prayer to the powers who allow me to do so.

Peace.

all aboard the worry train

It’s no surprise I am an anxious person.  I’ve always been the kid who was the rule follower, the one who looked before she leaped.  The high school girl who made sure all the drunk kids had a safe ride home and held friends’ hair while they puked in the bushes. Yep.  I’m a real bag of fun.

So it’s no surprise that I am worried tonight as I sit here with my mother enroute south and my husband enroute west.  Both are traveling respectively for work and pleasure, but they are traveling.  And I worry.  I know you can’t live your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It would be ridiculous to spend your time on Earth fearful and tied up in knots.

But, if you’re anxious like me, it’s a real easy thing to do.

I worry when my loved ones travel.  I’m convinced the plane will crash, the car will spin out of control in the ditch, and someone in my family will be the statistic, the rare one in three trillion who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And why do I think this?  Because, well, it happened.  My dad was in a horrific accident which ultimately led to injuries causing his untimely death.  A freak wrong place at the wrong time split second life changing occurrence that left us shattered.

So after that, it’s pretty hard to play it cool when loved ones are traveling near and far.

I worry about my son. And his future.  Right now, he is four.  I can hold him, control him (please don’t take that the wrong way, I don’t mean it in a creepy Joan Crawford “NO WIRE HANGERS” sort of way) and pick and choose what is best for him. I am always there. I am slowly but surely instilling in him a sense of independence and confidence, but it is the scariest thing a parent has to do… let go.  The thought of it reduces me to a blubbery mess, so I prefer not to think about the many ‘firsts’ to come.  It’s too overwhelming.

I sit here tonight, ready to pounce on the first text or call I receive from my traveling loved ones; any sign or word I get to know they’re safe and sound and have arrived in one piece.

Because you never know when a goodbye will be your last.

I learned that one the hard way.

Peace.

and then there was Tuesday

Well, hi again.  Thanks for tuning back in. When you last saw me, I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to balance life and work.

Today I got a very real wake up call about all that.

A former teaching colleague of mine died.

She had been ill but her passing was still sudden and somewhat unexpected.

Anytime I hear of someone passing I get emotional. More than I used to.  I think experiencing your own profound loss changes you.  For me it has made me a more empathetic and grateful person.

Tonight I went for a walk with my husband and son.

I left work and school and death behind and focused on being grateful for what I have.  I know my time to enjoy my son as a little boy is fleeting.  I am in awe of how fast he is growing, and it scares me.

I cherish every hand hold, snuggle and silly moment that makes me want to scream.

Because I know these days are numbered.

And to let school/work overshadow that, well, I’d be a fool wouldn’t I???

And THAT was Tuesday.

Peace.

The Great Balance Experiment part deux (on the brink of an epic failure)

It is Monday.  I vowed not to be gobbled up by school this week.  I made my plans. I made my copies. I set realistic goals.

You see, I am a veteran teacher, 18 years in.  I am a National Board Certified Teacher.  I DO know what I am doing.  At least I thought so until 8:00 am this morning.

You see, I attended a workshop.

It was a wonderful workshop with a guest speaker who was fabulous.

In fact, she is so fabulous that she is no longer a teacher, but a fabulously paid person who teaches poor shmucks like me how to teach.

Instead of feeling enlightened and refreshed, I left the workshop deflated and overwhelmed.  Clearly, I suck as a teacher.

(I really don’t but the feeling of inadequacy was overwhelming).  It was like a live Pinterest session from hell.  You know, all of the cutesy, creative, trendy things you SHOULD be doing as a teacher with all that free time and plethora of resources.  (insert dripping sarcasm here)

So tonight I sat down, coffee in hand (extra fuel was needed) and basically started the process of reinventing myself. Again.

I sat, bleary eyed, nearly in tears scouring every morsel of literacy development that was known to Google.  I sat, credit card in hand, poised to click on anything that looked interesting on Teachers Pay Teachers.com

Keep in mind I am down to double digits in my checking account until the end of the month.  Sorry kid of mine, guess that Dora the Explorer yogurt will just have to wait.  Mummy has to keep her test scores up and needs more Common Core resources to make it happen…..

And so the wheel began to spin.  And spin. And spin until I felt I was once more out of control, in a dizzy frenzy of teacher resource hunting and gathering.

I missed my kid’s soccer practice.

I snapped at my husband.

I forgot to eat dinner.

And I’m sitting here in tears.

And for what?

So I can prove my worth as a teacher while my mental and physical health crumbles.

Albert Einstein made it without the Common Core.  He turned out pretty good.

Enough said.

Peace.

the great balance experiment… update

As previously posted, I am in search of more balance in my life.  Balance between home and work, that is.  I had this epiphany after a very long, frustrating night sitting at my computer, willing it to find me the latest and greatest educational websites, lesson plans and teaching resources that would send my students’ test scores into orbit.

Meanwhile, my kid was parked in front of the tv.

Working mother guilt and exhaustion kicked in.  There must be a better way.

So, basically I decided to give up.  I decided to give up spinning my wheels to become the latest, greatest test scorer/administrator. I.  Just. Can’t. Do. This. Anymore.

No, I didn’t quit.  Tempting, but no, I didn’t quit.

I simply decided on a few ground rules for myself.  And I must say, so far, I’m doing fairly well.

First, I decided to not over plan.  By that, I mean I got so absorbed in creating engaging lessons that I would over stuff my lesson plans and then feel stressed when I couldn’t get it all in.

Scrap that. I’m not reinventing the wheel.  I decided to do more with less. (if that makes any sense).

I also decided not to scour educational websites for hours on end at home.  It’s getting too consuming not to mention expensive.  No one really cares what latest, greatest resource I use.  I’ve accumulated 18 years of every teaching resource imaginable.  I could do a stellar business on Ebay if I wanted to selling off my sh*t.

I decided to limit my time on social media.  This was after the realization that I was conversing with my colleagues all day at work and then some via social media.  They are fabulous and I love them, but this FOMO (fear of missing out) of the latest trending Facebook phenomena has got to go.  I need a life, so I got one.

I decided to limit my grading to only a few assignments one day per week.  I am not getting paid for the hours of overtime I log. Grades are important but not everything.  As a teacher I’ve come to loathe them.

I decided to try to exercise.  This has not gone exactly as planned, but I am working on it.

So, in summary, things have not gone too badly this week.  I feel calmer and more centered.  Deciding to take some of the pressure off myself is a start.  I’ll keep you posted.

After all, I deserve it.

Peace.

remember me

After a couple of days of thinking, I have decided not to stress as much over my job.  It is so easy to lose sight isn’t it? It is so easy to become so consumed and wrapped up in one’s work that you feel as though you are spinning out of control.

And for what?

Losing my dad put a lot into perspective. (No, this is not going to be a downer death post incase you’re wondering….)  His passing at such a young age (60) as sad as it is, holds a small blessing for me.  It has allowed me to put a lot into perspective at a very young age (40, 38 at the time of his passing).

Because really, when it’s all said and done, will I have mattered in my job? Maybe, maybe not.  If I were to resign tomorrow, it would only inconvenience someone until they could fill my spot.

But the same can’t be said about my family.  I want to matter.  I need to matter.  And when all is said and done, I want to be remembered for warmth, kindness and love.  Not for how many dedicated hours I spent at a computer planning lessons no one really cares about.

That is not to say I will shirk my responsibilities.  It would be unprofessional to do so.  Matter from 7:30-3:30 and then go home is my new mantra.  Matter more at home is now the new way I will strive to live my life.

It’s a tough balance, but my family is worth it.

I am worth it.

So I’m going to work really hard to try to achieve it.

Wish me luck.

I have no idea why I do this

I am sitting here at 7pm on a Sunday night.  I am still doing school work.  Friday night I spent 4 hours of my time grading papers.

I am intelligent and educated.  I use my time wisely, yet there is never enough of it.

I listen to my husband and son laughing and playing.

I am sitting, doing school work, grumpy, near tears.

I have no idea why I do this to myself.

If I don’t go the extra mile, I get a shitty evaluation.  I am deemed ‘not effective’ if my data doesn’t meet some computer’s standards.

I am ready to quit.

But I can’t.

I have no idea why I keep doing this to myself.

Year after year, faking it. Pretending I love it.  Spending money I don’t have, time I don’t have, all for someone else’s kid.

I am done.

I have fantasized about turning in my resignation letter.

I will never have the guts to do it.

I need my paycheck, as meager as it is.

I have no idea why I do this.

don’t poke mama bear….

It’s been a banner week here at my house.  I am not a drama seeker.  Really, I’m not.

But this week, mama bear (me) got poked. Twice.

I just want to shake my head at these pokers.  Really?  Have you met me?  I may appear to be a humble, non assuming person, but really, I’m not.  I seethe when I am poked.  I have a razor sharp tongue and I’m not afraid to use it.

And I got poked.  Twice.

I am trying to be a reasonable parent who is not raising an asshole for a child.  I am attempting to teach my child tolerance, forgiveness, and strategies to self rescue.  Really, I am.  I teach so many children each year who are never taught basic manners and problem solving skills at home.  I swore I’d never be ‘that’ parent who let their kid run amuck.

I do not want my child to be afraid of me, but I do want him to realize boundaries.  Some behaviors are not ok.  I want him to be empathetic and considerate.  I want him to have (and use) common sense.   It’s a work in progress.

My child has been repeatedly pummeled at school (daycare) by another child who is oblivious to rules.  For about a month now, I’ve heard this child’s name mentioned morning, noon and night around my house.  My child has actually had anxiety attacks on the playground because of this brute.    Apparently, all it takes is one good sucker punch to the tummy to scar my child for life.    We tried to talk to my son.  We tried to equip him with strategies (use your words, move away, ask a teacher for help) to no avail.  He continued to talk about this turd, his voice trembling with fear.   I talked to the daycare and they did make an effort to move the child away from mine at the one time they would see each other on the playground.  They tried.

So, the other morning, I dropped my kid off as I usually do. Because I have to be to work so early, my child is usually one of the first ones dropped off.  I hate it.  Every morning it rips me to shreds to leave him there. (side note- it is a great facility and he is happy there.  I just have working mother guilt).

And Tuesday morning, it happened.  Turd boy got dropped off early.  That meant my son and his arch enemy were dropped off at the same time (which had never before happened).  The look of panic and fear that crossed my child’s face is one I will never forget.  And I had to walk out the door of the daycare and go to work.

I truly didn’t know whether to sweep my son up in my arms and make a run for the door, or collapse into a sobbing heap.  I figured the latter wouldn’t have been a good choice, and on second thought, neither was the first.  So, I dealt with things the way mama bears do.  I bared my teeth and sharpened my claws.

I followed Turd Boy’s father out to the parking lot.  I had never met him before.  I figured this was a stellar time for him to put a face to the name.  After all, his son has been terrorizing mine for a little over a month.

And I let loose.

It was not my best moment, nor was it appropriate.  But somewhere in my head I felt Mr. Turd needed to know that his son’s behavior was affecting REAL people.  Namely me and my son.

I proceeded to tell him that my son is terrified of his son and is having anxiety attacks over it.

He seemed bored and disinterested.  He told me they’re “working on it”.

Never being one to be dismissed, I pushed a little more telling him he’d better work a little harder because other parents are talking and are very unhappy.  (not a lie).

He of course was not at a loss for words either and thanked me for my ‘attitude’.

Ok, I get it.  Not the best way to protect my kid.  But my son is truly afraid of this child.

And then I sobbed all the way to work.

Fast forward to today’s soccer game.  Before the game, my son and another child were rough housing.  Ok, I get it.  Boys will be boys.  The child rough housing with mine is a chronic whiner.  He pouts and sulks when he doesn’t get his own way.  He doesn’t listen to his parents.  A lot of people have noticed his lack of discipline.  This was not a first time occurrence.

So he and my son were rough housing.  No big deal.  Boys being boys.

Except when I looked over, Pouty boy was attempting to pull both of my son’s arms out of their sockets and fling him to the ground while his own parents looked on.  I rushed over and used my teacher voice.  I firmly told him not to treat my son that way.  I may have thrown in a finger wag.

Well, that poked HIS mama bear.   She approached me a few minutes later telling me the way I handled the situation was too harsh and inappropriate.

Not wanting to a) punch her  or b) make a scene, I simply said “I’m sorry you feel that way, thank you for letting me know”.

Apparently that wasn’t good enough.

She continued to lecture me.  She told me I should have talked to her first about the incident.

Not wanting to a) punch her  or b) make a scene, I simply reiterated “I’m sorry you feel that way, thank you for letting me know”.

She continued on.

Not wanting to say a) Look you freaky granola home schooler, your kid is a turd,   or b) make a scene, I simply reiterated I was sorry she felt that way and thanked her for letting me know her concern.

By the fourth time she continued on I didn’t care anymore.  I told her she needed to keep a better eye on her kid.  To which I got an indignant “humph” and she tried to jaw on some more.

I think I moved away from her at that point.

While I know my tactics aren’t always the best, my intentions are.  I am reasonable.  I know kids get hurt.  I know there are bullies.  I understand not everyone thinks like I do.  But really kids… there are limits.  You are a KID.  And it’s my job as a parent to remind you of your limits (albeit not really my place to tell another kid that unless they are hurting MY kid which was today’s case)

And that was the week that was.

Peace.