Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Skunk

I am snowed in! Literally Day 3 of a snow day and off of work at home with my kids. This is the best thing for teacher moms! Even when I realized that my paycheck will be significantly smaller now due to a series of snow days. But I am still all for the snow day!

I had this experience a couple of weeks ago and when it happened it stopped me in my tracks as if I was being specifically spoken to by the Lord. Almost in an awakened startling way. In a good much needed way though.

It was Friday and a school day, and I hurriedly got the kids in the car around 6:30 AM. It was freezing cold maybe in the teens for the umpteenth day in a row, and we were on our way to school. I remember the week had flown by. Lots of work little of me even littler (I know that's not a word!) of me and my kids.

The usual things I did before working like studying all weekend with W on his spelling words so he knew them by Tuesday for his Friday test had gone by the wayside. I was frustrated. The times I did check W's folder I had found a few bad grades on things he could have had a 100% on had mom (me!) taken the time to help him.

I was starting to get....angry. Not at anyone in particular just angry.

It was still dark and we were leaving for school. After being in the car about 10 minutes I realized it was Friday and I had not studied one single time that week with my 7 year old. *Gulp* I asked W to pull out his word list and hand it to me while I was driving. I called out a few words and.... he misspelled them all. I started to feel all sorts of anxious and not just because of the misspelled words. Because of....everything. I felt like a mommy explosion (putting that nicely but it is in no way nice) was about to erupt any second. I was trying to stay calm. I called out another word...and he misspelled another word. That was it. I knew in the next millisecond it was all going to spew. I couldn't contain it any longer. It was like slow motion. I could see the disappointment in his little face in the rear view mirror. I could feel the yelling, nagging, tears, stress tsunami about to come right out of me. He knew it was going to come too so he turned his head and looked out the window.

That's when it happened. As the sun was coming up and during a beautiful cold sunrise-

W yelled in the most happy whimsical little boy voice- "A SKUNK!"

We were at a stop sign by this gorgeous piece of land along the railroad tracks that we pass every morning and afternoon. It is a brown rustic wooden cabin surrounded by 6 acres of gorgeous land for sale for $700,000 (we pass the billboard everyday twice a day). There is an old brown wooden fence surrounding the property, and we were sitting there at the stop sign nanoseconds before my eruption.

I turned my head and saw W looking in awe at the cutest fluffiest most alive skunk we had ever seen while riding in the car that was trotting across the 6 acres of open land. The skunk had a long way to go to get to the wooded area he was heading for so we all froze and watched him. I too felt mesmerized by his aliveness!

W commented, "I've never seen a skunk alive before!"

M was cooing, "awwwwww, he so cuuuuuute!"

And he was.

He was cute and very much alive.

He also was a much needed distraction to the small frustrations in my life that had my emotions all tangled in a big huge tangled mommy stress knot.

The wonder in my little boy's voice. The novelty of such an out of place piece of nature that froze us in our tracks in pure joy was much welcomed.

That adorable skunk gave me the time I needed so God could say clearly to me, "It's going to be ok. This is not a big deal. Take a deep breath."

That's exactly what I did. The rest of the way I did not blow up. When we crossed the railroad tracks a gorgeous sunrise was still in action, and I made sure I took time and pointed it out. I used my vast knowledge of phonemic awareness to help W with the words. Relating each one he didn't know in some way to one he did.

He made a 100% on his test.

A few days later I realized the day before the Valentine's party that my sign up genius I sent to all of the 2nd grade parents in W's class had not sent me any emails saying parents had signed up for the brunch items on it. I checked it the day before never posted! So with the help of two other moms we pulled together the brunch that evening. No big deal. The next morning I baked and left extra early. I got to school in plenty of time to decorate W's classroom for the party and unload food before my kids arrived for class. While enjoying all the decorating another teacher said my phone had been ringing in the hallway. It was Paul calling to tell me I had his keys....and mine. My kids were going to be in my room in 15 minutes, and it was a 25 min drive home. I looked at the clock and realized Paul was going to inevitably be late for W's Valentine Program and miss most of it. On the way home I almost cried. I was so stressed. Then I thought I saw something flurry on my windshield. It looked like a flower petal, but it was snow-it began to snow the moment I contemplated crying. It was so beautiful. It started pouring snow but not sticking to the ground. A beautiful distraction again just when I needed it. When I returned to class only about 30 minutes late there were Valentine's gifts all over my desk.

Fastforward to this week. I have been working for nearly two months now. I've survived volcano projects, conferences to meet parents, reading running records, a Valentine's party, a field trip, and teaching in general. I have enjoyed it, but it has not come without that old feeling of tension, stress, a need for coffee, chocolate, and Dr. Pepper.

My fuse has become shorter because the list in my brain is 1,000 times longer now when I'm at home. And right when I feel like I'm going to erupt....God sends me an ice storm! A much coveted snow day that turned into 2 then 3!!

It gave me the time I needed to sort out my own stress. To read. To play. To literally get myself together.

To be the mom I love to be.

It gave us a very unexpected renewal of our sense of wonder.

My kids asked if I was going somewhere today....because I took a shower! I said, "No, I'm just tired of stinking!" I actually took time to groom my eyebrows today because I had time...and it took scissors, no joke.

So all in all. This is it-God knows what we need and exactly the right moment WHEN we need it even when we don't. Even if it's a lone skunk trotting through an open field in the exact nanosecond a distraction is needed.

Even if it's a snow storm/wonderland:

Even if it's a 3 day time out :) Well....Make that a 4 day! I just got THE text-the no school tomorrow text!! It looks like I may even catch up on the laundry.

or snow!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Working Mom Me

For the past 7 weeks I have been working again. I fell back into teaching like a glove. It was easy. I am good at it. While I am at school I like it. It's when I am at home that's the problem. Between M playing volleyball twice a week, W playing basketball twice a week, and me continuing to tutor T twice a week after school then bring him home, I am beyond a mess. Beyond tired. Beyond stretched too thin. I spent the whole of yesterday with chest pains and my left arm hurting. I am too tired to even think of cooking. I woke up to this as I opened my eyes this morning:

Despite me pleading for 13 years for my husband not to "help" with the laundry if it means clean laundry will end up for days maybe weeks on the floor causing my stress level to skyrocket...

My house is a mess and while some can overlook that I cannot. It is in my wiring. I see dirty dishes, clean laundry covering the floor and my body reacts in a very unhealthy stress filled way.

So like everything in life the working mom me has come with many ups and downs. While no one knew me at a school we were fairly new to, now everyone does. Kids that are not mine once again know my name and use it frequently all day, are hugging me in public places, giving me sweet notes, and compliments.

Then, you have my own 2 kids. Despite the fact that I've never worked harder in my life to provide for them-groceries, field trip money, money for their entertainment-movies, gifts for friends' birthday parties, new clothes for volleyball etc. they like and appreciate me currently at an all time low. Why? I am tired. I have no spunk by the time I get home. My creativity is shot because I've used it all up in the classroom. I'm in a hurry again. And number 1 on the list...I am grumpy very grumpy because my body is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. And I am left with an overwhelming feeling of drapetomania:

My husband wants to know why my son's grades have dropped in the past 7 weeks? I am solely responsible for all things school related for M and W. Because I do it alone without any complaints maybe it just looked.....easy? Maybe no one realized how hard the speech scheduling, the language tutoring, the homework checking, the studying for spelling tests, the editing writing assignments, the making a 7 year old redo work until it was right, actually were or how much of my time was required to do it all.

Tomorrow I will get up between 5 and 5:30AM, and make sure the kids are dressed with the school uniforms I will have laid out for them tonight. I will make them breakfast, pack their lunches or snacks, or water bottles, sign their notes, dole out their field trip money, herd them into the car by 6:45AM. I will reschedule M's orthodontist appointment and my after school Monday tutoring because it is my turn to carpool the volleyball team to practice tomorrow which I will have to leave work early to do and will return with a load of girls at 6:30 pm. I will teach for 8 hours and squeeze in a 20 minute lunch of pretzels and a cheese stick (because of course I still have to watch my weight). I will read emails from 2 accounts and continue on with my room mom duties preparing for the Valentine's Day party and Teacher Appreciation Week. I volunteered for this room mom job when I thought I would have more than enough extra time this year to do it and most importantly because I wanted to and still do.

It doesn't really matter that I am worn down to those in my household. I have done a terrible injustice to myself. I have played the unrealistic role of supermom for 11 years doing everything without any help from anyone and very little complaining-actually priding myself that I COULD do it all. Because I have done this, my husband thinks any little bit of help like picking up a pizza or cooking a couple nights out of the week or moving laundry from the washer to the dryer to the floor is a big deal. And yet I am left still stressed out still exhausted and still expected to do it all.

I have often been envious of those moms I see that can depend on and drop their kids off at the grandparents' or the aunt's house for a quick afternoon or weekend. Or have people. People that can keep the kids on a teacher inservice day or pick them up from school for an orthodontist appointment or help schlep them to a volleyball game. Or just help in general.

I am back to square one in that I realize if anyone will "treat" me it will be me. If anyone will plan something special for me it will be me. And if I don't do it then it won't get done.

Had I known this, the working mom me from 11 years ago would not have suffered to be supermom or taken pride in doing it all alone. Unfortunately, it's like those commercials that played about the moms on the floor having had a heart attack in the midst of being "supermom". The commercials about ignoring the warning signs.

The working mom me is highly engaged, appreciated during working hours, admired from 7:45-3:15 and contributes financially. My neighbors don't comment what do you DO all day to me the working mom, but instead compliment on the role of teacher.

On the flip side the working mom me doesn't sketch or do art anymore. I don't blog much because there is very little time. I'm too exhausted to enjoy life. And while I'm doling out the cash for the family expenses no one seems to appreciate the toll it is taking on my body.