Sunday, October 1, 2017


Good Sunday evening. 

A couple of things happened over the course of the last week that affirmed what I've suspected for several weeks now, namely that I am not necessarily handling life as well as I would like to think, perhaps as well as I should. 

Last Monday Trey & I traveled to Jackson with Reagan to see her endocrinologist. Her A1C was an eight. That's not awful, but it's not great. That night I met the book club ladies to eat. I didn't read more than a chapter of September's book, but I was hungry & if I hadn't met them, I knew I'd once again eat a few spoonfuls of peanut butter for supper because I never have the time or energy for more than that. If you wonder how I keep my weight down, here you go: I have a twenty-minute lunch break at school during which I usually eat a tiny salad. Other than that salad, I sustain myself with a yogurt in the morning & throughout the day I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter that are sometimes laced with raw almonds. 

Last Wednesday night I made it to church with the kids so they could attend their mid-week Bible classes. I sat beside Trey in the adult class, & I read A Farewell to Arms. I wasn't particularly proud of myself. I am supposed to be teaching this novel to my AP class but that's not happening. I cannot manage to read much of it. I want to reread it; I love it. 

Over the weekend I consented to taking an antibiotic in hopes it will clear the sinus infection I have battled for about a month. I rarely take antibiotics, & I don't know that I've ever before taken one for a sinus infection, but this time my body is clearly not going to mount a comeback without some outside help. 

A few weeks ago I got a text from a friend inquiring about what, if anything, I could do to help with the upcoming Ladies' Day at church. I started crying when I got her text. I can't even remember if I ever texted her back, but no, no I can't help with Ladies' Day. Not only can I not help, it's doubtful I'll attend because if I don't spend all day Saturday at home doing laundry & grading & planning, the next week is going to be a disaster. 

How can I justify taking time to help with Ladies' Day when I cannot read the material I ask students to read? I can't read the material I am supposed to be teaching. I can't get grades on the essays I ask students to write in any timely fashion. I'm trying. I am not lazy. It's just not happening. 

The great irony surrounding the profession of teaching is that the work does not get done during the workday. My husband goes to work during the week & unless he's in court or driving to attend a deposition, he sits at his desk for several hours a day & he works. He takes an hour or so for lunch, an hour during which he can talk with friends or sit alone & read if he so chooses. He returns to work with a full belly & he works another long-ish stretch in his solitary office knowing I am across town near Reagan should she need insulin. What I've just described is my idea of a vacation. 

You hear a lot about teacher pay, & it's certainly not stellar. Let me tell you this: while pay is certainly a factor that drives many from the teaching profession, I think the frustration of a manic "workday" during which most teachers have no time to do the work they need do is as much of a factor as pay. The time it takes to adequately plan one lesson is considerable, at least for me, someone who hasn't taught the same thing for years & years & who doesn't teach four or five sections of the same subject. The planning & the grading are *pardon the hyperbole* eating me alive because they don't get done between 7:30 & 3:30, & the remaining hours of the day are dominated by my two young kids. Having two young kids is a full-time job. Having a diabetic child is a full-time job, sometimes literally requiring you to sit up at night, to set a three am alarm, to take sick days from work not because you're sick, but because visiting the endocrinologist is an all-day affair. 

The truth is I cannot do all the things I need to do. It is not possible. I am doing a lot of things poorly; I am doing nothing well. I am teaching poorly, mothering poorly, managing Reagan's diabetes poorly, & the honest truth is that if I didn't have kids, I probably wouldn't be at church much right now because I need every minute I can find to stay caught up with grading. Granted, if I didn't have kids, I'd be alone on some island right now with all the books I own, so I guess that point is moot. 

I am obviously not in good spirits. Every Sunday I come home from church & all I want to do is read something. I want to read something I want to read, something that's not likely to ever be mentioned on an Advanced Placement English exam. I want to read what the book club's reading so I can meet with them & discuss it, but the chances of that happening this month are slim to none. I can't justify  the read when I'm sitting in church on Wednesday night fighting sleep & trying to read A Farewell to Arms so I can attempt to prepare a handful of my students for their AP test. 

Trey's twentieth high school reunion is coming up soon. A few weeks ago he told me about the plans for the reunion weekend. I listened to him & then went to my room & cried. He graduated from West Monroe High School; there were around five-hundred people in his graduating class. Their reunions are not low-key, quiet get-togethers before the Homecoming game on Friday night. This reunion requires the purchase of tickets & the planned events will eat up most of my weekend. I want to be one of those people I see sharing memes about the weekend; these people look forward to the weekend & look forward to things like birthday parties & reunions because that's what people who work during the week do on weekends. Teachers teach during the week, & work in every spare moment they can find, at least this one with two small kids does. 

Trey's been gone all weekend, so that hasn't helped my mental state, obviously. My plan is to go away next Friday & Saturday nights. What am I going to do? I'm going to grade essays in a hotel somewhere, of course, while answering Trey's texts regarding what Reagan's eating, how many carbs are in it, etc. It's as much of a getaway as I can manage right now, & if it doesn't revive me, I'll probably be checking myself in somewhere other than a hotel soon. 

There's no peppy ending. If you take nothing else away, remember this: when people say they need to be alone, to read a book, to have time to themselves to think quiet, solitary thoughts, listen to them. Maybe I am incredibly selfish. This has certainly occurred to me & may well have crossed your mind while reading this treatise on my current level of stress. I don't know to whom to attribute this quote, but the idea that, "You can't draw water from an empty well," has constantly been on my mind of late.

I am empty, & I can run on empty for a good while, but clearly it's getting to me. I am more frustrated than I've ever been in my life, perhaps save the months after Reagan's diagnosis. Intellectually, I can do what's asked of me, & I want to do it, but I can't figure out how to get it done while remaining sane & still be a good mother, & a good wife, & a Christian who, you know, doesn't read A Farewell to Arms during church. I have ever before me a mental image of Maslow's hierarchy; I am clinging to the side, sliding down the triangle, desperate to reach that upper tier: Self-actualization. I am not a happy woman if it's impossible for me to find any time to read or write. Don't wonder why I understand & empathize with Edna Pontellier's need to be alone & paint. Is she selfish? Sure, maybe she's a little selfish, but I understand her plight.

The current pace of life is entirely, entirely too much for me & every night when I go to bed I congratulate myself on making it through another day without losing it in grand fashion. I am highly dissatisfied with the daily goal of not losing it but I feel like it's what I can manage most days. I have little patience with my kids & almost none for the general public. If you've asked me lately how I am doing, I absolutely lied to your face. Forgive me. Here's your answer: I've been better.

Like Mr. Thoreau, I have an immense appetite for solitude. When you have small kids who depend on you for everything, including pancreatic function, & eighty teens wanting to know if you've graded their essay, well, solitude is elusive & you cry a lot.


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