The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Swimming my way out..

The fact that I haven't blogged in almost three weeks is a testimony to how truly crazy it has been around here.

Let me try to do a quick drive by of it all.

Marc went to Iowa for graduate school for a week. He had gone out of town for fun with a friend the week before, and doing this much parenting on my own in the first couple weeks of elementary school for V and grad school for me... it was just plain too much. SO much fell through the cracks. I somehow miraculously managed to pack my son a nutritious lunch every day; I somehow managed to get all of my own homework done... but not both of us. I accidentally left for school without my own lunch (or brought it and then completely forgot to stop to take time to eat it) on at least one occasion. Vinny accidentally went to school without his homework on Friday. I missed back to school night (which he still doesn't know... he thinks I went, and I feel terrible. He keeps telling me about stuff and saying, "Didn't you see that when you went to back to school night?" but it was my 2nd night of class at CSUN and I felt like I just couldn't afford to miss it).  In a nutshell... things fell apart.

Marc came back, and I went away. "Tag... you're it," is a pretty accurate description of our parenting style lately. We do a triangle game of tag between my mom, Marc, and I, but we get the job done, and my kids seem relatively healthy and happy, so I guess it is okay.

Honestly, me going away was probably the healthiest thing I could do. I was really on the verge of completely falling apart. I spent a couple of days in Palm Springs with friends who can really let me be me and it all be okay, and it really was wonderful.

We somehow survived another whirlwind week. Marc and I even managed to sit down to dinner together with our children on several occasions that week.

We threw together a pretty awesome party for T on Saturday, which really is much thanks to the awesome people at The Jump Around where we had her party. They pretty much did everything. I rushed to shop for presents on Friday night, but then we spent Saturday just getting food ready and watching her play with her presents. By the time we got to the party that night, I felt like my "work" as party host was over. I really got to have fun playing with my kid and talking to my family and friends. I may forever be spoiled on paying places to host my parties, because that was wonderful.

Life is as busy as ever, but we are adjusting.

Marc being in graduate school is not as bad as I thought it was going to be, mostly because he is too occupied to interrupt me, which sounds terrible, but really I mean it as a positive. Although Marc's job has always involved some work from home, his job has never been quite as demanding as mine. When I am NOT in the middle of grad school classes, spending quality time with my family in the evenings is not completely unattainable. I can make time to play with my kids, watch television and chat with my husband, and sometimes even do some things to take care of myself, like go to the gym and stuff like that.
While graduate school classes are in session, it is nearly impossible for me to do this type of stuff. I make time where I can, but there just plain is not a lot of it. I try to reserve the vast majority of my weekends for my family. I savor my weekends, truly. I mean -- this Sunday I even took a nap. How rare is that, right? Anyhow, last year, I know it was hard for Marc to understand that I cannot really focus on my homework and watch a tv show and carry on a conversation. I am the queen of multitasking, so he assumes I can handle it all (because I CAN grade papers, watch a tv show, and have an occasional conversation), but graduate school is possibly the first time in my life I have found completing college coursework honestly challenging, and I don't mean just in the amount of work. I actually cannot multitask this stuff very well.  This always makes me feel really bad when he is trying to have a conversation with me, and I am passively participating or just plain getting irritated.

So... beauty of Marc being in graduate school too is that our evenings have taken on a much different atmosphere. It is not unusual for us to sit silently for hours working side by side. Neither of us feels guilty for abandoning the other.

So life lately pretty much looks like this: We both work our butts off and are pretty much working every second that we are awake Monday through Friday, but we try to let it go (somewhat) and just be parents on the weekends. It is not ideal, but it is working, which is something.

At the beginning of this week, I was feeling just crazy overwhelmed. T's birthday left me with new toys all over the house and old toys to get rid of etc etc, and I didn't get any of my backlog done at all. I stayed at school way late just trying to sort through the massive piles of papers. I just gathered together the entire sea of trees and dumped it on one chair and started sorting into piles: to file, to do, to grade, to pass back, reuse, recycle. I took the "to do" pile home and attempted to cancel my gym date for the evening.

Me: Too stressed for gym.
Barb:  Perhaps you need to the gym Jacuzzi?
Me: Eh.....
Me: Short jog, long soak. See you there.

It actually turned out to be a very worthwhile trip. I know, logically, that exercise, relaxation, and my social circle, do actually help me to keep my head above water, but it is hard to make that add up in my head sometimes.  However... I think well while I run, and even better while I soak, so I came home with a much clearer perspective on the situation.

I reached out for help with the piles. A couple of students are coming tomorrow. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yea!!!  Plus, my pile sorting efforts were actually relatively effective. My desk at work is actually clear.  My lesson plans for Wednesday and Thursday are completely ready. I came up with a decent plan to get my grad school homework managed this week, and I am more than halfway through it. I may actually get to go and enjoy the food truck festival with my kids and my friends tomorrow night, without worrying terribly about everything I have to do.

Things are going to be okay. It really is all about priorities, and sometimes... friends, family, and mental health really do make all the other stuff work out better too.

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