I want to take occasional opportunities over this school year to document some of the thoughts and feelings that are emerging as a back-to-work mom. There’s no telling just what I’ll cover here or what will come up.
In case you missed it, I’ve returned to full-time teaching this school year under special and unique circumstances. I decided to start an informal little series about this return after a decade-long absence in the full-time work force. Some of what I’m sharing is serious and spiritual. Some of what I’m sharing is practical or fun.
Here it is November and I don’t know if it’s that mental fatigue has set in, or if it’s just “that time of year,” or a variety of other factors, but this month, in my Back to Work Series, I wanted to visit some of the aspects of working that have been challenging to me.
Previously I have done my best to reflect on the spiritual lessons I’m learning, some of the practical things I’ve enjoyed, and some of the fun parts of the job. All in all, working has been good. But in an effort to tell the whole story, I think it is vital for me to write honestly about the demands as well.
(In no particular order of significance…)
Others’ Demands On My Time:
Maybe it’s selfishness or just something I’m not used to, but it has been adjustment to know that many other people besides my family come first on some days. For many, many years, I have been the boss of my time.
I don’t have a slow speed or a half-way mentality, so wherever I am, I’m there! I’ve had well over one hundred student appointments so far, I’ve had to attend mandatory trainings (both in person and online), and I’m expected to show up well prepared for my job each day. (Obviously!)
These things all demand TIME and energy. As a teacher, I’m just not wired to show up to class and wing it. I organize, prepare, teach/lecture my heart out at 110% every single class meeting, to every class, whether it’s the first time or the fifth time I’ve presented the material.
I go out of my way to make myself available to help my students improve their writing. I have had nearly back to back to back student appointments every day I’m at work in every spare minute between classes and during office hours. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back OR to begrudge that time. I say that to say, when I think of “working”I must keep in mind all of the outside the classroom aspects of the commitment and calling.
| active shooter training, November 6|
My Neck and My Back:
Only a few people will catch that reference. But seriously, I must be getting old because I practically hobble to my car after a day on my feet in heels and after lugging a 10 lb. tote all over campus.
I know that sounds weak-sauce, but it’s true. On Mondays especially, where I’m on campus from 11:30 am until 8:00 pm, my hip is usually about to go out. I’ve had neck and back issues for a few years (bulging and herniated discs) and a bad hip (related to the lower back issues) and it seems to flare up on my long days.
I’m not quite ready to wear “sensible shoes” just yet, but I’m close.
| waaaaaaay too high-heeled booties and my teacher bag loaded down|
The Trade-Off Between Fulfillment in One Area &Feeling the Loss of Other Things:
I can’t state it plainly enough: I LOVE MY JOB!
But there are many things I feel that I’ve had to give up in order to work. Here’s just a short list:
- Being a fulltime homeschooling mom! I’ve missed our time for field trips, my own spin on our curriculum, being the fun mom instead of feeling like the manager of information between co-op, our sitter, and our children.
- Being a fulltime homemaker! I’ve missed out of having more time to truly “be there” for my family in a non-rushed, non-taxed, non-pulled-in-ten-other-directions kind of way. There just hasn’t been a lot of margin time for all of the things I used to feel like I had TONS of time to do; mostly little things like run to the dry cleaners, make quick grocery runs, do a library drop off.
- Having margin time for things that are important and life-giving to me: regular friend time, extra energy to serve in our PWOC ladies ministry, exercise time, and time for personal devotions. Routinely, any “free” time I have seems to be used up by necessary home maintenance, shopping for family needs, and grading papers/responding to student emails.
- Regular writing. (I’ll just leave it at that!)
|class notes for definition essay|
The State of Being Hurried:
I promise I am trying my darn-ed-est to keep taking deep breaths, to pace myself, to remind myself that I can go slow…but many days it feels like there is more to do than there is time in which to do it. This is true at school/work and at home. I don’t know the remedy for this. I don’t know what else to remove from our weekly rhythm; well I do know one thing, but it is a commitment that must be honored for a few more months.
Again, I’ll restate the truth: I LOVE MY JOB! But working has definitely added some extra mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion. I know that just comes with the territory. I know that I find rest in Christ and allow him to help carry my burdens. But the reality remains, that life is busy, busy, busy. And I know how I’m wired: I can’t reasonably keep this pace long term. Many days it has felt like I’m treading water in the deep end; often I long for getting back to the kiddie pool where I can read and work on my tan.
| Monday’s yummy dinner that I eat in about six minutes between classes |
So there you have it! I love working, but sometimes there are parts of it that I don’t love. I want to remain positive and see the glass as (more than) half full. But in full-disclosure, I feel that it is only right to share a few of the obstacles this season has given me.
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,” I Timothy 6:6