Recommendations Wanted

One of the reasons I’m so overwhelmed right now (and writing posts like yesterday’s) is because the whole president of the PTA thing is totally kicking my ass. So not only is everything new at work, where the constant room-changing creates an air of daily chaos and stress that carries into the rest of my life, but I’m constantly thinking about, planning, responding to emails, discussing, and stressing about PTA and PTA events.

I knew the position was going to be hard, but I had no idea how hard (I also didn’t anticipate just how bad the work situation would be this year–it’s so much worse than I feared–and that is definitely exacerbating the PTA issues). One problem is that the most important person on my team–the woman who has been on the board the longest, and who was technically our fundraising chair–left on the third day of the school year when her daughter finally got the transfer they had been requesting since last January. She has been amazing about helping me with the big fall projects that I’m totally clueless on, but after October she will officially faze out. I’m so fortunate that the other woman who has been on the board for a long time is still helping me a ton, even though she technically termed out as Secretary and now is officially in a very low-key role. The new Secretary is totally game to help, she just doesn’t know what she’s doing (totally understandable as this is her first year and the whole operation is mostly a shit-show). The Treasurer seems very checked out, and I don’t know if it’s because she’s moved to a short-term rental while trying to sell her house (so stressful, I know) or if she’s just burnt out on PTA and the school in general, especially since she doesn’t know where she’ll be living next year, which might mean her kids won’t even be at the school anymore. The VP is doing exactly what I expected she would do, which is absolutely nothing, and that should be fine because I didn’t expect to have a VP at all, and I wouldn’t have had one (it’s not like she took the position from someone who would be doing more–no one else wanted the position), but it still bothers me, probably because I did so much last year as VP, and could really use more help this year as president.

Anyway, all that to say, I have two (and a half?) people who are helping me with a shit ton of stuff, and fall is a very busy time of year, and there is just a ton going on. Also, I will admit that it’s depressing to be the president of the PTA at a school where no one cares about being on the PTA or helping in any of the causes (okay, some people care but it’s a VERY small percentage). Which brings me to why I’m writing this post…

If we get to the end of this year and all we did was barely manage to maintain the status quo, which is not accomplishing a lot, I will not only be totally and completely depleted, but also incredibly disappointed. While current interest in the PTA (and school community) is depressing (to me at least), there is opportunity for building a base of active parents, because all the shit that went down last year has lit something of a fire under the asses of some parents, they just aren’t quite sure what to do with that renewed interest in participating. I really do think that if we approached the situation in new and productive ways, we could make a positive change that might carry forward at the school. I also know that I have NO IDEA how to go about rallying the parents at a school with a primarily socioeconomically disadvantaged student population.

If anyone out there has any resources that might help me with this, I’d so appreciate you sending them along. I will reach out to the state PTA, but when I have in the past, they haven’t had much of value to share with me. Frankly, it’s been disappointing.

I guess what I’m looking for are books or articles or blogs/sites that talk about community building and (sadly I have to care about this, as it’s technically PTA’s main purpose) fundraising, specifically in lower-socioeconomic communities. We also have a language barrier issue to overcome as about half of the families either don’t speak English at all, or don’t feel comfortable communicating in English. Even some good resources on grassroots movements could help. I honestly don’t know, I just have no idea what I’m doing, and I want to be more proactive in my attempts to make some real and lasting change, no matter how small.

Why do I even try?

Sometimes it feels like, Why do I even try? Because no matter my intentions, or the steps I take to ensure something happens, life will intervene, and I end up back where I started. 

Last night I wanted to make up for some sleep lost the two nights before, so I did only the most necessary work after my call to Guatemala, and went to bed. Of course my daughter woke me up at 5am and I never got back to sleep (probably because my body was like, hey, six hours, we’re done now right?) so it ended in a wash. Maybe I can get in that extra hour tonight..

Last year I negotiated for first period prep so that I wouldn’t be missed if I were a few minutes late in the mornings. But with our block schedule, Wednesday starts with 2nd period, so I have to be in class that day at 8:30am. Last Wednesday I got up super early, got my daughter up 15 before the norm, and we ended up at her school with plenty of time to spare. I was so thrilled I was going to get to work in time to make a few copies before my first class. Then I got on 280 and hit the worst traffic I’ve seen on that freeway in years. Turns out a car ran into a tree down by my work and it took me over an hour to get to school. I was so late a friend had to cover my class for 15 minutes.

Last Thursday night, after I led my first PTA meeting as president, I was so exhausted I could barely see straight. So I went to bed early with the intention of finishing work in the morning. Of course my son woke up only 10 minutes after me and I got nothing done. I spent Friday creating activities on the fly because I had absolutely nothing prepared. 

Sometimes it feels like, why do I even try? 

Blerg. I’m so tired. 

Finding Time

I have not been finding time to write here. I’m doing so much new stuff at work that I have to spend more time preparing than I used to. By the end of most nights, the idea of sitting down to write isn’t very appealing. 

I also feel like I’d be saying the same thing over and over again, which no one wants to read. So I don’t say anything at all. 

But I hate to be away from this space for weeks at a time. It feels like something is missing. 

Last week was hellaciously busy. It was a really stressful week and at the end of it I was so relieved it was over. This week is better but next week is much of the same. October is a nuts month for us. It seems I best keep my head down and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. 

I read the blogs of people who seem to thrive on the busy-ness of life. I thought I was one of those people, but the older I get and the better I know myself, the more I realize I am definitely NOT. I’d much rather have a string of nights with nothing to do, than an event every evening. Did I used to like being busy and at some point I changed? Or do I just know myself better now? In either case, I wish I liked being busy more, because it’s such an expectation these days, that we will make the time to go all manner of things: do more work outside of the regular work day, make time to help at our children’s school, be there for our friends, and of course be totally dedicated to our families. We can’t possibly do them all; we are set up to fail at one or more of them. The game is rigged against us, so I guess we have to change the the rules. 

Too bad I’ve always been such a rule follower. Changing the rules is something I really struggle to do. 

How do you manage the busy in your life?

There’s Always Something

I ALWAYS work out three times a week. I can count on one hand the weeks I didn’t manage to work out three times in the past year. I think it may only be three (and two were during vacations in very hot places).

How do I manage to never miss a workout? Well, for one, three times a week is not that much. It’s less than half of the days, which gives me flexibility. I’d love to work out four or even five days a week, but since working out takes time away from my family, this is all I can manage right now. And since it’s less than my ideal, I am very careful to make sure I always get in my three workouts.

Because working out three times a week is so important to me, it is the first thing I schedule when I’m looking at the coming week. I do have an elliptical machine in my house, which is AMAZING and allows me to workout while my kids are home (I DEFINITELY recommend having an aerobic exercise machine in your house – it makes working out so much easier to schedule). The problem is it’s in my bedroom, so I can’t wake up early and work out, lest I have a grumpy husband (and daughter – who still ends up on the futon on our floor most nights) cursing at me.

I also try to avoid working out after the kids’ bedtime, because I get so energized from the exercise that I have to take something to fall asleep before 1am (especially since I’m not out of my daughter’s bedroom most nights until (9:30pm). This basically leaves me right when I get home from work on the weekdays, and that is a tricky time to make it happen.

With my old schedule, I could sneak out at 2:55, missing the other school on our campus’s traffic (they get out at 3pm) and also the nearby high school’s traffic (they get out at 3:15pm) and be home before 4pm. Now I end at the school that isn’t out until 3:15, which means I can’t beat the traffic to the freeway. This also means I’m never home early enough to work out before I pick up my kids (I used to attempt this once a week). It also means that even if I do get them both home by 5pm, I still only have two hours to get them dinner, get them situated with dinner in front of the TV (yes, I do this horrible thing, because it allows me to work out, and working out keeps me mentally healthy), get changed, work out, stretch and shower, before we start bedtime at 7pm. Let’s just say on those days, it’s hard to execute.

School has been back in session for a month now and my weeks have been very busy. For the first time ever, I’m finding it almost impossible to get in my two M-F workouts (I always do one on the weekend). There’s just always something. Like this week, I was supposed to get my allergy shot Monday, Tuesday I have a staff meeting until 5pm, Wednesday is Back-to-School Night at my daughter’s school, Thursday is the first general PTA meeting, and Friday is a Girl Scout event (AH! I hate Girl Scouts!). I pushed the allergy shot to next Monday (which means it will barely fall inside the three week thresh hold between shots), so I could work out last night and Wednesday I’m going to try to get in a super short run before Back-to-School Night, though this is probably going to blow up in my face. Still, I’ll attempt it, because the thought of only working out Monday makes my skin crawl, I just know I need more stress-busting endorphins somewhere during the week.

Next week is a little better, but the week after that is just as bad. Between work and my daughter’s school, there is just shit all the time.

I really don’t know how I’m going to manage this moving forward, because getting in three workouts a week is non-negotiable for me. It is the number one stabilizer of my moods, the absolute best way to manage my anxiety and depression. I simply can’t give it up. Which means I’m going to have to start getting creative. Maybe instead of three longer workouts I’ll try to fit in four shorter ones. Maybe if I work out twice on the weekends, once during the week (every once in a while) will be okay.

I have to say, it’s been frustrating to feel like I can’t find the time I need to stay mentally healthy. I hadn’t considered, when I took on the responsibility of PTA president, that those thirty extra minutes at work would make such a difference. I hope I can figure out a way to get my exercise on.

When Friendships Cease to Serve

Recently a friend mentioned something about another friend, something that I had not been told. The first friend assumed our mutual friend had shared it with me, as she had shared it with her, but that wasn’t the case. This is not the first time this has happened, and I was reminded again of why I’ve been consciously, and subconsciously, distancing myself from that friend, for a while now.

I was definitely hurt, at least initially, but more than hurting me, it got me thinking yet again about who my real friends are, and whether or not I should take definitive steps to leave some friendships behind. In the past I’ve always landed on… well, I haven’t landed anywhere, ultimately making a decision through indecision. I don’t mention how things have hurt me (which might improve our relationship in the long run) and I don’t take steps to disentangle myself from those friendships. My thought process has always been that those friendships don’t take up much of my time or mental energy, so I might as well just leave them as they are. More friends is always better, right?

But I’m wondering if that is actually the case. Maybe if I keep those friends around, I am actually making it harder to find other meaningful friendships. Perhaps the little I do interact with my friends is taking up valuable mental and emotional resources, making it harder for me to invest in other friendships. And maybe the time I do spend following and participating in text chains is more significant than I realize. Finally, I’m starting to wonder if maintaining these friendships is making it harder for me to truly let go of who I once was and become someone else.

I always considered the fact that I’ve known my college friends since college as a strength in our relationship. Sometimes it felt like the defining aspect of our friendship; as we grew into adulthood, and away from each other, our shared past became not just the foundation, but eventually the entirety, of our friendship. We weren’t creating anything new as friends, we were just hanging on to each other out of respect for our shared pasts.

The problem is, the years when I was very good friends with these women were difficult years for me. To say I was struggling with depression and compulsive eating would be an understatement; they were totally devastating my life, at least on the social level. I was a fucking mess, and I abused alcohol and other mood-altering substances to manage the discomfort. I’m not that person anymore, and I’m recognizing that participating in friendships whose foundations reside in that difficult time, are not necessarily healthy in the here and now.

I want to clarify that this has nothing to do with the people I was friends with back then. They are wonderful women, who stuck with me when it wasn’t necessarily pleasant to do so. I owe them a lot. And they have grown into very interesting and engaged adults who I’m sure I’d enjoy hanging out with if I were to meet them right now. But I didn’t meet them now, I met them 20 years ago, when I was a wreck, and whenever I think of our time together, I am confronted with a past I’d rather not relive.

I think this would all be fine, if things weren’t happening now that call into question our friendship, and send me spiraling back into past hurts in an attempt to explain current ones. I can’t try to figure out why a friend treats me so differently than another woman in our group without rehashing all the hurt that has passed between us. And I don’t want to revisit all of that stuff. I believe I’ve confronted it, learned from it, incorporated it into who I am, and moved on, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the past when I’m trying to make sense of the present.

The truth is I’m a very different person now than I was even 8 years ago. I don’t know if these friends can ever really know me for who I have become, when the bulk of their experiences with me were shared with the person I was. I’m sure if we had opportunities to spend real, quality time with each other now, we could build a friendship that is relevant and meaningful, but in the absence of those opportunities, we’ll always be stuck in the past. And our friendship will always be hindered by it.

This is a revelation for me, that my friendship might actually be hindered by our shared past. I always considered that its core strength, but lately I’m recognizing it is a potential weakness.

So what would I actually lose if I deliberately distanced myself from these women? A text chain that I only halfheartedly participate in? The chance that we might meet up some day and it will be kind of fun? They didn’t even remember my birthday this year. Sure none of my other friends did, but they aren’t those kinds of friends, the kinds who should remember my birthday because they knew me when it mattered.

The truth is, I feel so uncomfortable communicating with one of these women that I don’t really want to participate in the group as a whole, at least not in a meaningful way. But I would still like to be friends with the other two women. For one that means actually calling her on occasion, and seeing her when she’s in town (her parents live close to mine). For the other it means the occasional text and a visit every couple of years, when I’m near her or she is near me. I think I could maintain those friendships without being a part of the group. The reality is I haven’t really been a part of the group in a long time.

I’ve written posts about this a few times, and always decided to just stick with the status quo. I did this because, while I recognized that my continued participation didn’t bring me much positive or meaningful connection, the group wasn’t a negative presence in my life. Now I’m seeing that it is, in fact, affecting me negatively. I don’t like who I am when I’m hurt by this friend, and I can avoid being hurt if I walk away.

There is also a part of me that believed I need to just suck it up, and deal with this shit, because I was who I was and I don’t deserve to move past it, not completely. Or that I am meant to learn something new as I navigated our relationship. But that’s bullshit. Maintaining friendships that don’t serve me, or actually hurt me, is a useless endeavor. And if I haven’t learned the lesson yet, I’m probably not going to. I don’t need to pay for some past mistakes. I have accepted who I was and learned from my missteps, there is no reason to stay mired in regret.

So I’m going to do it, I’m going to deliberately step away from a friendship, hoping I can still salvage the other two, and see where I end up. I’m not quite sure how or when I’ll do it, but I know it’s going to happen, and deep inside I feel the most sublime relief. It’s going to be hard, but for the first time, I know this is the right thing to do.

Neither Here Nor There

Some random thoughts on a Thursday.

~ Finally, after five straight days of stifling weather, it’s below 80 in my house again. In fact, the coconut oil solidified – it must be in the low to mid-70’s! For three days it was between 90 and 95 degrees IN OUR HOUSE, which is above the garage and tenant’s unit, so technically “upstairs.” We spent a lot of time in front of our two fans, and hanging out in our tiny entryway, which was WAY cooler. Oh, and taking cold showers (such a fan of those now). But today the temps finally dropped for real. I’m working out right now, and adoring the cool breeze. It’s been so long since I felt that tingle against my skin.

After that insane heat wave, I can’t wait for fall to officially arrive. Too bad September AND October are the Bay Area’s warmest months.

~ We decided we’re taking our kids to Disneyland over the long weekend in October. I’d rather go when it will be less crowded, but it’s too hard to miss three days of school, and I don’t want to take my daughter out for that long either. So we’re driving down on Sunday, hoping Monday at California Adventure isn’t too bad, and hitting up Disneyland on Tuesday. Then we drive back Wednesday. This is all for our son’s birthday, which is later in the month.

I took my daughter to Disneyland when she turned four but it was a much cheaper trip. Just she and I went and we stayed with a friend in LA on the way down so we only had to sleep two nights in motels. Now there are four of us that need tickets (god they cost so much!) and three nights in a motel since none of my LA friends can accommodate our whole family. I know we are so fortunate to be able to go, but the cost is still stressing me out. Hilariously, I really wanted to splurge on the Disneyland Hotel, but it turns out it costs almost as much to stay there for one night as four tickets to get into the parks, so the Holiday Inn it is. I’m disappointed, mostly because we stayed at that hotel when I was younger and I remember how awesome it was to this day; I’d love to give that to my kids. But alas, we don’t have the money and I know they will be so excited to go to the parks, so I’m focusing on that (and the fact that we can drive, which saves us a ton). How do families that have to fly afford to do this kind of stuff?

~ Speaking of money, I am realizing that I have a renewed desire to change my relationship with the green stuff and am trying hard to capitalize (ha!) on the momentum. I was thinking the other day how miserable I was during the years when my life was taken over by compulsive eating, how dark and long that tunneled seemed and how desperate I was to get out. And now I am and life is SO MUCH BETTER. If I could similarly redefine my relationship with money I’d be a much happier person, I know this. I’m hoping this time I may be in the right mindset to make real changes, because I’m no longer trying to spend less or adhere to a set of (basically) arbitrary rules, but instead want to commit myself to forever altering the way I interact with money. We shall see how it goes.

~ There are four people in my social orbit how are expecting their second children, and in interacting with them, I’m realizing I still have complicated feelings about pregnancy. The weirdest thing? Most of it doesn’t have all that much to do with my own experience. Pregnancy still makes me, more than anything else, extremely anxious. I’m always worried the worst will happen. I believe this is due to spending the first six years of my life watching my parents lose a child and then suffer three still births. I don’t think any of it was spoken of much, but I had to know it was happening and it all left an indelible mark on my psyche, one that defined my own pregnancies and defines the way I feel about other people’s as well. Of course I never say anything to anybody about my fears – I’m not that damaged – but my anxiety, along with my history surrounding pregnancy, just makes me feel like a real weirdo when it comes to people expecting. Mostly I just want them to be done with the pregnancy part, and fast, and I know that’s not how I should feel. Blerg. I guess I was hoping my ambivalence surrounding the topic would fade as I got farther away from my own family building experience, but no, it’s still going strong. So frustrating.

~ Speaking of pregnancy’s lingering effects, I saw the pelvic pain specialist for the first time in a couple of years, and evidently if a treatment of topical estrogen and steroids doesn’t heal the skin that STILL tears open (after SEVEN YEARS) every time I do you know what, I’ll be getting surgery over the winter break. How cutting the scarred tissue out and sewing what’s left together will resolve existing scar tissue that won’t fully heal I don’t yet understand (and she seems very reluctant to do it, so maybe it has a high probability of not working). I’m sure I can decline the surgery, and might, but if this doesn’t work, it will suck to know that I’ll create an open wound every time I enjoy intercourse. I declined the surgery to correct my prolapse because it doesn’t bother me much on a daily basis, and is only a big problem when I’m having my period and want to swim (because I can’t wear a tampon), which has only really happened once since my son was born (this summer in San Diego). Also, it only has a 70% chance of working, and then a 50% chance of returning to its original state even if it does work. Those seem like shit odds for having a surgery. If the chances of a surgery actually correcting my scar tissue are that abysmal, I’ll decline it too.

I write about this stuff because I think it’s important for people to know that pregnancy and vaginal births can have long-term negative effects. There is such a culture of silence around these possibilities, and pregnancy and vaginal birth are so thoroughly revered in our society, people can be totally blind sided by prolonged issues, especially when doctors admit they are totally normal, and even common! So here I am, the voice of uterine prolapse and unresolved scar tissue. Shit sucks and I’m still dealing with it, seven years later.

 

End of an era

When my daughter turned one, a family friend gave me a year-long membership to the Discovery Museum, a hands-on play space geared towards kids under 5. I spent a lot of time there with my daughter when she was younger. Even when going meant being painfully reminded of our secondary infertility (I swear, every woman there is pregnant and chasing a not-yet-two-year-old), I still went because it was a great way to kill a weekend morning with my little one.

I haven’t taken my son nearly as much, because we live farther away now, and it’s not a great place to bring kids that aren’t so close in age. By the time my son was old enough to enjoy the tot room, my 4.5 year old daughter was too tall to get in, and all the rooms she could go in weren’t quite appropriate for her brother. By the time he was old enough to go into the rooms she liked, we kind of forgot about the place altogether.

This weekend I took my son for the first time in over a year, because their Daniel Tiger exhibit was closing, and even though my son no longer watches Daniel Tiger much, I knew he’d love to “meet” him. I invited my daughter as well, even though she is┬átechnically too old to go into the Daniel Tiger part, but she didn’t want to go, so I ended up just taking my youngest.

It had been so long since we last visited the Discovery Museum that my son couldn’t remember it at all. The morning before we went, I pulled out some of his sister’s photo books to find some pictures of her playing in the tot room. Flipping through those books, I was struck by how different her childhood was than his has been, how fixated on her we were, how everything revolved around her, and us being her parents. We saw so many friends who had kids her age, I made a point of going places with her and doing fun things. I know part of this was because I was desperate just to pass the time with a toddler, but part of it was also because I was completely wrapped up in what it meant to be her mother.

I have of course, not made my son any pictures books. I stopped at 2 years for my daughter so I only have to make him two for things to be equal, but still, it’s probably never going to happen. Besides, I don’t know if I could make him a book that is just about him, and not about our family, because he just hasn’t had that same kind of baby- and toddler-hood as his sister got, where everything revolved around him. His sister is in at least half of the shots of him, if not more.

Hanging out in the Discovery Museum this weekend, after flipping through my daughter’s photo books, brought back a lot of memories. I was struck by how long ago my days there seemed, and how different my life was. All the kids there are so small, most of them in diapers. My almost 4-year-old towered over them (mostly because he’s as tall as a 5-year-old, but also because there are way more 1- and 2-year-olds there). I realized as my son darted around the different rooms, that my 7-year-old would be bored. I tried to get her to come, mostly so my husband could get a break after covering me while I went to work all day Sunday, but also because I thought she’d have fun. My son is now too tall for the tot-room and I was sure we could sneak her into the Daniel Tiger exhibit for the ten minutes my son was interested, but once we got there I realized it was good she didn’t come, because everything there would have been deemed “for babies.”

And that’s because it is. It’s a place for babies and toddlers. And I don’t have a baby or toddler anymore. My kids are getting bigger, and aging out of former staples like the Discovery Museum. That is hard for me to wrap my head around.

When I think back on my daughter’s infancy and toddler-hood the most salient aspect of that time is the long hours, and how desperate I felt to fill them. I was always spending money on toys that might engage and entertain my daughter, always taking her places so that eventually we could come home, instead of feeling stuck there all day. I was always trying to do things, and every day felt like a eternity.

My life doesn’t feel like that anymore. My daughter can listen to an audiobook or actually read a book herself, for a decent amount of time. Even my son can play with his cars for 10 minutes without needing a companion. Sometimes (shock! gasp!) they even play together! We go places now because it’s expected of us, or because it actually sounds like a fun thing to do. My kids have friends they actually want to hang out with. They are two people with their own ideas and opinions. The days no longer feel like eternities (well, sometimes they can).

I don’t know the point of this post, I guess today I was just reminded of how long ago early motherhood happened, and how much I’ve grown and changed since then. Parenthood is changing, and mostly I’m thrilled with how it is different. But today I was thrust back into that time, when everything was new and I couldn’t separate any part of myself from the new, all-encompassing identity of mother. Those years were so intense, and when I was in the thick of it, it seemed like they would never end. But they did, without me even realizing it. I appreciate the opportunity today to acknowledge that, and reflect a little on how far I’ve come. To realize I’ll probably never go to the Discovery Museum again, and that is okay. I look forward to all the new places me and my kids will discover, together.

Breaking Records

Yesterday was the hottest day in San Francisco’s history, or at least in the 143 years they have been recording the temperature. It reached 108* in some parts of the city. It was only a few degrees warmer on the peninsula, which is usually a lot hotter than up here.

This morning it’s already 90* at only 9:30am. Looking at weather.underground, the temps in Oakland (the East Bay) and Concord (inland East Bay) are almost 10 degrees cooler. Usually they have much higher temps than San Francisco. This weather pattern is so, so weird.

A 100 degree day is hot anywhere, but you have to remember than in SF, almost no one has air conditioning. Most people don’t even have fans, at least not very good ones. We don’t usually need them! In SF we open a window to enjoy a cool breeze, we don’t have to create one with electricity. For us, 90* is an insanely hot day in the middle of a record heat wave, 108* is totally unheard of.

Right now my house feels like an oven and it’s only going to get worse. We have a birthday party at someone’s house (UGH!) and then we’ll just be hunkering down and trying to stay hydrated. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be in the 80’s, but today was supposed to cap out at 90 and it’s already reached that so I don’t have a lot of hope that tomorrow will be much cooler.

I know this is not a big deal when compared to the historic flooding in Texas. It’s just so disconcerting to see these extreme weather patterns all over the country: polar vortexes, 500-year floods, historic highs. Hard not to feel like we’re headed toward Armageddon.

 

Where I’m at

So, we’re a week and a half into the new school year and I am still getting my ass handed to me every day at work. If it doesn’t get better, or I guess if I don’t get better at this, it will absolutely be my worst year of teaching ever. And there have been some bad years.

Every day I am racing from one place to the next. Every evening I get home and it feels like I’ve run a marathon. My house is a shit show. My car is even worse. I have to work every evening until after midnight to be even a little bit ready for the next day, and even then I’m not ready enough. My life absolutely feels untenable right now.

And it’s supposed to be 104 tomorrow. Did I mention none of my classrooms have air conditioning?

I am so looking forward to a three day weekend, so I can spend one full day at work hoping to get in front of the next four days. There is no winging it when you have to load everything you need into a wagon and haul it to every class.

Part of the problem is our schedule has changed. We only have 34 minutes, from bell to bell, for lunch! By the time I’ve packed up one classroom and stored my stuff in the science hall, there are only 25 minutes to eat, and I need five of those minutes to pee! How am I supposed to make that work?! I also get out a full 45 minutes later than I used to, which means the traffic is a lot worse, and I’m not getting my kids most days until 5:30pm. Part of the reason I wanted to be a teacher is so I could pick up my kids early! Of course it doesn’t work out that way. I didn’t think those 45 minutes would make such a huge difference, but they do.

I’ve cried every day since school started, some days multiple times. It’s been a really rough start.

Every one tells me I’ll get the hang of it, and find a rhythm. Maybe that’s true, but if I do, it will have to be at a fast tempo because there is just no other way to make it work. At this point I just hope I’ll stop leaving important shit in every classroom, so I can stop sending kids to interrupt other teachers while they get my stuff.

I wanted to wait until I had better news to share here, until I could come to this space and say: It was so hard but it got better. It might be months before I’m ready to say that, so here it is. This is where I’m at right now, and it’s not pretty.

But I also know it’s a first world problem, to be potentially miserable at a decent paying job. I know people are losing everything in Texas right now, some are losing their lives. I know people are mired in deep, inconsolable grief. I know this. Writing this post is a petty thing, but right now it’s all I got.

Hopefully things will get better.

 

Rising Tides

When we were in San Diego we went to the beach one afternoon after my son’s nap. We didn’t get there until 4pm, but we figured we’d have a good hour or two to play before it got too cold. 

This beach is on a bay so there are no waves, and you look out on sail boats bobbing at their anchors, against the backdrop of a Air Force base complete with F-16s. It’s a nice spot if you have kids who are intimidated by the unrelenting waves of the Pacific. 

While we were at the beach that afternoon the tide started to come in. Because of the shape of the sand bars and the nature of its location in the bay, the water collected in some areas before breaking into another miniature valley and rushing to fill it. 

I found the rising water fascinating. You couldn’t see anything change when you looked at the bay, but on the beach, as the water pushed into every available space, there was no denying the encroachment. The geography of the beach was changing right in front of our eyes.

My school year started in earnest this Wednesday, but really it felt like it started on Monday, when I dropped my daughter off at her first day of second grade and then struggle to make it to a staff meeting on time. Since then every morning has been a series of angry out bursts and complaints from the kids as we try to shepherd them through their morning routing as gently and efficiently as possible, followed by a whirlwind of meetings and emails and attempts to prepare myself for a new year without a classroom, and teaching in a totally different way. 

Throw in a doctor’s appointment, Back-to-School Night presentations, a PTA board meeting and the aftercare start of the year meeting and it’s been a super intense week. 

September and October’s calendars don’t promise much respite. I spend about 10 minutes every day talking myself off that beach, where I feel the water rising all around me, and know I’m totally helpless to stop it. What if the current carried me away?

I know the start of the school year is always stressful, as the mother of a sensitive student and a teacher myself, but this feels like a whole other level of intense. I keep telling myself to take it one hour at a time, but each one of those hours can feel like an eternity. Changing rooms is so hard for me, I’m constantly forgetting important materials I need. Picking up both kids at 5pm is so exhausting when all I want to do is get home. Fighting with my daughter over new homework she can’t remember how to execute is incredibly frustrating. Watching a friend change schools and knowing I won’t have her mom’s help on PTA this year is panic-inducing. There is just so much, I already feel like I’m drowning. 

I know I just need to breathe. I know it will get better. But man, this week has been so rough. 

I hope the tide goes out soon.