Untenable

This is my third straight week of craziness. And to top it all off, that sore throat and cold lingered until they became full fledged laryngitis. It’s so hard to teach when you can’t really talk.

I have so many meetings this week. Just so. many. meetings. And it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, which is evidently happening at my daughter’s school (so I have to bring food for their lunch tomorrow, and buy my daughter’s teacher a gift) but not at my own school. Boo!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices I’ll make moving forward, when it comes to commitments as a parent. I know that “no” is the new “yes,” and that refusing to take on obligations that make you crazy is good self care. I read at least one post a day about how to downsize the things in my life that don’t bring me joy. And yet I’m torn, because I know that if I don’t do these things, no one will. Sure I don’t want to make a dish for the teacher appreciation lunch tomorrow, but I’d be even more upset if the teachers were disappointed by what our parent community provides. They already work for less than anywhere within 30 miles, and have to deal with an insane amount of bullshit bureaucracy. At the very least they deserve a decent teacher appreciation meal.

So what is the answer? Exercise my “no” muscle and walk away? Or feel frantic and frazzled and show up with something to make the teachers feel appreciated?

The end of the school year is already hectic and stressful as a teacher. Now that I’m the parent of a school-aged child it feels totally untenable.

I really don’t know the answer. I envy people who can just say no and walk away. I really do. Perhaps it’s because I’m a teacher, and know what it feels like when the community fails to show up. I’m sure it’d be easier to say “no” if I didn’t know how hard it is for teachers, and how little recognition they generally receive.

6 Comments

  1. Ugh. That is a hard one especially since you are a teacher and know what it feels like to be one. Me, I know I’d pick the bring a meal and feel frazzled in that situation. My kids school is celebrating teacher appreciation week as well and we like to make sure the teachers feel like they are doing a great job, bc they are.
    The no is a new yes thing … I totally agree and also think but what if no one shows up. So when we need a break I say no, I say Yes too though just as often.

  2. Not a ‘gift’, write a note about how the teacher has helped your daughter grow. Be specific. All teachers end up with lots of token gifts that require dusting…. do not add to that collection. And, as a teacher yourself, which you mention in the note, you really cannot afford gift certificates (which part you do not mention, crass to mention money). And yes to the lunch contribution. Not sugar. Maybe deviled eggs??? one doz only. Or a veggy salad in disposable dish.
    Hope your health improves and the warm weather does not make your classes too ants in their pants this week.

  3. So first, thank you for all your hard work. I still can’t believe how much teachers have to pay out of pocket to provide for their classes.

    Maybe it’s just our community & PTA, but we all really pull together to try to give our teachers a well deserved week where we have something to set up for every single day…and everyday we need volunteers or something donated. The barrage of emails usually helps get people. The teacher lists also helps of what the teacher wants or needs.

    Personally…saying No took some getting used to, specifically if the person is a people pleaser, but I got used to it…after I got over the guilt. I finally realized, why show up all frazzled and harbor that feeling onto the teacher/person, who will ultimately feel it. Remember, saying No doesn’t mean you don’t care. Although, I still have a hard time with this.

  4. I let go of my saying No guilt (somewhat) by realizing that when I didn’t say yes, it gave others a chance to volunteer. Now I choose my Yes answers very carefully so I can take care of myself. Would I say Yes to bringing food during Teacher Appreciation Week? Probably, but I would order something because tasty food doesn’t need to be home made.

  5. For me, I have finally learned the lesson that saying no is an essential part of my self care. BUT for things like teacher appreciation week , I reframed it as “what do I have the capacity for?” because for me the guilt of not participating would have taken up more energy than the simple dish (aka store bought and transferred onto my own platter) I chose to bring.

  6. Sorry about the laryngitis and the many obligations! I hope it gets better soon.

    I just say no to almost everything these days. I feel a little guilty, but not much, because I genuinely know it’s the right choice. There’s no way I could have, say, evening meetings every week (let alone several times a week) AND lead a happy, healthy life. I know this from experience. I need at least some no-pressure, no-deadline time to function efficiently. Also, I really want to hang out with my kids in the evening, and I feel guilty if I leave them (actually, it may be that for me, kid-related guilt trumps community-related guilt). I do want to give back to the community, but I’ve made peace with myself that I cannot/don’t want to do it as long as I have small children.

    This got me thinking about cultural differences though. In my country, there is very little pressure for parents to do “extra” for the school or teachers. We buy a nice gift (eg spa gift card) for our kid’s teacher (together with other parents, so we get a really nice one) every Christmas and before summer holiday and that’s it. This certainly makes things easier for parents with small kids & jobs!

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