As a teacher, summer always comes just at the right time so that I can take a break from the chatter of work. Don’t get me wrong, chatter is good, chatter is great, especially when speaking about kids in the classroom. The energy is rewarding in that students are engaged and excited to learn. To grow. To gain confidence. And to feel safe. To not worry. To embrace themselves. To know they are worthy. And to have a voice. A unique voice that needs to be heard.
That said, I definitely enjoy my summers. I create a schedule that’s not a planned time-frame but rather a loose, relaxing, take it day-by-day lifestyle.
This morning, I woke up three hours later than I would have if I had to go into work. I sipped a hot cup of (black only) coffee while watching Good Morning America. I began writing (again, finally) after six months of nothing noted. I enjoyed a grapefruit before heading out for a walk through the neighboring neighborhood, which is full of foliage and steep hills.
Summer is important because, for me, it is the key to maintaining a calm demeanor. A calm demeanor means protecting my well-being. And protecting my well-being is required for when I return to the classroom for another year of learning and building confidence within my students. Because, what’s better than a very patient teacher?
California is where my heart is, and its also the place where exercise is not my main priority. I work throughout the week in a classroom full of very social fifth graders, and spend my weekends being a hands-on mom while cleaning and organizing the house.
I’ve tried to commit myself to every day after-work walks to encourage the energy that swirls inside my head to relax, but the idea of moving another muscle to help settle my mind is replaced with the reality of a cup of tea, a couch, and the remote control.
Arkansas, on the other hand, was my go-to destination. The lush green land filled me with gusto. With tons of energy. And plenty of commitment.
Ah, the memories.
Several years ago, while living in The Natural State, Rudy would go to work while I relaxed completely during my off-work visits. Every day afforded me time to leave the house, regardless of the weather, to enjoy the benefits of either a leisure walk or one that was full of vigor. Arkansas has not been forgotten, a place where stillness and reconstitution were found, where I had no commitments except to enjoy myself.
So, now here I sit, wishfully wishing.
If only the two could easily meld, come together. Whenever. At any given time. Always. Because, not only would I continue to be a productive teacher, mother, wife, and domestic goddess, but I would feel the pull from nature to do something I truly enjoy. To go outside and simply walk up and down the hills surrounding my life.
Friday night. I’m exhausted. I’m slouched on the over-sized faded denim sofa, watching TV. My eyelids droop ever so slowly. Yet, I can’t sleep. I will need to pick up my youngest kid. Unless he calls, asking if he can spend the night. I’m a working mom. I’ve been in the classroom all week teaching. This. That. And the other.
As I readjust my slumped position, Ibegin to reflect on my summer life. The one I lived only a few weeks ago. My life away from the school setting. The days I was a stay-at-home mom. Oh, how I enjoyed waking up at a ridiculously late morning hour, like 7am, rather than my working hour of 5am! With coffee in hand, I’d watch recordings of Dateline, Modern Family, and Say Yes to the Dress.
When Brad would wake several hours later (if he didn’t spend the night anywhere), I’d whip up his favorite breakfast – pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, and orange juice – instead of quickly dropping a granola bar next to his cup of coffee. We’d talk. Shoot the shit. Discuss something new. Or revamp something old. Summer days. Days I truly feel connected. Devoted. Stellar. Like a mom.
I know I have the best of both worlds. Staying at home, working, engaging, and being involved is just as beneficial and rewarding as working outside the home. My family needs time with me just as I need time with myself.
And, so, I know, without a doubt, that the Friday night slump will soon pass, bringing forth renewed energy so that I can spend the evening writing up lesson plans for the following week, along with offering Brad and PB and J for dinner.