Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking Time to Breathe

I am not feeling the holiday love this year.  I don't know why, exactly, but in talking with others I don't think I am alone.

On the work front-  yesterday we were discussing how busy everything seems.  We have so many changes going on.  Keeping up with the state and national requirements to make Adequate Yearly Progress and be Highly Qualified takes time.  Sometimes it takes time away from the students and then as a teacher you are planning for days when you will be gone and then when you return, making up for ground that didn't get covered.  As a special education teacher, on top of planning appropriate lessons there is paperwork, more meetings and dealing with the daily crisis situations that pop up.  Often times these crisis are less a result of the student's behavior and more a result of their parents.  I haven't even mentioned the actual time teaching! Holidays equal stress and when you work with students and families who's stress level is already elevated- add more and they boil over!  As hard as we plan to be proactive, this time of year I always feel more reactive and as a result, I take more stress home.

On the home front- where to begin?  We are full swing into our hockey/figure skating season.  I have been on one bus trip and leave for another on Saturday.  I love watching the kids in their activities. I love hearing about the good things that happen in their days. I love watching them play together when they are all getting along.  They remind me of puppies, laughing and giggling- just a pile of kids!  I do not love the moment when playful turns spiteful and someone is yelling at someone else for borrowing without asking or entering their space without permission.   I do not love the impatient response often heard from a teen girl or my snappish response in return.  I do not love all the time away from home and the laundry that seems to breed and the groceries that magically disappear along with the kitchen counter as stuff piles up on it!  I do not love the rush of trying to get from one place to another, organizing rides, papers to be signed, checks to be written, appropriate food supplied for each respective party, and the endless  lists that are running through my head while I should be listening to TJ read.  Before 7 am on most days I have put in a load of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, started supper in the crockpot, and packed a lunch or two.  When I can, I try and squeeze in a workout and every 3rd day, I help TJ with his set change.  Then everyone else wakes up and the sounds of "Where's my jeans?" "Do I have clean underwear?" and "Where's my coffee?" fill the air and try as I might, I am on edge and I'm tired!  Always tired! 

On the holiday front- well, Christmas Eve is 3 days away and I am not done shopping or wrapping and barely have my decorations up.  And, I'm already stressed out about when I will find the time to take them down!  I had my Christmas cards for two weeks ago and finally got them into the mail yesterday.  I love to buy the kids presents.  If I could, I would buy them everything they wanted.  Of course, that isn't possible for 2 reasons- first, the expense and second, what lesson would that teach them.  But, even knowing this I always feel an strange guilt that I can't give them everything.  At the same time, this isn't even supposed to be the primary focus!  This year, I did make them write a list that included something they wanted, something they needed, something they would wear, and something to read.  I am going to do my best to tone it down this holiday.  Considering how last minute this is getting, maybe it will be easier than I expect!  Then we have two days at home and load up for another trip.  I haven't even unpacked my bag from last weekend!  The bonus is the whole family is going but that also means packing my tub of food so everyone can eat!  We have some favorite restaurants but we always need gluten free backup.  And so you see why the lists in my head never go away!  They are endless checklists from which there seems to be no escape! 

On the plus side- not to focus solely on negativity, there are some good things going on since I last had time to post.  Tylie cleaned the living room while I was away last week.  We battle frequently on the T1 and homework front, but she has helped me a great deal taking care of her little brother and sister after school a couple of nights a week.  Taya is finding her groove in hockey and at school.  Her grades have been going up, her points have been going up as well as her penalty minutes, which makes her dad proud!  She has even surprised me a few times with a clean space!  Tessa is doing well in school and her Synchro team just placed first in a competition against 9 other teams.  They were so fun to watch!   She has her first individual advanced competition coming up and is working hard for that.  It occurred to me how different the girls were while I sat at a rink with girls in full make up and fancy hair covered in sparkles,  I was receiving texts from  home about the other one getting penalties for checking!  What a contrast!  TJ is loving life.  He loves school and hockey and the New England Patriots- his latest sport obsession. He was Joseph in the church program which made up for the fact that he didn't get a part as an elf in the school program.   He takes all of his knocks in such stride, he is my hero! 

So, things aren't all bad- just rushed, crazy and often out of control.  I am really hoping that sometime during this break from school we can all take a deep breath and "reset."  Several events these last few months have made me really think and reflect about what is important.  I would like to spend more time "in the moment"  appreciating what I have and where  I am, instead of "on my list" and what lies ahead that I can't necessarily control.   Obviously, flying by the seat of your pants isn't an option when you are as busy as we are and health issues come into play, but- that's my goal for the New Year- to let go of things that I can't change or that really in the end don't  matter!  The hard part will be to slow down long enough to recognize this fact!