Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What 5 weeks off work taught me

It has been an interesting break from work that I've completed. 3 weeks away from the classroom, and then another 2 weeks of break. A relative told me that there was a reason why it would happen during the school year and to go with the flow. Of all school years, this has been the most frustrating to me so I do find it interesting my medical needs came up when they did.

In the break I found that I really like being at home. Of course, there was a lot to do - Christmas shopping & the like - and I could get that all done while the kids were at school. Once I could stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, cooking was (almost) fun because I had the time to plan ahead and everything was ready. I could do things for my family and for myself, and thus evenings were more relaxed (and Doug!) because there wasn't laundry, dishes, medicine to pick up, presents to wrap, etc. hanging over us.

But I can see that staying home all the time would be hard on my brain. I like people, I like conversing, and the checkout lady at Kroger's just doesn't cut it. But on the other hand, I'd have the time to join groups; I could read a book for book groups, go see artsy films and do discussions at the library, women's Bible study at church, and an idea I've been toying with lately - teach digital scrapbook classes. I could cart the boys to their ever-growing list of places (therapy, swim lessons, etc) and be completely relaxed about it.

So why don't I quit? That brings up a whole different host of issues. I love working with my students, first and foremost. I love the subject I teach. I enjoy most of my coworkers and count a small number as personal friends as well. I like the challenge of getting an idea across to students; learning new strategies and trying them out in the classroom. The kids make me laugh daily with their dramas & observations on life.

A perfect world would be converting to part-time again. That is definitely a consideration I'm keeping in the back of my mind. Within a couple years I suspect there will be a few more retirements and perhaps I can negotiate. The best would be the first 3 morning classes of 8th graders; I would still have lunch with coworkers, I'd be done by noon, and have the afternoon to myself. I'd be totally willing to stay on the days we had meetings, because I could do planning and grading on those days. What a fantasy...

All this ruminating has led me to think hard on a comment a coworker-friend made, when I explained all this (but more briefly) to her. She said, "It makes you rethink how much work you put into work, doesn't it?" I guess I can't do it all. So the next few months I will strive to balance my physical work and my mental work; try to keep my mental work at school especially, because sometimes all I can think about when I get home is all the stuff I have to do at work. Hopefully if I can do this, then home life will be calmer as well. Until we win the lottery, that is.  More is in the works at school to help me bring about balance, but I can't really mention it right now as it's not "official." So there's a teaser to keep ya'll coming back.

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