The Elusive Other Shoe

Things have been good lately.  Really good.

Yes. I’m still annoyed by my job.  Yes.  My kiddos drive me insane.  Yes.  There is never enough time, or money, or resources, or sleep.

But yet, things have been good.

We took all three kiddos on a walk around the neighborhood today.  The boys ran ahead playing Pokemon Go and chatting with a neighbor friend who turns out to be in Ollie’s class at school.  Charlie toddled. And fell.  And begged to be picked up.  And begged to be put down. We, as the grownups, meandered slowly, relishing in the fact that we live in a neighborhood where it’s ok that the kids run ahead of us and Charlie walks in the middle of the road.

There was an instant that I realized this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  Not days, not months. Years. Probably 5 years if you want to put a number on it. And it was the most amazing feeling.  Nothing extraordinary was happening at that moment or today, and yet, pure bliss.

And then after the bliss comes worry.  Because this kind of happiness doesn’t stay.  At least not for me.  I’m half enjoying the bliss and half waiting for the other shoe to drop.  That elusive shoe that’s always hanging in the background waiting.  Waiting to swoop and and remind you that you’re fallible.  That life is full of ups AND downs.  To bring chaos to the stillness happening around you right now.

So we enjoy the happiness, but on our tiptoes.  Scared to make too much noise.  Scared to make any sudden movements.  Because, as much as we want to believe that this kind of happiness, true and unadulterated happiness, is here to stay, we know that darkness is hiding in the shadows.

So we sit and wait until we hear it…the sound of that shoe hitting the ground.

And then we brace our selves.

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Some September Evening

Today was a good day.  I can’t tell you why it was, precisely, but it just was.

I over slept by 40 minutes (and by over slept I mean chose not to get out of bed for 40 minutes after the alarm went off).  I forgot the ice cream for my class’s Fun Friday and had to turn back around.  I didn’t get a real lunch break because I had five students stay with me for lunch bunch.  I didn’t get quite enough done at the end of the day to be completely prepped for Monday and next week.

And yet…it was a good day.

My students weren’t *too* terrible.

I wasn’t annoyed at my job *too* much.

My kids only fought one time when I got home.

I know this is not the norm for me.  The fighting amongst brothers is unreal.  My disappointment with my job usually takes the forefront of my life.  Certain aspects of my life seem to spiral out of control with no possible way to bring them back into stillness.  I’m usually so wrapped up in myself, always wanting so many things to be different that I can’t see the truly wonderful things I have.

I’ve done terrible things to myself and the people I love, and I’m still living, and breathing, and standing.  This, in and of itself, is a miracle.

Lately I’ve been trying to practice more gratitude, being grateful for all that I do have instead of focusing on what is going wrong.

My kids fight and are insane 90% of the time.  But they’re healthy.  And smart.  And good people.

My job takes part of my soul every single day.  Sometimes I wonder why I even do this.  Then today a very troubled student tells me he misses me.  That he knew he was making progress with me.  That he needs me to be his teacher again.  And it made all of the nonsense worth it.

Money is always tight.  Marriage is always hard.  And yet, I have both.  I have a roof over my head.  My bills are paid (even if it’s just the minimum), and I have love in my heart.

And I am happy. Maybe not always.  Maybe not all the times I should be.  But today I am.

Happy and grateful.

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Drowning on Dry Land

It’s 8:37 and I’ve officially sat down for the first time today (if you don’t count the commute to and from work, which I don’t).  After leaving the house at 7:00 am and returning home at 4:30 I proceeded to all the mom things I do every day: make dinner, pack lunches, play, read, check folders, baths and showers, bed time, etc. etc. etc.

And now, at 8:37, after working a full day with East Baltimore 3rd graders, and coming home to my second (and most important full time job), I’m finally sitting down.

What am I doing, you ask?  Surely, I must be watching TV.  Or cuddled up with my favorite book.  Or simply going to bed early because I’m so freaking tired.

No.  Not any of those.

I’m working again.  Back to job number one.  Though I’m now in my pajamas, sitting on the couch, the work is still piling up.

Tonight’s agenda:

  • grading 60 math packets,
  • inputting the grades of 60 math packets (10 worksheets x 60 kids = 600 grades)
  • writing a letter to parents about our Fall Festival
  • creating a team meeting agenda
  • creating this week’s math quiz (which will later need to be graded)
  • creating a new seating chart because the green and red groups cannot seem to stop talking.  EVER.

And so on and so on and so on. And that’s just one day.  There will be a different agenda tomorrow.

I’m tired.  And beat.  And literally over it.  No matter how much work I do during the day, I’m never done.  I never get the glimpse of being caught up.  And it’s not the stupid stuff like bulletin boards and birthday charts.  Yes, those things matter, but only to a small extent.  The stuff I’m talking about are the non-negotiables: things that are expected of me in this line of work and I have no choice if I complete them or not.

This is my 7th year.  You’d think my now I would have figured out the trick.  I’m tenured.  And seasoned.  And experienced.  But I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.  I still haven’t learned how to get everything done.  I still haven’t figured out how to NOT spend a million dollars a year on classroom supplies.  I still haven’t figured out how to actually ENJOY my job on a daily basis.  Smile…yes.  Be present…yes.  Enjoy…no.

Maybe one day soon I’ll figure it out.  Maybe this is the year I learn how to stay afloat.

And as I reach down to pick up the first piece of grading, Charlie wakes up and beings throwing things out of her crib and talking loudly.

It’s going to be a long night.

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Small but mighty

I sit here at 8:10 on a weekend morning having already been awake for multiple hours.  Charlie actually slept through the night for the first time in a long time, but the boys start their wake up process every morning at 5:30 regardless of weekend status or what time they went to bed the night before.  Sometimes I think back enviously to the time before kids when getting up “early” was 8 am, how after work I could literally come home, sit on the couch and do nothing, when time was not a precious commodity.

And yet, here I am, thinking how I want one more.

To be fair, I never thought I wanted children at all until I was told I may not be able to have them.  Suddenly, it was all I had ever wanted.  And after each one I was sure it was my last one until the universe decided to surprise me in a big way.  Each time I wonder: can I really do this?  And each time I realize that even though money is tight, and resources are slim, I can. We can.

They drive me crazy, every single one of them, there’s no doubt about it.  Max with his constant creativeness thats leaves half finished inventions around my house.  Oliver with his sass.  His constant and unforgiving sass.  Charlie with her fierce independence at such an early age.  And then there’s all the worrying.  School, social issues, and distractibility for Max.  Insane amounts of hyperactivity for Oliver.  Charlie being so tiny and yet so fearless that she’s constantly covered in scrapes and bruises.  But within all this, I love them fiercely and know what a gift it is so have them in my life…to have given them life.

It’s funny.  I know people think it’s relatively easy for me to get pregnant and have babies.  I mean I have three children 7 and under so it can’t be that hard, right? But for the three children I have, I’ve also had an ectopic pregnancy and four miscarriages. So I know the struggle and the loss and unbearable pain along with the amazing amounts of love.

So, when Charlie is toddling around in her baby Sauconys, I’m both proud and depressed.  And when she shows an understanding of what I’m saying, I’m both in awe and saddened.  And when she begins talking my heart both grows and darkens at the same time.  Because while I’m watching her firsts, I am most likely watching my lasts. And I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.

I know all the downsides to having one more baby.  You don’t have to remind me or convince me.  I’m 35 which means a lot of increased risks.  The judgement of others.  We would have to buy a new car.  Mike would delay working for another 3 years.  Formula is hella expensive.  Pregnancy and I never really saw eye to eye (I hated every single minute).  Less sleep than I’m getting now.  Did I mention having to buy a new car? Every single thing points to Charlie being the last in line.

And yet…as I pack up her clothes when she grows out of them, they go upstairs in a box labeled “baby girl clothes” and not to the consignment shop or to a friend.  And as I sit reading or watching TV I make mental notes about what names would be cute on baby number 4.

Because you never know.

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Lost and Found

I seem to have lost myself.  And my will.  And my motivation.  And I can’t seem to find any of them.

I think back to last summer.  Training for the NYC marathon.  Running almost every day, even in the heat. 50 pounds lighter than I am now (the shame).  Happier kids.  Happier life.  Happier marriage.  I sit here and I wonder…what the fuck happened?

When I think about it, I tend to place the blame on other people and situations.  This person came into my life.  This person left.  Work became harder.  A third baby was added.  Time and money were short, as were tempers and understanding.  All of this things can take the blame for my unhappiness, the lack of motivation, the weigh gain, the drinking gain, the indiscretions.

And none of that blame is actually working to fix the problem.  It’s making me a victim.  And I hate being the victim.

Maybe, instead of placing the blame and over analyzing the past year I can suck it up and move on.  Who cares how I got to this place?  Does it really even matter?  The point is, I’m here.  And I need to find my way out.  I know no one can do this for me.  I have to find my way on my own.  But it’s HARD.

I can say, things seem to be headed in the right direction and my support system, though smaller by a few people, is incredibly mighty.  I’m learning to ask for help.  I’m learning to accept help when it’s offered.  Homelife is becoming more concrete, and sound, and loving.

And now to work on the rest.

I’m not used to baby steps.  I’m not used to slow progress.  I’m not  patient person.  When I want something, I want it now.  But with that, my life seems to be a bunch of random “One step forward, two steps back” mishaps.  So maybe now, I go slow.  Take each day and change at a snails pace. Work to strengthen everything instead of just fixing is for a minute.

Maybe going slow isn’t so bad.  Maybe it’s just what need to find where I’m hiding.

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