So, starting off the school year with six absolutely insane weekends of busy-ness has been rough.
Four of the past six weekends, I've been out of town at least one night.
Three of those, I've been out of the state.
All of this has left me quite overwhelmed, frazzled, and burned out, to say the least.
Now, it's all been good things, so I hate to complain. Poor me--I have lots of good things I have to do. Waaaa. It's just that I struggled the last time I went back to work, and I knew this might be rough. Just going back might be rough. And then add in there that I won't be home to be with my two little ones, nor have time to do any of the work that I need to do just to survive the workday...well, that's been very hard.
Really, really hard.
Major respect out there to single moms. I flat out do NOT know how you do it. And remain sane. If Matt wasn't here, I'm pretty sure I would have lost my marbles by now.
This morning, while trying to pick up the pieces from everything I dropped the past week (or, who am I kidding, really the past SIX) I stopped and just put my head on my desk for a minute. Because, wow. I had no idea how I'd get through the work day in one piece. And I sure didn't know how I'd have time to eat anything, or grade anything, or plan anything for the rest of the week.
And I knew when I went home, it wouldn't get done until after the kids went to bed. Because I missed them so much this weekend (and, really, the past SIX). And, I'm sorry essays and DBQs, but you just won't come before them. EVER.
And then I also accepted the fact that I would probably not be able to do anything after they went to bed, because I was still trying to get some sleep (since I'm a freak and NEVER sleep well in a hotel--I mean, EVER) since I hadn't slept more than 4 hours a night the past two weekends.
And I just wanted to keep my head there for a minute. Just a few minutes.
How am I going to do all this? Until June?
I've had some pretty rough patches here thinking about my weight, too. I realize that I'm being unrealistic and it hasn't even been eight months yet. But this time it's coming off much slower, and I have more to lose. And it's starting to really, REALLY get to me.
Yet I don't even have time to grade. Or eat lunch. Or go for a run.
Agh. Head on desk. Keep it there for just another minute.
Then, I figured I'd better get my head off my desk and go check my mailbox, since I didn't even get to do that before I left on Friday. So I headed down, reached in, and found some more stuff to grade and a pink Warm Fuzzy paper that the kids can write to each other. I wondered who it was supposed to go to, and, uh oh, was I supposed to pass this out last period? But then I saw it had my name on it.
So I opened it up. From one of my former students, who I had for two years. An extremely talented girl who happens to be an amazing speed skater and has her eyes on the Olympics someday. And this is exactly what it said:
To: MRS. ZIEMNIK (written in all different colors)
First of all, thank you so so much for putting up with me for two years. I can honestly say you're one of the greatest if not the best teacher I've ever had. Though AP nearly killed me last year :) I was always looking forward to your class. I remember almost daily I would walk into your class dreading what was coming after. (Because I had you 7th period both years, I had skating or long endurance runs after) But I was always drawn to your Ironman number and it hit me one day: you are a mom, pregnant (at the time!), a teacher, AND a triathalete. And perhaps I am wrong, but you always seemed so put together and prepared. It made me feel guilty, as I have so little on my plate compared to you, but it inspires me much more. You are 10x the athlete I am now, but I hope to one day have the same dedication and determination as you.
ps--I basically managed to make this both sappy and weird haha sorry :)
And I stood there in the main office, with my pile of ungraded Chapter 4 questions from last week and the pink warm fuzzy in my hand, and a lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes.
And I remembered how lucky I am to do this every day, as much as it challenges me, and despite the fact that the past six weeks have been the hardest I've had in a while. Every once in a while, I get to hear something like that, and it feels like a burst of energy that will carry me through the next ten school years. And I think that triathlon is the same, too--challenging, humbling, and overwhelming at times, but so, so worth it if you stick it out to that finish line.
Sometimes you just have to put your head on your desk for a minute. But then you pick it back up and get the red pen out, and start slowly but surely working your way through the pile. And remember that the whole reason you're there is to make someone else a little better and a little stronger, and in the process, you look at yourself and realize you are, too.