The clock reads 5:40 p.m.. My body would believe that it is at least several hours later. I can hear my family chattering in the background, as my mind attempts to wind down from the rigors of the day. This is the week of Parent/Teacher Conferences, and all fellow teachers understand the sheer exhaustion that comes with the lengthy to-do list associated with this week. Although I understand the benefits of this one-on-one time with parents, I have to admit that my cynical nature also rises to the surface as my sleep level declines. During the 7 a.m. staff meeting today, I discovered that a snide, sarcastic individual had joined me in my seat. As we were being coached on the “positive-negative-postive sandwich” with which we should approach difficult conversations, I began toying with my personal example of this communication model.
(Speaking Positively): You [the parents] will only have to meet with me for five minutes. There is a light at the end of this dismal tunnel that you are staring down with your rebellious teen.
(Speaking Negatively): It is going to be a miserable five minutes.
(Speaking Positively): You can leave! I will see you for this same five minutes next semester.
Anyway, that was a very naughty train of thoughts that somehow escaped my lips and caused several teachers to laugh during our very serious prayers. Oh, well. I’ve always determined within myself that the day that I stop laughing is also the day that I stop teaching middle school.
Off to a beautiful start, the next several periods sped by in a flurry of grading, classroom discipline, classroom laughter, middle school jokes, and middle school smells. By the time lunch time rolled around, I knew that I needed to escape my desk for a few blissful moments of sanity. As I spent the next 25 minutes or so jogging around the nearby pond, I tried to remind myself that I was a human being, a mature adult. Matter of fact, I have a life outside of school. You couldn’t prove that fact by my unbalanced lifestyle over the past few weeks; however, this too shall end. One day, I will be able to exercise on a regular basis, sleep on a regular basis, eat a meal without thinking about how to best multi-task around my microwave dish, come home and love my husband without struggling to simply walk up the stairs to my bedroom. Maybe that is Heaven. Maybe that is retirement. Either way, it is a nice, comforting dream during weeks like these.
Grad school projects claim the majority of the evening stretched out before me. Yet, I’m also considering a bubble bath . . . maybe some coffee to add to the cups I’ve already consumed . . . maybe some ice cream to really take advantage of my lack of regular exercise. . .
Whatever I decide to do tonight, however, I want to sit and savor and remember that life is good. I have fellow teachers that laugh with me. I have students that are remorseful rather than belligerent about the innocent kiss that I witnessed in the shelter of the backpacks and lockers. I have a husband who adores me and did the dishes. I have a God who strengthens me each and every day. I even think He appreciates or at least tolerates my sarcasm.
If you are reading this and overwhelmed by the mundane, STOP. Look around you. Look out the window. Examine your life. What is good? What is lasting? What is beautiful? Who loves you? Who do you love? Are the leaves donning their splendid fall outfits? Does it smell like cinnamon, pine and pumpkin? Imagine your life without all these mundane, beautiful details. I’m imagining, and it is a dismal picture indeed. I would miss my 95 rowdy, smelly, amazing 13-year-olds. My 25 minutes at the pond reminded me of the glory of autumn. David’s caress reminded me of the safety of his arms. I for one don’t want to miss a moment of any of this. Even if I must change my tune before Thursday’s Parent/Teacher conferences and keep that ventriloquist out of the picture, it is a worthy sacrifice in light of everything that I gain.
So, go ahead. Enjoy a dark chocolate kiss. I just did. It was a good end to a very long day.