Busy American Days

Alarm, Snooze, Repeat x 3

I pull myself out of bed and into the shower.  At some point during the hottest shower I can endure, I feel the wake up.  My body and mind begin to wake up and the fog lifts momentarily.  I finish and get dressed.  Take one child to school.  Return home to hurry the next child and myself along.  Pack the lunch, maybe eat breakfast, and do hair and make-up.  Take the dog out and pour the coffee.  Coats, bags, and coffee on and in hand as we rush out the door.  If it’s like most mornings, we are behind schedule at this point.  Drop child off at school, and I’m on my way, praying not to get a speeding ticket or have an accident.

On my commute, I redirect my attention to the current events via NPR.  Oh, how I love NPR.  It’s my daily education.  If you follow my posts, you know how much I enjoy learning.  It’s almost meditative.  I’m able to disconnect from myself and thoughts and give my attention to what I would consider bigger, more important matters.  Then the sleepiness returns.  It’s about 8:20, and at 8:30 I arrive safely at work praising God and hailing Mary.  Seriously.

My anxiety and depression come to their first peak of the day.  With a full day ahead, I do not feel hopeful..  I feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities and highly under-equipped for success.  I attempt to decompress.  Deep breaths, check email, prepare lessons.  The morning is underway and I surrender to the day.  Once the bulk is over, I begin to feel better.  Lunch time not only provides refueling, but a rest, and a relief in knowing that I’m making it through.

Throughout the day there are instructional, behavioral, and professional challenges.  Some days it’s truly overwhelming.  The critiques and demands from administration combined with the challenges each student brings, weigh on me.  I feel pressure to be the expert, the all-knowing guru of my profession.  I’m to know what and how to offer the most effective treatment and cure.  Some days, I do.  Some days I don’t.  Sometimes, I’m able to remind myself that I don’t have a magic wand. Occasionally, I’m able to remind myself that every one, adult and child, bring their unique circumstances with them that are out of my control.  I can only offer my best which is the result of my training, clinical observation, intuition, and human kindness.

Alas, the lessons are done.  Some were effective, others would welcome improvement.  End of the day paperwork is completed.  I pack up and head home.  Once I’m home it’s time to rest, maybe nap, if I’m lucky.  This is not for the lack of other chores and responsibilities that are calling me.  It’s that I simply cannot go any further without collapsing.  By this point in the day I’m ravishingly hungry, or hangry AND tired, which is the absolute worst combination.  Over the next hour, I snack and rest.  Run down the homework needs and play with the dog.  Talk about multi-tasking, and this is my rest!  Husband returns home to an exhausted wife that is a mere shell of the young woman he married.  He is tired and frustrated with the day and life just as I am.  We exchange our pleasantries.  I listen to his daily recap only when he truly answers, “How was your day?”  Most days he opts to not relive it or burden me.  Kids are shuttled to and from their activities.  Dinner is somehow prepared or purchased.  Workouts may or may not have occurred.

At some point, everyone is fed, showered, and fall into bed.  Everyone except for me.  My anxiety and depression peak again.  This isn’t to say that I haven’t had existential thoughts throughout the day.  They just peak in the morning and at a night.  I’m convinced that I will be a sun downer when I’m elderly.  At night, when the house is quiet, the day surfaces and I begin to process it and everything else I’ve had to push away just to keep going, to survive.  Thoughts of running checklists and tallying the day’s events race through.  Judgements are placed.  Memories surface, some recent memories, and some are memories that float up from childhood that give me better self-understanding.  Fears arise.  The what ifs bubble up. Sometimes I can pop them.  Other times, they stick and linger a little too long.   Thoughts then turn to the tomorrow.  I escape through “Friends” on Netflix.  I know it’s silly and lame, but it’s my go to feel good escape.  Eventually, I peel myself off of the couch and go to bed.  I say my prayers, and sleep for about 6.5 all to wake up and begin again.

I know I’m not special.  I know I’m truly blessed.  But I get the feeling that there’s a high volume of folks traveling through life just as I am, and just like me they are very uncomfortable with this passive existence.  I am not worried about water, food, or shelter.  No one in my family is sick, and my relationships lack any abuse.  I’ve learned that is what truly matters.  For these gifts, I am incredibly thankful.  I am grateful that my existential ramblings and wonderings are the greatest of my concerns.  I know it could be much worse.  I am blessed, searching, but still blessed.  Sure, my job/career provides a multitude of conveniences and without them I would have a lot more valid concerns to express rather than, “What do I want my life to be?”  The mere choice is a blessing.

Our parents’ generation did the grunt work for us.  They put in the hours and formed the unions so we could have a better life.  Perhaps, this better life is not wealth, but enlightenment.  Not that I am wealthy, but my needs are met, and now the focus is on my wants.  We were taught that we’d be happy if we checked all the boxes:  got good grades, played nicely, went to college, got a degree or two, and then got a ‘good job.’ I don’t think our parents had any idea that happiness went beyond their main objective to feed, clothe, and house their families without struggle.  That was the goal, and certainly remains.  Repeatedly, my parents would tell me that they didn’t want us to struggle as they did.  This was a financial struggle.  We were taught that happiness comes from survival and financial stability, and that everything else would fall into place as a result.  What I’m now trying to understand is how to truly achieve fulfillment and what role my career plays.

What I do know is that this is not working for me.  My hope is that someday it will pay off.  I attempt to channel patience and gratitude.  Often, I shamefully fail.  Every ounce of me is crying for a change.   I crave more time with my loved ones, and not just more time, but quality time.  I want to be able to welcome them home every day with a smile and a hug.  I want to discuss the ins and outs of their day.  I want to make them feel important, because they are.  I want to create joyful experiences that produce life long memories.  I don’t want to be remembered for yelling about shoes left out or clothes in the bathroom.   I want day-to-day routines and traditions that teach my children what really matters.  I know that 90% of all the stuff in our days doesn’t really matter, but my children don’t.  I want the time to love and nourish them, not just to shuttle them from one thing to the next.  Right now, I feel that I’m teaching them how to hurry, how to rush through life without noticing its gifts all around us.  I’m teaching them not to take time for love and affection.  I find it terribly unfortunate that although it may not matter, it is necessary when you’re in the race.  Right now, I’m teaching them how to race.   Now I wonder, against what or whom, and how do we stop?



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