I could feel it coming. I was dealing with the umpteenth question that prove to me another one just was not listening. I am repeating myself over and over and over. It gets tiring. And I feel frustrated. Usually I hold it in quite well, but today I didn't. I told myself period 1, don't let one bad thing ruin the whole day. I turned my chair around and I let it go.
Or so I thought. Then the next period came and more questions proving they aren't listening. More teenage angst where they question my authority, my ability or fill in the blank. Usually I take that stuff in stride. It is teenagers being teenagers. That is what they do.
Then I looked at a picture. I saw them. The three of them. And I wondered is it worth it. I mean I know it is. I know financially it is such a blessing for my family to be stable. We didn't/haven't had that luxury for a long time. And now we do. I know it is needed. But I miss out on another show and tell. I miss out on another field trip. I have to hear second hand how their days go.
There is a price to that. And usually I am okay with the working mother dues. But today I wasn't. Those bad days I am not. I pay the toll again to have students not listen, blow me off or refuse to take what I am offering. And I do have to question why?
The why isn't in "why don't you quit?" Because I wouldn't even consider that. The why isn't in "why do you put up with it?" Most of the time that is what I teach them. I teach them to challenge me. To challenge their own way of thinking. The why is more in the fact that why did I let this bother me today.
So in that 2nd period with students I struggled. I tried to get through. I could feel it welling up and welling up. It was tears, it was anxiety and it was the flight need. I wanted to bolt. I was going into all out anxiety attack. In period one, I held back tears and tried to keep it in. Period 2 with kids and I wasn't about to let it out.
I turned back and pretended to open the door to my cabinet. And I tried to shove it all in there. Even if I was just shoving empty space and hoping maybe the movement and the time would allow me to swallow my anxiety hard.
I choked it down. I didn't want to lose my power. If there is one thing I have learned those moments cannot be exposed to students. I don't mind them seeing me upset or sad. But vunerable and even hurt by some of their actions, no. It creates power struggles.
I don't mind giving the power, but in my years experience that power has to be shifted in the right moments and this was NOT one of them. I didn't want them to see my doubt. I didn't want them to understand my frustration. I didn't want them to know I was about done in. Instead, I "typed" my email. I tried to have conversations with students that I knew would bring on happiness and want a little less from me emotionally.
And it finally passed. Then I could say, "Listen you guys, I am feeling very disrespected today and cranky because of it." That is the power I assert they have. They have the power to choose their reaction to me, just like I have the power to choose my reaction to them. When I react in those throat throbbing anxiety filled moments I gain nothing but steps back in my classroom management.
Is my time worth it? Is my effort worth it? I love my job, but never more than my family. I miss the small moments. The ones that I am so used to being a part of. I have been there for them for 11 years. 11 years my whole schedule revolved around them. I am in a year into the working mom thing and I have to say it is so hard.
I see the things I don't have time for, to care about or to even consider doing and I let that determine how I feel about myself. I have so many people quick to point out where I make mistakes or where I didn't do what they thought I should. I see it in my job and I see it in my personal life. And I just want to say, "I am trying."
But what I should say is "I broke." I grew tired of the anxiety so I shut down just for a day or two. Or I broke and needed a quiet day in Mrs. Eichenauer's room. Or I broke and I am sorry. But in my experience none of that works. Working moms are supposed to work harder and if they can't do it all they certainly should not be complaining. They chose this life.
And let me be clear I did and I would again. But I spend that vast majority of my life giving others what they need with hardly any time nor attention paid to what I need. And today I guess I just needed a break. And when I didn't respond to your email, I guess I needed another break. And when I tried to start a text conversation about sad stuff going on, I needed another.
I can no longer use the excuse I am a graduate student or I am trying to get the hang of this working mom thing. Instead, I am just gonna use the excuse I broke; then I did it again and again.