I'm on break. I mean really--a break. Unpaid, but I'll take it anyway. 2 weeks and 2 days of my time (well there is a work bag full of work to complete before I return, but you get the idea). I have enjoyed it. Enjoyed it so much that the work bag full of work sits here staring at me and I merely laugh as I choose to write this instead of grading/planning/organizing that!.
Josh has commented that he is quite happy with the results when I have time on my hands. And I am, too. I laugh more. Plan more. Surprise more. Relax more. It's different this year. The kids are content to go play tennis with their friends while mom goes to the mall for the last few Christmas items. Josh is happy to feed the dog and the chickens while I stay in bed. I am actually relaxing.
But there is a downside. It won't last. And for the most part I am good at not even beginning to think about that dark dark thought. But sometimes, when I am enjoying my time the most!, I realize that it won't last. It's already almost half over. There will come a time when that work bag will seem insurmountable and a time when I begin to dread the next day as one day closer to the end of this blissful utopia.
Yet, for the present, I can shove that aside and believe that this is what I was meant to do. Be a mother and a wife and a best friend and a human being without restraint of a work day schedule.
And then the guilt weighs down. I have an amazing job--how many people can touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of children throughout their career and actually see the results? I bumped into an acquaintance the other day and he drove that point home--even though that wasn't his intent. He mentioned that it was unusual for me to be at my children's school winter assembly and had I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it immensely, I replied, it even brought tears to my eyes because it is such a rare occurrence to be a part of my own offspring's schooling. He then threw the knife directly at my heart--well then it must be terrible to have to work.
But it's not. As much as I enjoy this down time, as much as I love being home when the kids are (even though they really don't need me and are often off with their own lives while I sit at home) I am so blessed to work in a field that has little extrinsic (paycheck) and much intrinsic (knowledge that I am an important adult in the life of a child) value. How many people get that? How many people recognize the dichotomy of wanting never to return because it's too hard and wanting to return immediately because one wonders what is happening in the lives of the students they are on break from?
It's an odd feeling. And one only bestowed upon those of us lucky enough to be in a financial situation that allows us to choose an intrinsically rewarding job in lieu of an extrinsically rewarding one. I am tired, I want nothing more than to sleep for the next 3 months. I also wonder on a moment by moment basis whether or not my students are remembering what I taught them, are having fun, are eating, are warm, are moving away before I get a chance to say goodbye...
I look forward to sleeping in tomorrow just as much as I look forward to returning to work in 12 days.
It's definitely winter break.