Epiphany of the Many Hats

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If you know me in real life, you know that I am completely devoted to my son.  When his school isn’t communicating or his teachers seem ineffective and uninformed, it makes me crazy.  Last year, was a great year.  I would have done ANYTHING to have his second grade teacher move to third grade; unfortunately, despite the begging and bribes, she didn’t move.

First grade was a disaster and unfortunately, we are experiencing another year of torture now in third grade.  I know it sounds dramatic, but it is the best way to describe the lack of communication, the lack of empathy, the lack of relationship, the lack of strategies, the lack of what I know good teachers do to help kids succeed and parents feel comfortable.

Unlike the great years, the challenging years move at a snail’s pace.  We ask questions, with little answers  We provide research, with little response or acknowledgment. We advocate, and talk to whoever might influence the key players; when all else fails, we hold our breath and mark the days off the calendar like prisoners in solitary confinement.

It is an eerie feeling to be part of the same institution that causes my son so much stress.  It feels like a betrayal. It feels like my loyalty is shifting.  Some days, this shift is so strong that I feel like I am walking through the day, wearing a teacher costume.  The costume covers my heart, the heart of a parent.  I begin to ask myself more often if I am caring, supporting and educating other people’s children at the expense of my own.

In addition to my career, I write in the evenings and the weekends.  I am sending submissions and more opportunities are presenting themselves to me.  I am putting myself out there in ways that I never have before in order to make things happen.  Writing has given me a creative outlet, a voice, to share and it seems that some people want to hear it.  I receive thank you emails from parents that are searching for answers; the appreciation is so strong, that it seems as though I have thrown them a life-preserver as they bobbed without direction in the open sea alone.

Instead of battling the teenagers at Starbucks this afternoon, I went to the empty neighborhood spot.  I sat there waiting for my afternoon pick me up and I had an epiphany!  No wonder I am frustrated, exhausted, confused and overwhelmed.  I am trying really hard to do many jobs really well.

My teaching.  My writing.  My parenting.  My research.  My relationships.

All of these jobs require a significant amount of giving of myself.  All of these jobs provide joy and satisfaction, but none of these jobs can be done with only partial attention.

How will I do it?  Does it take better time management?  Prioritizing?  Do I need a more detailed “to do” lists or does something have to give?

Dear readers…I know that I am not alone so how do you do it?

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8 thoughts on “Epiphany of the Many Hats

  1. So your son’s 1st and 3rd grade years sound like my son’s 2nd grade … I thought I might come undone by the end of that year. I have never felt more broken and torn up than watching my son struggle through that. Having said that, it ended up being a source of strength for him later. When he’s been faced with a tough challenge, we’ve talked about “surviving Mrs. P.” If he made it through that year without breaking, then nothing’s going to make him crumble.

  2. I am sure you have heard this many times before – you cannot give of yourself if you have nothing left to give. You must be able to maintain yourself for the long term. You need a certain amount of time to yourself…for yourself. In order to give true happiness to others…you must be truly happy.

    Releasing stress cannot be deep enough without the physical component. Although this is absolutely essential in males…I think that it would apply to females also. After a good 1 hour of rigorous exercise (after building up to it over time), a stretch, and a warm shower…everything is put into perspective, and the small irritating things in life die in your mind.

    I have found nothing more relaxing, nothing which had promoted such a level of deep restorative sleep than doing this just before bed. I would wake up feeling fully rested…and hungry :) When you don’t eat before bed after exercising, your body burns excess fats in the night, and the raised metabolic rate continues to burn calories all day long…besides quickening the passage of food in the intestines. The mind is quickened…and a deep calmness stays with you. All feelings of frustration are used as fuel for your workout…which allows you to exercise harder…which improves all of the positive aspects in your life…including creativity. You will have a deeper well from which you may draw greater amounts of energy…and may more easily tolerate frustration. With a mind clear of the small frustrations and irritants in life…the larger central issues take on their importance. Correct prioritization of the important things in life will become self apparent.

    Exercise is also a great moderator of moods and a great stimulator of minds in children. Through it, your son will find his way in life…and he will fully enjoy it.

    Is exercise the great answer? No

    What it does is to build a foundation of far greater energy, greater tolerance for the negative, a great enhancer of the positive in life, and it allows for greater recuperation (in the form of far deeper sleep…and daily stress reduction). It is only through full recuperation do you become stronger…and without which, you feel worn out and overwhelmed.

    Quality exercise allows you to look at life from a position of calmness and strength. Through it, you then realize what is most important to you in life…and you may then find your own great answers in accordance with them.

    I cannot stress this enough…through the stimulation of the physical…you greatly enhance the emotional and the intellectual (including creativity).

    You will soon feel as if you were a god walking among mere mortals.

    The only difficulty in life you will then find is trying to remain humble.
    And, yes…as you can tell from my writing…I am still struggling with that :)

  3. I wish I knew. I am joining a SENG Model Parent Group in a few weeks for a 10 week session. I am hoping that will help and not just send me searching for something else. Last year was awful in K but we pulled her out and she is in a great Montessori school now that meets her needs but she fights having to do work. It is getting better but I am not looking forward to 1st grade with a new teacher.

    • I totally understand. Our experience has been a very painful transition each time that we switch teachers/grades.

      As a teacher, I understand the difficulty of the job; however, some don’t understand that a kid like mine needs a relationship with his teacher. This is critical. If the relationship is there, he will work incredibly hard and do things for her that he wouldn’t do otherwise.

  4. An unfortunately common condition, particularly for those of us of care about and write about such an all-consuming subject: parenting (with a dose of education). My boys are now 11 and 14, and allowing me the luxury of more time. Well, not exactly, but at least I can talk to them and rationalize with them that I have things that are important to me, that I want to get done. I help them, they help me. Everyone feels invested in each other’s success, which is really cool.

    This, however, did not come without a price: my giving up on much of my personal development when they were in their elementary school years. At the same juncture you are at now I was trying to balance parenting, writing, volunteering (PTA, coaching, etc), and managing freelance clients. Oh yeah, and a marriage.

    None were turning out well, so I started shedding responsibilities as the opportunities to exit came about without leaving various people high and dry.

    Eventually it was down to kids, clients, wife, and writing only periodically (scheduled once every two weeks).

    Gradually I gained control of my life, and my sanity, and with that incredible worlds of opportunity began to open up — in due time, which typically corresponded with the boys getting older (the first going into middle school) — opportunities I never would have been able to handle, let alone recognize as opportunities, if I had continued at the breakneck pace I had been on previously.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your insights!

      I agree that the only way that I am going to gain control, gain balance, is to shed responsibilities. This is hard for someone like me, but it is proving to be necessary.

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