I returned to work this week, something I’ve been feeling less than great about. I’ve been feeling bugged and bummed because I didn’t get the summer I’d hoped for–something I normally would admit to no one but a fellow teacher (or my mother).
I know that no one other than an educator (or my mother) would sympathize or understand how I could be feeling anything but grateful to have had such a lengthy break from work and a good job to return to. Nonetheless, bugged, bummed and less than great is exactly how I’ve been feeling.
explained whined to my parents in an email earlier this week, the last five or so summers have just been one kind of hard or another. None has been the rejuvenating break I’d hoped for. Each has left me feeling more wiped out than revved up and ready to go for another school year. I’m tired.
But, as I ruminated about all of this (as I’m so often wont to do), it occurred to me that perhaps it is not summer (or my life) that is the problem, but my stance toward it. My expectations. It occurred to me that perhaps the summers that live in my memory are not exactly true representations of summers past.
In my memory, summer has been a time of long days filled with slow hours. Leisurely mornings and afternoons filled with time to read books, cook real meals, complete projects, sleep. That’s not what my summers have been looking like these past few years. Yes, books have been read, meals have been cooked, projects have been completed, and naps have been taken–but the pace has not felt slow or leisurely, and there have not been enough books, meals, projects, or naps. Not enough for me to feel filled up and rested, anyway.
But I started to wonder if those summers I think I remember were ever really that way. Or, even if they were, if it’s just unrealistic to expect that they will be at this stage of my life. I’ve got two teen-agers, a romantic partner (who comes with a daughter), parents, extended family, and friends. Almost everything that’s filled my summer days has been someone/something I love having in my life or something in service to someone/something I love.
Yes, I’m tired. But I’m also really frickin’ fortunate. I’m tired because my life is so full of so many good things (along with the usual mundane/irritating/difficult things that we all have). And what I’ve realized, as I returned to work this week and the prospect of even fewer books, meals, projects, and naps, is how futile it is to think I can somehow squeeze all the things I really love/want into the two fleeting months that is summer break.
I realized that in my way, I’m not so different from those people who live their lives waiting for someday. Someday, when I get a really good job/my kids are in school/my kids are grown/I can move/I can retire/, then I’ll really be able to live the way I want to.
I’ve just been doing it on a shorter scale: In June, I’ll be able to… .
Problem is, that kind of stance is just as problematic for me as it is for anyone else who thinks life will be perfect if they can only get to this one thing. Life is still going to happen–and life always has lots of what we don’t want.
Today, I’m grateful for my job not only because it’s good work that provides so many things I want/need, but also because returning to it has helped me see that I need to keep working at making changes in my life that will help me be healthy and feel good all year round. I don’t want to live my life feeling that only one season of every year is really good time for me–and then feeling discouraged and disappointed when it doesn’t live up to my hopes and expectations.
I’m grateful for the reminder that most of the time, it’s not our situation that needs to change for us to be happier. It is ourselves.
Yep, it was a hard summer in some ways. Lots of change and transition and unwelcome challenges and not as much time to rest and recuperate from the school year as I’d like. But there were some sweet moments in there, too–many of which I’ve already shared through this blog:
There were hard days, and probably hard moments in every day, but it was a good summer. A good life. I’m grateful for all of it–and for return to doing good work with good people I’ve missed during these weeks away.
I’m grateful that the coming months are not ones I’m hoping to simply endure until I can get to the good times again–and for the ways in which returning to work has been catalyst for the change within I needed to be able to feel that way.