I’ve Been Slacking

I used to be a workaholic, but then I had a baby.  I am desperately trying to juggle all of the separate factions of my life. I’m working harder than I ever have before, and I still feel like the biggest slacker in the universe.  It’s a “too many irons in the fire” syndrome.  I’m doing a lot of things, but I don’t feel like I’m doing any of them particularly well (the best I can, of course, but never quite good enough).

I only get to see my son for an average of 3 hours a day.  I leave for work before he wakes up. I don’t get to pick him up until 4:30, and he goes to bed at 8.  I make the most of the time I have with him, but I never feel like it’s enough.  I feel like I’m missing out on major things.  I didn’t know he could do the hand motions to “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” until I saw him do it by chance a few days ago.  I reinforce what he does at day care,but someone else is teaching him.  I rationalize by reminding myself there are millions of children in daycare all over the world, that we have chose carefully, that my husband works in the same building, and that he is a bright, independent little boy who seems to be thriving (as far as I can tell) in that environment.  I still feel guilty.

I don’t put the prep work into my lessons that I used to.  I love my job and I truly believe that my students deserve the best education I can offer them, which requires a lot of preparation.  I have to consider various intelligence levels, learning styles, interests, and language abilities.  I have to grade one quiz and one test a week for 120 students (and I teach Literature, so it’s not like they’re multiple choice), call the parents of those who are failing, meet with those who have behavioral issues, and do whatever my principal asks (which included planning the prom, explaining PSSA and SAT questions, and creating and grading the Senior Projects).  An hour and a half a day is simply not enough time.  I used to work from home, but by the time the baby’s in bed and the house has been tidied, I’m exhausted and can’t quite come up with a new and exciting project about Chaucer.  I “stole” one from the Internet and adapted it to my students to the best of my ability to my students and felt incredibly guilty.

I juggle playing with the baby and tiding the house until my husband gets home , but I never feel like I get enough done.  I can fold some laundry, do some dishes, vacuum the livingroom, or make dinner, but I can’t do them all in an hour or two and watch the baby.  I use Sesame Street more than I should.  Domestication is not my strong suit, and my working hours have added to the struggle.  A little boy adds to the mess and the distraction (and the exhaustion) .  I do what I can and feel guilty about not getting to the rest.

I write when I need an outlet.  Unfortunately, I’ve only found the time once a week or so since school started, but I plan on taking a little more time for myself during the summer.  I’ve been a little self-centered.  I haven’t given enough attention to the war in Iraq, gas prices, and the war.  I’ve stuck to what’s easy – opinions on religion, philosophy, and science.  I feel like I’ve gotten rusty and complacent.  I’ve been slacking.  I should sleep less, drink more coffee, and write more (after my son is in bed, the housework is done, I’ve finished my lesson planning for the year, and I’ve had an actual conversation with my husband).


5 Responses to “I’ve Been Slacking”

  1. June 24, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    RE: the Chaucer project. Speaking as a former educator, and the son of two very good educators, never feel bad about taking what is good from other people and adapting it to your needs. We don’t need to re invent the wheel.

  2. 2 AQ
    June 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Welcome to the world of the working mother. You are now qualified to juggle.

    I hope that doesn’t sound smug. I have 4 children so I know what you are experiencing.

    If it’s any consolation, you will eventually find a rhythm. And your son will be able to participate in some of the household stuff and have conversation so that you will be spending time together and getting things done at the same time.

    I would like to gently remind you, though, that before you had your son, you wondered why more people didn’t get involved in political action, i.e. take time to march, write, call, pay attention to all the details of the government leadership, etc.

    I think you now have your answer.

    Although, I have always agreed with you that people are way too complacent about such things….

    And Exmi has an excellent point. Using good resources is nothing to feel guilty about.

  3. June 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I think you should accept the word of EXMI. I taught for forty years at almost all different levels of education, and no one should be embarrassed or ashamed of using good teaching materials from any source at all. (Of course if one should write a book about it, sources must be identified. Over the years, the best teachers I have know have drawn from any available source and have often been pleased to see their best work carried on by others.

  4. 4 unitedwelay1
    June 30, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Exmi, etc…
    As a young tacher I was the one putting resources on the Internet for others to use, so I gues it is my turn to be using them, but my passion is teaching, and I always feel I should use my own work. I fel like the personal details I put into a lesson are important to my students, and I guess they still get that when I use an Internet lesson as a shell and add to it. I think the guilt mostly comes from not putting the time and energy into it that I used to. I really appriciate having other teachers tell me that it’s not that big of a deal!

    It doesn’t sound smug, and I’m glad to see you! I should amend my previous beliefs to state that people who have the time should get involved in political action. I am doing some things this summer, and tend to do a few things throughout the school year, but of noticed,and course, not as much as I used to. What I have noticed, and will write about later, is that what I do on the local level often translates to the state level, especially where education is concerned. The support of women who have been working mothers or are currently the walking dead is very appriciated and often underestimated. Working moms with young children tend to be isolated because so much revolves around the home and the park.

  5. 5 unitedwelay1
    June 30, 2008 at 8:48 am

    R. Johnson,
    I know, it’s just frustrating sometimes. A week’s worth of lessons takes between 5 and 8 hours to plan. My students have varying abilities with reading levels between 2nd and 11th grades. I have to write each lesson in such a way that anyone would understand it and know exactly what I am asking them to do if they have read the selection. That can be exhausting. Plus, our company requires that we have 3 grades per student per week, which is easy if you teach math, but when you teach a writing course and literature, that’s A LOT of grading.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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