Okay, so I feel like I've been a little down lately. When most of your comments start with "I'm so sorry," you sort of realize that you need a little positivity injection. It's been a rough month of just cumulated grief and frustration at our stagnant state, but I do actually have some sunshiny moments.
I decided to do several things differently this school year.
Last year, I said no to a bunch of things and halted some opportunities because...WHAT IF? And then the year went by and absolutely nothing happened. I narrowed my life for no tangible reason. I mean, there was hope that something would change, which fueled this sense of CLEAR MY SCHEDULE!, but nothing did, which just left me feeling irritated and let down.
Over the summer I agreed to be a mentor teacher. I hadn't even applied before, because I've spent my whole full time teaching career getting ready for a mythical maternity leave, and I thought it was kind of unfair to sign up and then be like, "Seeya!" at some arbitrary moment. BUT, I said yes this year. Because the worst case scenario is they have to assign someone else midyear, but that involves the best case scenario of us becoming parents, so there's that. And I usually help out new teachers anyway, so I may as well do it officially and get paid for it.
I changed the book that I shared for my "Important Book" modeling that I do in my Reading class (stolen shamelessly from Cris Tovani's work). Before, I did The Dream of the Little Elephant, which is a 1970s gem of a picture book involving a little elephant in a land where he doesn't belong, and his journey to find his home. I have read it for years, and it has been a hopeful book that I thought would be good to read to our little Mystery Baby. This year, I JUST COULDN'T DO IT AGAIN. I still love the book, but it is emotionally draining. And so I switched it out with a book I loved in elementary school, Diary of a Snake-Lover, about a little boy who is an amateur herpetologist. I love snakes. I loved this book. I found a copy at a used bookstore in Maine through the power of the internet, and so now I have my own copy again. And I can share my weird love of snakes with my students, instead of my desperation to have a child to read to. Better, right?
Here's a big one. I said yes to a commitment that is WAY out of my comfort zone. I got a text from a friend who is the director of the middle school fall drama production. "We need a fiddler...would you do it?" It's for A Christmas Carol, and I said yes to being the fiddler at the party at Fezziwig's. And then I realized what that would entail...rehearsals and originally thinking I'd be way in the background and then finding out I'm totally center stage up by the curtain for the scene with all the kids around me clapping and dancing... Plus I had to pick out some music to memorize and play. Which I did -- I found a book of sheet music for English, Irish, and Scottish jigs, reels, and hornpipes. Because I can't do it and have it be inaccurate, right? So I have three pieces with decent repeats that are all appropriate for the time and location. Nerd. But then after my first rehearsal, I discovered that I need to be able to PLAY, SMILE, and WALK BACKWARDS at the same time. That is quite the brain exercise... So I am practicing every night while Bryce yells "SMILE!" at random moments. I think I have the walking and playing thing down. Seriously, I have to practice smiling because my normal playing face is set to "Resting Bitch." I look downright ANGRY when I play. And, usually when I screw up, I swear like a sailor, which I obviously cannot do even in rehearsal full of middle schoolers. Oh, the pressure. It's going to be fun, and November is going to be crazy since I should really go to a fair number of rehearsals so I can make sure my smiling/walking backwards/playing memorized jigs holds up on a stage with bright lights and prop obstacles. It's good to do things that scare you, right? It will be a blast and a great story later. It's just a little terrifying right now.
I am trying to convince myself that I can use a personal day. I lost them all last year, because my adoption leave is 5 paid days and then I can add my three personal days onto that for a whopping 8 days of paid leave for caring for a newborn, so I didn't want to use up my personal days for anything else. Well, they didn't get used for any reason. And while I don't typically use more than one anyway, because they roll over to sick, and you need a LOT of sick days when you have a baby, it stung that I lost the opportunity to use one. SO. This January is the start of the New York Paid Family Leave Act, and unlike the current maternity leave setup, I QUALIFY for this one. So, the closer we get to January, the less I feel like I have to hoard my personal days. So at least I have that option, even if I never use it. I don't have to feel like they were allocated to something that may not happen this year.
And then, there's Christmas. We totally booked our Vermont vacation. We will be in our adorable tiny valley town in southern Vermont for the holiday, and it will be glorious. I am going to do my best to not notice the families we've seen in the past who have grown older, and instead revel in all the things we can do because we do not have a baby yet. And we will try not to freak out about the expense, and feel relief in the fact that there is cell phone coverage in Vermont and we could come home if something came through last minute. So it's a cautiously-spontaneous vacation, but I'm okay with that. It will be fun and relaxing and romantic and a little splurge-y, and have minimal risk. Win.
So, there are a few things that have changed in the 8 weeks I've been back to school, tiny ways that I'm trying to live my life despite the on-hold feeling that waiting brings. Positive changes, a few little risks, but all things that help me to feel a little less frustrated in this state of limbo that is straight up driving me crazy.