Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Things I've Done Differently

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.


  1. All of these things are so exciting! I'm really happy for you! of course I'd like to be happy for you because adoption is moving forward, but these are all such exciting steps. I remember you mentioning that you played violin but I didn't make a connection to fiddle tunes. I love fiddle music and I stepdance, so it's so cool to imagine you performing and all the kids dancing around you. Maybe soon I'll write a post about what I'm doing on than TTC crappiness. It will be a shorter post than yours but it's good to make the point that one goal should not utterly rule one's life.

  2. Oh my gosh-good for you for agreeing to be in the fall production!!! NO WAY do I have enough coordination to play, walk backwards, AND freaking smile! Holy crap does that just sound like the trifecta of terrifying to me. So proud of you for doing it and practicing every night. I think if I were practicing in front of my hubby and he randomly yelled out "smile" I would burst into laughter and unable to concentrate!

  3. I laughed out loud from the mental image of Bryce spontaneously yelling "SMILE!" while you are practicing. Mischievous grin and all. I also have the resting bitch face. Maybe this is a cure?

    I am glad to hear you are taking steps to overcome the feeling of life being on hold. It's hard to do when in this period of waiting, but I think it is necessary. Im glad you are embracing this.

    May the mentoring be a fun and fruitful experience, the school play a wonderful and memorable one, the trip to Vermont beautiful and relaxing, the one off sinfully good. And bless you for the snakes. Though I'm not terrified, snakes and I have an understanding (particularly the vipers): I'll leave alone if you leave me alone.

  4. Yay! So many good things here. :) Sounds like you have plans in place and you are acting on them to take back your life from the limbo state while reaching a pretty comfortable compromise. Various levels of risk, but worth the benefit. I also laughed when picturing Bryce cueing you to smile while practicing the violin at home for the play. Break a leg!!

  5. Oh wow I can understand your discomfiture but I LOVE A Christmas Carol and especially Fezziwig's party! The brain challenge sounds beserk but I reckon you'll be ace! I always get out my old DVD in Christmas week (the 1984 one) along with Bad Santa of course for a bit of contrast.

    I'm chuffed that you have booked your Christmas trip too

  6. That's great, I love all the changes, and good for you for going outside your comfort zone! I laughed when you mentioned your resting bitch and angry face when you play music! Keep practicing and you'll be great I'm sure. Also great that you'll have your Christmas at Vermont trip to look forward to now. This week I've also been doing some things that I couldn't do with a baby, like deciding to go to a fancy dress halloween party at a club :)

  7. Yes! I think that doing all of these things is going to do wonders for your sanity while you are still in a waiting period. Good for you!

  8. I also laughed out loud at the idea of being told to "smile!" whilst playing. I know when I play the piano, if I'm concentrating hard that I stick my tongue out just a little. Next time I play, I'm going to try throwing in the occasional smile to see how hard it is! lol

    I was going to exclaim at the lack of parental leave available. Labour laws in the US seem to be so draconian. But was pleased to see that you can feel your personal days can be used as precisely that next year.

  9. Those are great changes!! Being in limbo is the worst. I think it's a great strategy to do things you want to do. If an adoption opportunity comes up, you'll make it work! Also, I hope you take a personal day or two just for fun.