Day 41: Friday afternoon was, to put it mildly, disconcerting. My homeroom partner covered the end of the day for me, so I’d managed to get out of Boston by 3:30 pm. However, after about 15 minutes of driving, I noticed that I was seeing triple. Mind you, I was driving about 75 miles per hour at the time. I tried to shake it off, and couldn’t.
It took me about 20 minutes to wise up and realize I had no business driving. I got off the Mass Pike at the first rest stop, let my mom know I wouldn’t be making it home when I said I would, and promptly fell asleep in my car. 30 minutes later, when the alarm went off, I hit the snooze button. Finally, 45 minutes after falling asleep, I bought myself a coffee, a chocolate milkshake and some fries, and hit the road again. Caffeinated, on a sugar high and driving at speeds that would have made my mother cringe, I made it to my hometown with four minutes to spare before the train to NYC.
So, what prompted the stupidly exhausted teacher to think it was a bright idea to drive 200 miles on Friday afternoon? Simple: My family. Something I struggle with often – and I’m guessing others do as well – is that during the week, teaching is my everything. I get to work, I leave work, I lesson plan, and if I remember, I eat at some point. Maybe I go on an underwhelming date at some point.
My family has always been important to me. But since I’ve become a teacher, having my family as a safe and comforting presence has been crucial. They are the ones who assure me I’m doing a good job (even when I’m not), who congratulate me (when I’m actually doing a good job), and who generally make me feel like I’m not in this alone.
Back to the story. I missed the family trip to the Met, but made it into NYC in time for dinner. The next day, my mom, my dad and I went to watch my younger brother (a senior at Skidmore) swim against Vassar. He won four out of four events! We came back down to our home in the cold, but hey, at least the dogs were there. My parents took me out for a belated birthday dinner, we went home, slept in the powerless cold, woke up, had brunch, and I was on my way.
This whole time, I felt wonderful. We didn’t even have power, and my house was freezing, and I didn’t even care. I’m in this great place in my relationship with my parents where they still take care of me the way they always have, but they also respect me as an adult. I get a lot of family time, but rarely time with just my parents, and it was great to talk about everything – teaching, summer plans, relationships, Thanksgiving. I had literally stepped into another world. Even though I was grading papers in the car the whole weekend, I wasn’t really a teacher. I was away from it all.
I consider myself so lucky to have my family. And this weekend was a critical reminder that my life is so much more than my teaching. Good teachers can’t wear blinders. They have to have something, and preferably several somethings outside the classroom that keep them sane and happy. I’ve got a few, but none as important as my family, and I know I will go to school tomorrow prepared to be a better teacher for having recharged with the people who matter the most to me.