Sunday, August 16, 2015

The New Normal- Part 2: Back to School

I went back to work this week. Thanks to the many folks who have checked in on me to see how it went. Here's a random assortment of thoughts from the week.

Let me start with a little bit of thanksgiving. I am thankful for Elaine Burleson, who got me in touch with Elizabeth Juline, a Hill Country parent, who has 14 years of experience keeping infants and toddlers in her home. Andy & I had already paid the deposit for a daycare center nearby, but when Elaine let us know that Elizabeth had availability, we were willing to call that arrangement off. Elizabeth is super sweet, and we liked her and her family right away. It's a blessing to have Story in a home with a nurturing care-taker, the only infant in the bunch. And it's kind of neat because I will be teaching Elizabeth's son Biology this year. So she has my girl and I have her boy. I think that's called "community."

I did a little practice round on Wednesday with Story. We got up at 6AM and did our little morning routine. Feeding, some snuggles, then down into the rock and play while Mom showers and gets dressed. I got her to Elizabeth at 7:45 and headed to Starbucks, where I slurped down a cappuccino and cranked out an entire semester of lesson plans for Biology. At 11:30, I was in the car, saying "Munchie, Munchie, Munchie," like a mantra as I maneuvered through traffic to get my girl.

Elizabeth sends me fun pictures like these throughout the day.

Thursday I officially reported for duty at Hill Country for the first day of in-service. I got choked up on the seven minute drive over to Elizabeth's. I prayed. I don't even know what I prayed, but I prayed. I think I just said, "This is hard," a lot.

Here's another place to be thankful. I love my job. Those of you who are a part of Hill Country might know this feeling well. Hill Country is on the move in the best of directions. It's really cool what I've seen God doing there in the past five years. That's a subject for another blog, but even then it would be hard to articulate. When I left Jack Britt right after getting married, I thought I'd be lucky to ever work at a school that operated so well, was filled with such great leadership and effective teachers. Now, I feel the same way about Hill Country but with the added bonus that it is a Christ-centered community. Like I said, a subject for another blog, but it gets me excited just thinking about it. ;)

So, it was hard leaving my sweet Story behind me, but it was beautiful to hug co-workers I haven't seen in months, fill up on breakfast foods provided by the PTF and join together in worship as Clayton Ring, worship leader for Hill Country Bible Church, assisted us in offering a sacrifice of praise to start the school year. While we sang, I kept thinking about Hannah from the Bible. I had listened to that story on my Bible over the summer. Her story is so incredible. All she wanted was a baby, and then when God gave her one, she brought him to the temple to be raised by Eli, the priest. This story moves me in a deeper way now. She took her most precious thing, and gave him to God. As I sang praises to the Lord Thursday morning, I thought, "well, I'm just going to have to do the same as Hannah." So I held both hands out, palms up, and in my heart, I gave Story to God. My most precious thing. Given over to the God whose love moves me into a community of students and educators, to do my part in giving love, even as I have received it. This is a posture to remember for life. Not a comfortable one at all, but, as it turns out, the very best one I could be in. It's the posture God chose for me before Story was born. I have to remember this when Mommy-guilt tugs at my brain. Some people might say that Hannah abandoned her son. But we know he was in the best place. He was Samuel, the priest God used to anoint King David. I want Story to know that our God is great. He is trustworthy and good. And He has a plan for our lives. He is worthy of my most precious thing. 

A couple of working-mom friends have encouraged me that one of the silver linings about going back to work is that it helps you stay focused on your kiddo when you are at home. I'm committed to this mind-set, and have already started following through. After a decade of spending 50-60 hours a week doing what teachers do, I am not just cutting back, I'm cutting completely off. Forty hours at work, and then I'm coming home to focus on my family. No compromises this year. I even wrote it in my syllabus. I've got some ideas about things I'm going to change in my classroom to make this happen, and if they're successful, I'll share them on here later for any other teacher-moms out there. We'll see how it goes! :)

Speaking of coming home and focusing on family, let me share just a couple of practical ways we're adjusting to the new back-to-school normal before I sign off.

Practical house-keeping change #1: I've been told multiple times this summer that when you have a new baby, you get a free pass on keeping your house clean. And there have definitely been days that I've let myself off the hook over the summer. But, with school starting back, it's important for me to establish some consistency in cleanliness, mainly because I have a mind that doesn't function in chaos. I'm that person who has to clean their space before they can work in it. So, Andy & I have started practicing what we're calling "power hour." Since I get to pick up Story before 4, I have about two hours with her before Andy gets home. We're hopefully going to use this time to just hang out together, play, maybe go for a walk when the weather cools off. But when Daddy gets home, he's going to take Story for an hour and I'm going to use that time to start dinner and clean something. We did this last week, and it was awesome. It's amazing how having just one hour to focus on the house keeps it from erupting. This is a big adjustment for me. I'm used to having hours on the weekend to get the house immaculately clean. Gone are those days. At first I was a little troubled by this. My response to taking care of things piece-meal was, "Oh no, my house will never all be clean at the same time again."  But the flip side of that is that it won't ever all be dirty at the same time either. And that's good enough for this new normal.

Practical house-keeping change #2: This weekend, I assembled a cleaning caddy. This idea was shared with us at our last Square One class. With only one hour (really, less than that when you consider that starting dinner is a part of power hour too), set aside for house maintenance each day, efficiency is going to be key. One of the "seasoned moms" from Square One shared some cleaning tips with us on our last day of class. She recommended a cleaning caddy that you can easily move from room to room, which will save time on going back and forth to under-the-sink to get what it is that you need. I loved the idea and bought the caddy and some cleaning essentials at HEB this weekend. I'm actually excited to start using it during power hour this week. Another thing she said that has motivated me in a sort of mind-blowing way... "If I can't hear my washer and dryer running, I'm already behind on laundry." Granted, she has two boys, so we're not quite there yet, but I'm thinking those are going to be words to live by as the new normal continues to evolve.

409, Lemon Soft-scrub, Pledge, Furniture Oil, Floor Cleaner, Magic Erasers, Clean Sponges, Lint Roller, Dusting rags

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great plan! So proud of you both! (Janet W.)