No More Left to Give

I was supposed to play with the praise band at church this morning (like I do every Sunday), but I just called and told them I couldn't do it. That I'd be at church, but that there was no way I could make it the hour early to practice with the others. That I hoped they could do without the piano today.

I'm just exhausted. Completely exhausted. Really. This morning when I woke up, I felt as if I were made of lead. Maybe I'm in one of my bipolar lows, but I don't think so. I think this is just plain, normal physical and mental exhaustion.

Part of it is relief. I guess I had become accustomed to the stress of living out of a bag for two and a half months. When I first started teaching at this school, I felt like I was in a chronic state of panic because I had nowhere to lay my head, nowhere to place my stuff, no privacy, no little space to do my work. It's like I could never just stop and just breathe. I adopted the big conference table in the foyer as my "landing strip" for a while, but it became the spot for displaying science projects. It didn't do to plan lessons among bug collections and scale models of cells, so I moved.

For the last month, I've been doing my lesson plans at student desks in other teachers' classrooms.

If I try to do work at a coffee shop or at home, I have to carry everything with me: all the books, all the essays, the big three-ring planning binder, the red pens, the calculator, the liquid paper, the grade book, the assignment, the grading rubric, etc., etc., etc. Inadvertently I always end up forgetting something, so I'm running back to my car to find what fell out of the big bag I carry.

Or, I'll get to school to learn that I've left something of vital importance--my grade book, or the science tests the kids are supposed to take in an hour--at home. So it's back into the car for the 30-minute drive back home, with hopes that I'll make it back to school before second period.

Part of the problem, too, is that I'm naturally a very scatterbrained, unorganized person. All of this is in addition to the fact that my house is a wreck and I can never find my keys.

It has been very stressful, but I feel like I've become accustomed to it. I've almost become accustomed to the fact that sometimes I'll be so harried that I'll forget to assign homework or hand back homework. By the time sixth and seventh periods roll around, I'm edgy and irritated--NOT a typical way for me to be. And I think my classes suffer from my stress level, and from the fact that my school life is in a constant state of uncertain suspension.

So when I saw my classroom yesterday--that huge classroom, the largest in the school, big enough for a bunch of desks, two lab tables, and loads of storage--something in me just shut down. It didn't happen immediately; part of me still couldn't believe this classroom was really mine. But then, that tightly wound sense of stress that's kept me going just snapped sometime last night, and told me, "OK. You can relax now."

So this morning my body felt like lead. It still feels like lead, though I've managed to get a shower and start getting ready for church. I hope I have the energy this afternoon to write a science test, grade a bunch of essays, and finish moving in to the new classroom. It would be nice to have a weekend in which I could rest, though. Because I don't have much left to offer to anyone right now.

Maybe next week I'll be back on track.


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