Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the Sharp Edge of a Nervous Breakdown

(Warning: Garden variety whining to follow. Stop now if you are, categorically, anti-whining.)

This past Tuesday, I thought I might lose my mind. I think it was a culmination of the following events:

Thursday evening: Family Read-Aloud Night at school
Friday evening: Gingerbread building night for 4-H (building GB houses for the elderly to enjoy)
Saturday morning: Gingerbread decorating activity for 4-H (at a house packed with kids and candy)
Saturday afternoon: 4-H arts and crafts activity (more kids, more candy)
Saturday evening: Lighted Boat Parade (we were on a boat which was cool but also cold)
Sunday midday: Birthday party
Sunday afternoon: work meeting about curriculum
Monday: (normal day of work and kids)

then there was Tuesday:

6:30 Up, getting ready, making breakfast and lunches (with Hubby's help)
8:15 Walk kids to school
8:30 Home to make stew for crockpot (dinner)
9:15 Back to kids' school to volunteer in each class
11:00 Arrive at work to hurriedly make copies for class
11:30-1:30 Teach composition
1:30-2:30 Office Hour
3:00 Pick up Girl to take her to dance class
3:30-4:30 Stand in a room full of about 35 kids to help them pick out and put on dance costumes
4:30 escape to go get tea
4:50-5:45 Sit in my car outside of dance studio grading paper drafts
5:45-6:30 Try to get clear instructions (over the voices of crazy dancing kids) about dance rehearsals for the next week
7:00 Arrive home and beg Hubby to put stew in bowls because that small action might actually cause me to implode.
7:30-11:30 Grade drafts of research papers

I think the effect was an accumulation of stimuli that I was storing in my body and mind like some kind of electrical charge. All of that high-energy kid stuff, without time to get release or even get my work done*, made me ready to send out some voltage.

But then, late afternoon on Wednesday, after a day of teaching, I had time to tidy my office and take care of loose ends, and I felt MUCH better. Today, I even managed to enjoy a full day of activities (parade, dance rehearsal, festival), and I feel fine.

Still, this time of year, it's very hard for me to understand how everything will get done--the finals, the grading, the activities, the shopping, the trips to the P.O., the packing for out-of-town trips--and sometimes I feel like I am hyperventilating. But tomorrow, I will get to see my daughter dress up like a rat, and we'll put up a small tree**. And next week, I'll have a lot of quiet time as I grade papers and finals***, and I will find a couple hours to shop, and it will all be OKAY.

Now, if I could just think of something to get my husband for Christmas . . .

*Although I am SOOOO glad that I sometimes have flexibility to do these kinds of things--volunteer, take my daughter to dance--this flexibility often means I feel guilty when I don't do these things even though I do have a full time job. So then I stay up late or work weekends or just make myself crazy during a particular given day.
**We're going on a trip, so we won't get a big, real tree this year.
***Is it sad that my work time is what I look forward to as "me time"?


baxie said...

I have a theory that kid hours are like dog years- every hour spent with children counts as, like, 5 'normal' hours.

feMOMhist said...

i came to love my 2 hour round trip commute and my sole "me" time, so no!

loveskidlit said...

GEW: I feel ya; I think we lead parallel lives. We also do the volunteer thing, and feel both grateful that we can, and stressed out and overworked because of it!

One small change that helped me get through a day: I now make the kids' school lunches while they are doing homework after school. They go into the cold bags in the fridge and we just grab them in the morning. A small thing, but seriously helps keep me from the brink!

Good luck. The festive season can't go on forever!!

Anonymous said...

Happy fucken end of the semester! *heavy sigh* I still have finals to grade. And if one more stu emails me about their fucken point totals or tries to turn in an assignment due weeks ago, I will ram my red pen between their ears. AHHHHHH. My next invention will be a dust that I throw at people to make them disappear. It will be made out of chalk pieces, dry erase particles, and pencil eraser remains.

If I'm still standing by the end of the week, Happy Holidays.
Exhausted Unicorn who's also Packing Unicorn

Ink said...

"Arrive home and beg Hubby to put stew in bowls because that small action might actually cause me to implode."

Best description ever.

I have no doubt that you'll get it all done and it will rock. But hugs for the stress and overloaded feeling!

Ink said...

ps: Unicorn, right on--what is it with trying to everything late? I'm exhausted from finding ways to kindly explain um, NO.

Ink Again (sigh) said...

Er..."trying to DO everything late"

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I'm in an I-hate-everything mood right now, despite having a generally good 24 hours. I think I'm just in that end-of-the-year funk, but yeah, it frequently feels like the brink. With you right now. :-/

The Steel Magnolia said...

Yes, yes, yes to all of that! Yes, it always feels to me like the rest of life needs to stop until I submit my grades for the term. Then I go to have a massage. And sadly, yes, I also feel like a few hours carved out for grading or planning feel like time alone in my head and with myself. And, yes, the push-pull of flexible work time means that I shove the rest of my life into what would otherwise be work time. But the massage, and a latte, have proven to be life-saving.

Good Enough Woman said...

Baxie, I think that theory might be well founded. Consider the evidence: five hours of playing littlest pet shop.

feMOM, I'm loving time in the car these days because I'm listening to a book on CD. I only have 15 minutes each way, but they are awesome.

LKL, What do you put in the lunches? We REALLY need to move past ham and cheese and PBJ.

unicorn, I will buy that dust when you invent it! Yesterday, 20 minutes before research papers were due, two students wanted to talk to me to get help with said papers. I try to be a helpful teacher, but, you know, it's a 10-page paper due in 20 minutes and we've had 18 weeks together. I'm sorta done.

Ink, Thank for hugs. We will survive! And, really, it's easier than digging ditches.

Fie, I'm glad to be in good company (but not in a misery, schaudenfreude way).

Steel, Again, more good company! I think I might be able to put a latte on deck for some afternoon grading today. And a massage--now there is a good idea! My neck and shoulder are starting to do their bi-annual knotting and seizing from all of the speedy and desperate grading.