This has been a crazy-busy school year. when I make comments like that, people often respond "When aren't you busy" and they are right. There was a time when I prided myself on that chaos of busyness but not so much any more. I really wanted this to be the year I slowed down, stepped back. In small ways I guess I have. My responsibilities with the local Relay are much, much less. Rather than being a chair of the whole event as I have done for the past three years, I am this year just in charge of entertainment and activities. I found myself at peace with real fast but am still feeling out my boundaries as to where my input is needed or welcomed. Relay for Life is a microcosm of small town politics in these parts.
Jason has a heavy course load of college classes this semester as he works toward student teaching next. I promised to really step up the domestic goddess game so he could turn his full attention to schoolwork and not meals or household matters. I can definitely confess to not holding up my end of the bargain on that deal. Man, I wish I was just one of those people who liked to cook... but I. am. not.
Only teaching 10th grade English, although two levels, seemed that it would make for an "easier" year, at least as far as planning and prepping goes, but the classes, as they often are, are so uniquely different- each presenting their own set of
Benjamin is at the age that he is really making me feel the busyness that consumes my life. I just can't hold him enough. I cannot believe how fast four years flew by and I know with the blink of an eye that it took Cameron to become a young man, the next decade in Benjamin's life will fly by just as fast, especially if I continue to feel like my "pockets of time" for him just aren't enough. Maybe I am making myself sound like a bad mother. Maybe I am. I am sure though that many moms feel this way. We all work. We all have stuff. I just want less stuff and don't know how to make that happen just yet.
Key Club is... Key Club, the great consumption of my life. Last week was our "Key Club Week" so I am really feeling the timesuck it can be, for better or for worse. Kiwanis Family Month is November and Key Club, their high school branch, celebrates a Key Club Week internationally usually the first week in November. And, as usual, I ignored that one and crafted out own Key Club week the week before Thanksgiving Break. On Monday, we inducted 35 new members during a formal evening ceremony. We graduated out some great kids last year but thankfully I feel like we brought in some young dedicated, energetic ones that will respect and carry on the legacy of those before them. On Tuesday, the kids counted UNICEF collections afterschool and tallied about $1,200 in donations for The Eliminate Project, a Kiwanis initiative to end Maternal-Neonatal Tetanus worldwide. On Wednesday we had our traditional breakfast at a restaurant out in the community- little business, lots of fun. That afternoon the 350 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts sold were distributed, most in a 10 minute window of pure chaos before bus dismissal. Thursday was the night for our monthly Bingo at a local nursing home. And Friday, ohhh Friday- we hosted the Red Cross Blood Drive at the high school. Despite collecting 78 pints, it was a dramatic day with more students getting sick, hurt, and passing out than normal- including Cameron. Within a couple of hours of that event ending, the Key Clubbers and I were serving Thanksgiving Dinner and dancing the night away with our "friends" at Zuni Homes, a residential facility for intellectually-disabled adults. Since everything couldn't quite be squeezed in last week, volunteers also gathered up all the donated cans and boxes brought in during the Food Drive Key Club hosted last week. There were over 650 items, with at least a third to half being from the top two classes loaded with competitive club members. I even managed somewhere amidst that chaos to get all members "officially" registered with the international office and send dues in. AND (!!!) the pre-holiday mini-week ended with a letter from Key Club International announcing that our club has been awarded a $1468 grant for our "Kick the R Word" proposal (another full week of activities, but thankfully not until March).
I can't say I don't know what is keeping me busy because obviously I do... and even though that was a rarely beyond-the-norm-McHenry-chaos week... I need to strive towards some sort of balance - not ending my nights just falling into bed because I am to physically exhausted, or mentally drained, to do one. more. thing.
I cannot purge this ball of tightly wound stress though without coupling it with just how thankful I am to have this opportunity to work with the kids. I can tangibly feel the influence I have in their lives. I know that in 10, 20, 30 years they are going to look back on high school and most of their memories are going to be related to Key Club. I look at weeks like last week, and the cumulative goodness that came from it and am just amazed by it. By how such a "little" group can do so "much." Jason and I have started the conversation for maybe not living here forever more... maybe in a few, several, some, years moving to another area. There are many things about my job I love. I dread waking up in the morning but (once functional) I never dread going to work. Of all the perks, benefits, positives of school, my career, my life though, the one that makes it hardest to entertain any self other than the one I am now is walking away from this legacy I fostered into being. They renew my faith that there is good in the world every. single. day.
So yeah, I know, this post has meandered over all over its little space on the web, but like I said- I'm writing for me tonight, and these are the things that are on my mind. About this time last year I had my fill of people posting on Facebook what they were thankful for every.single.day. Regardless, I decided to do my own little practice of gratitude right here and reflect on what 30 things I was thankful for... and while I am still thrilled when my Diet Coke is carbonated just right or when I find myself delved into a good book, I am feeling gratitude mostly this Thanksgiving night for this group of kids that call me their mentor (actually more often "guru"- at my insistence), a gratitude so overwhelming that it leaves my teary-eyed and speechless to contemplate.
I have to, have-have-have to, find a way to channel that good and not let the rest of my life succumb to chaos in trade for it, or for the job I love.