The back story…
It’s been determined that the major source of stress in my life is my job and that it is keeping us from conceiving. Not okay! Time to make a change. I’m officially on a two month leave of absence from work. Unofficially I’m looking for a job. I don’t want to be out of work for two months, but I need a few weeks to regain my health.
What could be so bad you ask? I’ve gotten this question a lot. Okay, folks haven’t asked it directly, they’ve said things like, “Everyone is over worked these days!” or “Tell me about it!” and then glared at me like how dare I say such a thing! How hard could it be?
Let me say first and foremost, I’m not comparing myself to anyone else. The only thing I’m comparing my workload to is what is in my contract. My contract binds me to a workday that is seven hours and fifteen minutes.
Typically, teachers work way more than that, no complaints there, it’s part of the job. When I could work ten hours a day or an average of fifty to fifty five hours per week and feel like I did a good job and accomplished all that was set before me, I was happy. Things have changed!
This year, in order to accomplish the tasks that were set before me, I spent 10 hours per day at work. Not much of a change there. After going home and cooking dinner, I’d sit on the couch for another two hours grading or reviewing various essential documents such as individual education plans, or 504 plans which accommodate general education students with handicapping conditions like ADHD. This really isn’t a choice; I am bound by law to accommodate those plans in my instruction, planning, and assessment. Since these things are not optional and we weren’t given time to do them during our work day, after school, on my own time it had to be.
Again, it wouldn’t be bad if I were able to accomplish all the tasks set before me, however, I never finished! Despite all the work I was doing, I was constantly behind, new tasks were constantly being thrown at me. Whether it was a new grading program which was implemented with no training, data team meetings every week- for which I had to make sub plans, or the loss of our team time while still having to complete tasks that were previously designated to be accomplished during that time.
My body started to show signs of extreme stress. How bad could that be? By itself each sign is no big deal, but ask my husband what it is like to live with a woman who was dealing with everything in the list below, and he’ll tell you it’s not a whole lot of fun!
- Trouble sleeping, including inability to fall asleep and wake well rested
- A really cool twitch in my left eye
- Difficulty focusing
- Feeling exhausted all the time
- Perpetual hunger from my stomach producing extra acid in response to circumstances
- Mid cycle bleeding
- Delayed ovulation
- Low hormone levels
In short, the effects of stress negated all of the treatment I was receiving from my NaProTechnology doctor! Not to mention that I virtually had no life outside of work! We used to entertain friends on the weekends, or I’d spend hours in my craft room, or I’d decorate the house for the particular season we were in. Not this year, I had time for none of it.
Then, it hit, the event that held the mirror up to my face and made me see how ugly this had all gotten. A dear friend of mine lost everything in a fire. Thank God she wasn’t home at the time, but she and her husband lost all of their possessions, as well as their beloved fur babies.
When I heard about her devastation, I immediately wanted to do anything I could to help; not that I could restore what she had lost, but I wanted to do something to show her I cared and that she was not alone. I spent a Saturday afternoon cooking her food and bringing it to her, it was one small gesture that I know she and her husband appreciated. The following week we had her over for dinner, again these are small gestures that say you’re not alone. They’re things that I know she would do for me and which made me feel that in some way I was helping her heal from the trauma.
The back lash from these small gestures was monumental. I spent all day on Sunday doing school work to make up for what I hadn’t done on Saturday. And during the week that she came over for dinner, I fell way behind at work. Obviously my job had taken over my life, but there wasn’t any way I could cut back. There just isn’t such a thing as a part time teacher in our district, nor is there any way I could spend less time on my work and still make sure that all of my students’ needs were met.