I should be grading right now, but I can’t, I just can’t, y’all. The words all sound like gibberish and they don’t make any sense. I don’t know if it’s because I’m DONE and burned out or if these essays, really just don’t make sense. Probably a combination of both.
And it’s more complicated than my time constraints when it comes to choosing not to grade very thoroughly. I actually CARE about my students, like most teachers, so I can’t mail it in. I have to grade these essays, make some sense of them, and try to help these students.
As a mother, I know that my daughter brings me more joy than anyone or thing ever has. When I walk in the door after work and her face lights up, well, there isn’t anything better. But she has also made me more tired than anyone, ever. I assume that phrase bone-tired originated from a parent. My students are similar. A lively classroom discussion energizes me, but a million questions about information I’ve already explained, drains the energy right out of me.
My nephew, who is full of energy, would refer to his tank of gas, and how many gallons he had left for the day. He was very specific: “I have 17 gallons left.” Teaching and mothering is a constant filling up and depleting of my fuel, and I never know what the day will bring. I might think I’ve got a full tank, but I’m on empty by 9 AM.
I’m sure most jobs are like this.
But the stakes are high and personal when it comes to teaching. We know all our students by the end of the semester. We begin to know their hopes and dreams. We have students who can’t succeed because they don’t have a foundation of basic knowledge, and we try to find a way to help them, but it’s almost impossible because they can barely read. We have students who don’t know how to interact with their peers. We have students who are discovering their sexuality for the first time. We have students who can’t afford next semester or are being deployed to Africa in two weeks.
Teaching and mothering are jobs that require you to leave it all, every day. What I mean by that is there isn’t room for halfway, not really. For instance, on the way to work this morning I thought about how I wanted an easy day. I was going to keep things laid back, maybe even let them out early. But then I got into the classroom, and someone didn’t understand interlibrary loan, and someone else had an idea about comparing and contrasting The Misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” with Perry Smith in In Cold Blood, and we were off and running, learning.
For me, and those who love to teach, half-assing isn’t really an option. And it’s the same way I feel about mothering. You don’t shortchange your kid. You just don’t. You do everything you can, for your students and your kids, because they are all somebody’s kid.
So I’ll be up late tonight, grading papers, like a lot of teachers. I’ll put Mae to bed, hoping she stays asleep, so I can help another person’s daughter learn how to developing an argument or just write one beautiful sentence.
Keep up the good and hard work, teacher mamas. #tellamom #tellateacher