Looked through the rental apartment ads today, thought I might just want a room of my own for a few months while the student apartments are available, since I can’t find breathing room at home, and it looks like the planned purchase of a larger home is again unlikely. The two places I go to get away are my bathroom, which isn’t much of a retreat, since someone is always wanting to use it, or my greenhouse. I put a patio recliner in there, and it’s nice in the mornings and evenings and on rainy days. No one looks for me there–just enough opacity to obscure the interior view.
I also bought a stand up paddle board, which I hope to take out, once I master the tie down. The two mornings I spent running around the local lake this week fed that desire to launch something I could dip, dip and swing, and maybe try out my new wet suit with a swim. I feel shy about that, like the way I felt when I wanted to start biking around my college town, feeling like maybe I didn’t look like a “real” cyclist. Insecurities never die completely, but I plan to fake it ’till I make it, yaw!
You might think I’m hard hearted, and not a very good mom because of this tendency to creep away. I am hard hearted, at least as much as I have managed to be–one step beyond making an appointment with grief. Now I put it on hold until I forget which line it was and the light stops flashing. And I have not made myself indispensable; they can all get along without me just fine, and in emergencies it’s better to have just one parent on hand–my husband works from home and can be roused by a serious yell. Plus when I’m not puttering around, there’s more freedom for them to cook with white flour and snack on graham crackers, leave mugs on the hearth, lights on, apple cuttings on the counter. If a kid needs something signed or a drive somewhere, they can holler and I’ll probably come out of hiding. No sense of loneliness or need for a human connection arises where the internet is a swipe away.
A student told me today I sure don’t get my feelings hurt easily. This was after a less than subtle criticism by another student of what I had to offer that day. I told them I could be induced to get offended at the end of a long day, once I got home. No, all those comments, criticisms and suggestions for improvement are water off a duck’s back in my professional life. Or, rather, something to consider and learn from, while taking with a grain of salt. I thank them for putting it all out there, iron sharpening iron and all that. I make it my goal to teach in a way that those comments come less and less and are replaced more and more by wonder, interest, engagement, but since it’s only my first year back, and this school is uniquely challenging, I can be patient with myself and try to work on a few things at a time. I’m not expecting these students all to be models of diplomacy or always to have a clear view of the higher ground anyway, so I take much of it with a grain of sea salt. But I want to be handled with care at home, though everyone else is tired, too, I suppose. I’m trying to remember that, and sad that I don’t have more to give, wondering if it might be best to cut down on work hours so I can keep my cup a little fuller to pour out at home. The challenge of modern life, eh?
When I was wiping the stove I struck my head on the corner of the metal vent hood, and by the eruption of emotion in response to the pain, realized it’s not so easy to hold it all in. But still feeling that my sadness would be misunderstood, I sneaked back out to the greenhouse and let down in my chaise there.. Time to add a box of tissues to the decor, and see if those new hammocks can be strung up in a place this size. At least until the tomatoes and peppers are in.