I’m not going to lie…

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI’m not going to lie*. Part of me is dreading the beginning of the school year. A big part. I’ve been ignoring it a bit, but the feeling creeps up behind me when I least expect it–kind of like a rogue wave crashing down on you when your back is turned toward the ocean. You’re enjoying the feel on the sun on your shoulders, blissing out on the mellow day, when….WHAM! That realization strikes: School starts in just a few weeks.

As that date looms ever nearer, I know that it’s the mornings I will miss the most, these carefree summer mornings. I love to get up early and enjoy my coffee, catch up on e-mails and Facebook, write, and, if the mood strikes, go for a run. I hang out on the back porch. I take pictures. I don’t look at the clock.  I’m just not ready to lose these slow-paced mornings when each day unfolds at its own glorious pace. I know how they will change once school starts: I can feel it in my bones.

And yet, a significant part of me is excited to get back to school. I love working with my students and my colleagues. I love the excitement of learning and growing together. I just am not looking forward to the relentlessness of the pace. I don’t want to spend every day working, or feeling like I should be working. I don’t want to start each day rushing, feeling like I’m already behind.

Part of me hesitated to share this post, because I feel like I’m a “bad” teacher for feeling this way–like if I were truly passionate and committed, I would only feel excited about the approaching year. I’d be brimming with ideas and enthusiasms. Honestly, I do have those feelings as well. I know that once I’m in my classroom and getting to know my students, I’m going to be happy to be there. I do have new ideas and things I can’t wait to share with my class. But I also am feeling very protective of my personal life and of the ways I nurture myself and enjoy time with family and friends. The intensity of teaching allows for so little of that.

This is my tenth year teaching. Before I started, I knew that balancing home and school would be very challenging. I’d heard about the time demands and stress, I knew my own nature, and I recognized already that this would be a difficult balancing act for me. It was then, and it still is now.

There’s a teacher I know who used to work on Friday night straight through. I mean straight through. She worked until she was tired, slept a while and then continued to work until sometime Saturday morning when she left. Apparently, this was her solution to the problem of work spilling into her weekend. Due to changes in the school’s alarm system, she can no longer do this, and I’m not sure what her current approach is, but isn’t it crazy that part of me sees this as a viable solution?  My own solution has been to wake up ever earlier as the year proceeds (and the work piles up) so that I have some down time each morning before I start working. But waking up at 4:30 or even 4:15 perpetuates a vicious cycle. If I’m up that early, and don’t get home til 5:30 or so, I have no extra energy to work at home during the evening.  If I don’t work in the evening, I feel like I need to fit in a fair chunk of work in the morning. See how that works? I’m starting to feel like I’m in a Laura Numeroff book! So, instead of just complaining about it, how do I change this? I don’t have an answer, but, believe me, I’m thinking a lot about it!

So,  yeah, I’m feeling that “August is the Sunday night of the Summer for Teachers” thing. I’m not gonna lie.


*A week or two ago, Linda Mitchell hosted Poetry Friday Roundup and offered a wonderful array of starting lines for people to use in poems. This one has stuck with me and I’m using it to begin this slice instead. Thanks, Linda!

12 thoughts on “I’m not going to lie…

  1. margaretsmn says:

    I love how you used the first line to process through your feelings about the ending of summer. I’ve had a rough start and spent most of the day Sunday playing catch up. At some point, I packed it all back into my backpack and decided that it was enough. We have to do that for ourselves. This teaching life is a challenge. Balance is my goal. Thanks for being honest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Margaret. From your own post, it sounds like you’ve found a way to center yourself amidst all the changes and challenges. Hopefully that will be the fulcrum that helps you find that balance. Here’s to achieving balance!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jcareyreads says:

    I still have 6 more weeks because I’m still on maternity leave, but I can totally relate. You captured the feeling that I’m sure more teachers than you realize, go through. I’ve always thought of summer as a gift. From this piece, I can tell that you feel the same way. It’s part of what keeps us going during the hard times. As for the teacher who worked straight through… more power to her!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski says:

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been feeling much the same way. I listened to a podcast (Truth for Teachers by Angela Watson) and was comforted by her approach- that’s it’s ok to mourn what we are losing when summer ends. She said while those feelings are normal, we can try to remind ourselves of all the good work we get to do in the year ahead. I think we have to be real with each other. Sometimes online, you get the feeling that teachers always need to feel thrilled about our work but the truth is it can be very challenging at times. A big part of it is how much is expected of us and how our lives can feel so out of balance during the year. Summer rights the ship, but then we are thrown back into the water full force, and the cycle continues. I wish I had answers for how to make a teaching life more manageable but I don’t. I can say your post resonated deeply with me and I’m grateful you wrote it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mbhmaine says:

      Kathleen, thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and to write this thoughtful response. I’m going to check out that podcast and meanwhile, I’ll take comfort in the fact that we’re all in this together. Wishing you a rewarding and balanced year!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Adrienne says:

    You nailed the feeling we all have. I love my job, but I also love those mornings that you described so perfectly. I don’t think non-teachers really understand the pace of our days (go, go, go from the moment students walk through the door) or the after hours work (like the mountain of essays I get in middle school) .

    Enjoy this swan song of summer and have a great 2017-18 school year!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the honesty of your feelings as the school year begins. Many of us teachers feel this way or have felt this way. For me, it was the kindred spirits at school who made the school year rock. It didn’t happen every year. These kindred spirits can be few and far between, but they are there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Dan, I remember you emphasizing in class how important it was to have a life outside of school. That really stuck with me! Luckily, I do have great colleagues and we laugh and learn a lot together.


  6. I don’t think that there is any professional – be it teacher, doctor, mechanic, or um.. marketing/fund raising professional (blushing) that doesn’t feel a sense of dread, whether it happens once a year or once a day. Teachers have the most demanding jobs and it would be strange if you were doing backflips at the prospect of 13 hour days or longer at the horizon. The fact that you feel so guilty about it says that you are dedicated and you care, and that is a lot more than can be said for many teachers or other professionals whose work is caring for others in some way. It’s hard work. And beside, your guilt makes for really great writing! Upshot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Those marketing/fund raising professionals are the best! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, and for noting that silver lining–All experiences are fodder for writing!


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