Friday, March 27, 2015

On Half and Whole Assing

Yesterday was a hard day for me at work.
I'm teaching more than usual and it has me worn thin.
I'm also sick, which is extra unpleasant when your job involves speaking aloud in front of people for a few hours a day.
Midterms just came and went, so I have students in my office. I have known one of these students for a long time, and this semester has proven to be especially challenging.  In spite of great effort, this student is not getting the kinds of grades we all want to see when we look down at that glaring white piece of paper in our laps.  This student sits in class every day and is often overwhelmed.  I am still humbled by this profession because I didn't recognize it.  I saw that look and thought it was boredom, disengagement.
We had a meeting yesterday about the grade, and there was sweat and tears, the words "I am just so upset" were said in a voice that I will never ever forget.  And I sat here and thought, "I can't fix this.". 
I saw it all unfolding and saw myself trying to be here for this student in the best way I could, while still feeling like I'd failed.  I tried to radiate compassion and understanding, and be clear that I will do whatever I can to help.
I just tried to hold the space between us in that moment.
Would you believe that I had this very article on holding space open as this conversation unfolded? One of the many tabs I open and breeze past in my short bursts of inattention at the computer screen between tasks.  It was sitting there all along, quietly waiting for me to notice.
If you have a moment, read it.  Try to hold space for yourself, and for me.
See, this meeting and this student, that feeling, it hasn't left. I can't get it to go away, or even really soften.
Because in that moment, I felt like I was half-assing my job.  If I had just had more time, more mental energy, I could have been there for this person the way that I should.
And the lovely flip-side of this work guilt is mom guilt.  The extra teaching I have been doing has required me to work at home sometimes, which is something I never do if I can avoid it, including during my break and on weekends. Including some of the time that I would normally spend soaking up moments with my two favorite people.  So, of course, I feel like I'm half-assing motherhood and wifehood.

Why can't I whole-ass anything? Everything?  Does anyone?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm always thinking about you.

 Some recent photos, for your time.  Sorry for repeats, instagram people. (I'm xoaliciarose, come say hi!)

Dough thief.
"This is Elsa's cowl."
A sunny living room is my happy place.
Just us.


Stacy Duffy said...

Boy, do I get how you feel. I feel this way all the time. I've felt like I wasn't doing enough when I was working outside of the home, and I still feel that way now that I am working raising my kids. I think there is a lot of pressure from society for us to "do it all", both for men and women. There is never enough time. When I feel spread thin, I like to remind myself of what is really important in life. What do I want people to remember me for after I'm gone? What lasting impact do I want to make in this world? I also need to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the ride that we call life. We only get one and it will be gone before we know it. It sounds to me like you could use a nice, quiet vacation.

Danelle Stamps said...

This. THIS. So much this. all of this. I am teaching 5 classes, taking one, and traveling too much (and not enough) and lambing and mothering and wifeing and I am holding space for everyone but myself.

So. What do I do? Book a weekend in MN for the AWP. Ha.

Alicia said...

Stacy, I needed your words about legacy. I have always been a naturally kind person, but that is the first to disappear when times are challenging. It sounds silly but sometimes I remind myself that I want to be a kind person and that helps me rediscover my bearings. It also truly helps to know that you are going through all this alongside me, if that makes any sense at all.

Danelle, you are the person who has even MORE irons in the fire that I do! We serve ourselves in the best way we know how, especially if that means pushing into discomfort. You're an inspiration for me in that front. That and all the purple hair and travel : ) <3

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