This morning, I did not expect NOT to go to work. I mean, it was a figuratively balmy 8 degrees at 6:00 when I awoke, and the temperature was only going to climb as the day progressed. In no way would calling school be justified again. The Polar Vortex was done ravaging us with wind chills in the -40s; it was time to get back to normality.
However, at 6:13, a friend texted me, “No school again ?!?”
I thought he was joking. I had not received the call, and this friend of mine, he can be somewhat of a jokester. However, I walked out of the bathroom, and wouldn’t you know it, the phone rang one-minute later. Today, school was cancelled because the majority of the busses wouldn’t start, and they could not, of course, allow the little dumplings stand in the frigid air while the few busses that did work tried to manage all of the routes.
The first thing that went through my mind was a song I used to love in the 90’s. My mind could hear the riff of the guitar as the words played in my mind:
For three strange days
I had no obligations
My mind was a blur
I did not know what to do.
And then I lost myself
I, for the life of me could not remember anymore of the song. I could not even remember who sang it. Thank God for Google and the world-wide web. I vaguely remembered the band School of Fish and when I looked up the lyrics, I found that they were actually really depressing.
For me, these have been three strange days, but unlike the lead singer, I have not lost my motivation. On the contrary, I have relished in the gift of freedom that snow days bestow.
A gift, you scoff! What about all the other days off?
Don’t you think, dear reader, I know you are dubious of the complexities of my job. You see it as a cake walk: three days at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, Spring Break, and then nine weeks in the summer! But, what you do not understand is the paradox of teaching: we work our asses off for 187 days a year because we need for the students to excel and be better at whatever subjects we teach, and in order to do that, we need days off to regroup, reevaluate lessons, and recharge our batteries.
Everyone feels burnout, you say. Well, I do not disagree, but please, try to be a teacher for even a year, and you might think a little less critically of our chosen calling.
Now, I do not mean to put you on the defensive or make you angry. I love my job and I am grateful for the time off that school districts give students and teachers to restore their enthusiasm and yearning to learn. Likewise, I was grateful for our winter break. I crossed many items off of my list. I shopped, cooked, entertained, visited, cleaned, worked out, graded some papers (not as many as I should have, I will admit), and relaxed with my family. It was the perfect break.
Oh, but then the Polar Vortex hit, and three magical free days were conjured in the universe. Free Days. I did not plan on these days. I did not have a schedule of chores that needed to be accomplished. I did not have any set list of items that needed attention because these days were not planned, and thus, they were a gift.
For three strange days I had no obligations….
With no obligation comes the ability to just exist. I kind of zenned out in my own little existential experiment. I realized that nothing had to be done, so I decided what should be done was anything that I wanted to get done. Do you understand the enormity of this gift for a 44 year-old, full-time working mother of three?
So what did I do?
- I read The Fault in Our Stars cover-to-cover. I would recommend it because it is incredibly well written, but blubbering for forty or more pages makes it a hard book to recommend. Okay, screw it. I cried but I also laughed. You should read it! It’s that good!
- I worked out twice! I never find time to workout during the week, or is it that I find a million other things to do besides working out during the week? Well, whichever way, the endorphins made me feel strong.
- I played countless games of Life with the girls. I won more than once. I always pick the college track, and I think they are starting to realize that long-term earnings increase exponentially with a college education.
- I slept. One can NEVER sleep enough, in my opinion.
- I cooked delicious meals.
- I blogged.
It was a glorious, unencumbered three days, and it was almost better than any planned vacation.
If only I could give the gift to each of you readers so you can understand how having three strange days can seem like the perfect motivation to get done some of the things you never seem to find time to do.