By Rachel Hogue
Today is a snow day. Except, there is no snow.
There is just cold rain, wet fences, and bored children driving me a little bonkers.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the day off, I’m enjoying my second cup of coffee in front of my fire and looking at the Valentine’s decorations that I should have taken down two weeks ago. I am thankful for the break in monotony. There is something peaceful about being forced to stay home. I am not missing any meetings; I didn’t have to come up with substitute plans for my classroom; and, although there are chores to be done, I will not feel bad about sitting on my couch and listening to the rain droplets that were supposed to be 1 to 3 inches of snow.
This is the kind of day where my heart and mind can relax and I can let my thoughts catch up to me. So here I sit, all patient and ready to reflect on my life and place in this world. But my thoughts aren’t catching up. My life evaluation has not begun. I’m beginning to panic a little. Oh! I bet I need to take some deep cleansing breaths. Here goes.
I am going to need a little extra effort out of my thoughts. I mean, I’ve carved out time for them. The X-Box can only pacify three competitive unruly boys for so long. Come on, I am ready to reflect and adjust my sails if needed, but all I can think about while I’m waiting for my thoughts to come is…nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I know! I’ll help my thoughts out…here are some open-ended questions to get the ball rolling. What is the meaning of life? Am I doing what I am truly called to do? Am I being the kind of mother that will not cost my boys thousands in therapy when they are 40? Am I the kind of teacher that creates a welcoming and warm environment to provide a respite for my student’s busy lives? Am I the kind of wife my husband needs and that I promised to be so many years ago? Do I make life’s journey a little easier for those I meet, or would I rather sit in front of the fire and reflect on my own journey?
Hey…wait a minute. I think my thoughts just caught up with me and punched me in the gut.
The truth is, sometimes I am 100 percent certain that I should be awarded Mother of the Year and sometimes I cuss in front of my children, clench my teeth while talking to them, and stomp my feet. Sometimes I have a room full of 28 teenagers who are all engaged (or pretending to be), participating in the lesson, doing the assignment, and sometimes I just want to sit behind my desk and pretend I don’t notice that they are playing solitaire instead of researching the nutritional benefits of fruits and veggies. Sometimes I am so in love with my husband, even after almost 19 years, and want to devote my life to only him, and sometimes I throw his socks in his drawer without even matching them because he left his shoes out. Sometimes, I am in a place of complete peace because I am doing what the creator intended for my life, and sometimes I am so restless that I want to sell all of my belongings and move to a hut on the beach or Alaska (even my restlessness has mood swings).
And you know what? It’s okay.
I have awesome days, mediocre days, and days that can go suck an egg. I am coming to the realization that I am not a complete failure when my kids have to eat noodles and butter for dinner because I didn’t make it to the grocery store, when my students would rather discuss the drama at break instead of heart healthy foods, and when my husband has mismatched socks because his shoes made me angry.
When I was in my 20s, I felt like everything I did had to be perfect. If my house wasn’t clean enough or if I wasn’t always patient and kind with my children, then I wasn’t giving them a happy childhood. If I didn’t spray their pillow with lavender and have a wonderful story time every night, they would be scarred for life. The truth is, sometimes I don’t have the energy nor the patience for story time. Sometimes all I can muster is a, “Go to bed, because I am now off duty.” Even though I pray with my children every morning before I drop them off, sometimes my “Dear God” is more of a “Dear God!!!!!” Even though I am not always a loving and sock-matching wife, I do thrill at the sight of my husband on date night; there is not another person in the world who can warm me up on cold nights like him. He is my best friend; he is my calm; he is my knight in shining armor (even with his messy tendencies). And although not every lesson I teach will be praised through the ages and written in books, I show up every day and love my students like my own.
Thank you, thoughts. On this non-snowy snow day I have realized that reflection might just be overrated. Although I am a firm believer in sail adjustment and life changes, sometimes it’s okay to just live. Sometimes all I have to do is sit on the couch, drink my coffee, enjoy the sounds of gunshots coming from the X-Box, and not reflect on my life or climb the mast to adjust the sails.
I wish for each of you a non-snowy snow day. May you discover that imperfection makes for an awesome adventure. May you not reflect on your life, but have another cup of coffee and revel in the absence of thought.