Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mother's Day, One Week Later

On the Friday before Mother's Day I was frazzled and weepy, feeling overwhelmed by the tremendous piles on my plate. In case you don't know, teachers are ridiculously busy at this time if year: planning class trips, grad ceremonies, working on report cards, coaching sports and/or academic events, and it all happens outside of school hours. Add the pressure of the very high expectations that parents put on teachers, together with the pressure that teachers (typically lifelong high achievers) put on themselves and you have a recipe for burnout!

Expressing these feelings of stress does not always come easily to me. In fact, I often don't even register how spread out I am until I reach the edge, when it all comes out (usually at my husband) in an incoherent mess of bitching and/or whining. That never really has the intended results, does it?

So Friday was the day where I finally recognized my exhaustion, my spread-too-thin-ness, the toll that being in constant demand from my job and family was taking on me. It's hard to say that! I really want to do it all, and do it well. I want to be an awesome: mom, teacher, wife, blogger, homemaker, community volunteer, fitness inspiration...but I can't be awesome at it all. I am only one woman after all.

Then on Sunday my five loves brought me breakfast in bed, and left me alone to eat it while I read. They reassembled to shower me with gifts made from tissue paper and Popsicle sticks, then left me on my own again to create a card for my own mother. 

I don't need a day at a spa to replenish the well from which I draw love and patience. A bit of time alone, to indulge in my greatest personal joys (reading, knitting, napping, chocolate, and coffee) is all I require now and then to put on my big girl boots and get out there and into it once again. A bit of yard work and meals outside also did much for my mood. The pedicure was *ahem* very relaxing.

In case you're wondering why I'm posting this a week after Mother's Day, I did jump right back into it. I belatedly send my love and admiration to all you mothers out there who, in spite of stress, exhaustion, tight budgets, and no time to yourself keep taking care of business. You're amazing!! I'm amazing!! We're amazing, aren't we?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Dead Bird

Early one morning, my children found a dead bird on the lawn.

 I found them out on the porch, Birds of Ontario in their hands, working at identifying it. They wrapped it in leaves and placed it in a box, and before I had a chance to talk with them about it I saw them busy out on the hill. They were quite solemn about it all and later when I visited the site with the girls, I saw what they had created.

Carefully placed stones encircled the bird's final resting place, complete with a grave marker that reads: 

Name: Gorden 
Age: Adult
Dide of Window

Violet explained that the pony-hoof clippings were shaped like hearts.

Throughout the day, they visited the grave, even digging the bird back up to look at it closely once again. It was plain and grey, its thin lids covering its dull eyes, but it was beautiful in death all the same. They'd cover it back up, then run off to play again.

Margaret Wise Brown, in her inimitable way, wrote a story about a group of children who come across a dead bird lying in a field. They cradle it gently in their hands, find a box in which to bury it, cry and sing dirges, and create a beautiful grave for the fallen creature. They visit it every day, until they forget about it.

I found an old copy in a "discard" pile at a school library years ago, and have kept it all these years knowing that someday it would come in handy. I haven't read it to my children yet but mentioned it recently to my sister (who is a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant) in a conversation we had about the animal "funerals" we used to have as children. 

Children play to make sense of the ordinary and the profound. They conjure deep emotions in play, exploring what it feels like to love, hate, celebrate, and grieve in imaginary ways. I know that this bird will come up in conversation in the days to come, and that they may also mention their GG (their closest experience with death).

 I felt proud to see them treat the bird with such respect, compassion, and dignity.