“Oh no!” Bub wailed yesterday morning when we stepped outside. It was raining steadily, relentlessly – not a mere shower but a driving November downpour. “Stop the rain, Mama!” he demanded. I know exactly how he feels.
Since the 24th of October I’ve graded 97 essays and 25 tests, a perfect storm of marking that has kept me occupied for nearly a month. This, of course, is entirely my fault. After seven years of scrambling each summer to apply for as much teaching as possible, I was suddenly offered more courses than I could possibly handle. I settled on the four I thought I could do with the least effort and inconvenience, and arranged day-care around my teaching schedule: I have the children in care all day Monday to Wednesday and Thursdays from 9-12. During that time I’m expected to complete a workload which, on paper at least, totals 48 hours/week.
In September and October, this schedule worked well. With little or no marking to be done, I found that I could balance all the important things in life: eating, sleeping, class preparation, teaching, playing with my children, talking to my husband, blogging, reading, and watching TV (Heroes on Mondays, House on Tuesdays, and Survivor on Thursdays – I even tried watching Bionic Woman on Wednesdays, but soon gave that up). Since October 24th, however, I have abandoned the following activities:
- reading the newspaper
- reading non-school-related books (except for 20 minutes of Harry Potter before bed each night)
- going to church (except for the mornings when I’m slated for nursery duty)
- going to small group Bible study
- talking with my husband
- watching TV
(I would add cooking, but I never did much of that to begin with.)
I have not, of course, given up blogging, a decision that has created – in my mind at least – the illusion that my “I don’t have time for anything” whining is all pure self-indulgence. Obviously I DO make time for things when I really want to. Not only have I continued blogging, but I have also gone out socially, not once but four times in the last month. Granted, two of those four occasions were get-togethers with friends I have not seen since August – not wholly obligatory outings, but necessary if I would like to actually have friends once all the marking is done.
All this gallivanting has made it difficult for me to say no to additional requests, despite the fact that I am working every evening until 11 pm just to keep up and sending my husband out with the kids every Saturday morning (making me wonder what, exactly, was the point of keeping them out of day-care on Fridays). Nevertheless, over the last week or so it’s become increasingly obvious that all my time is allocated. Even giving up blogging would not necessarily free up time to do the things people seem to expect me to do (unless those things can be accomplished: (a) while eating breakfast, (b) during my office hours at school, or (c) after 11 pm).
“I can do everything I have to do,” I complained to hubby this week. “I can drop Bub off at nursery school and pick him up; I can take the kids to the Little Gym; I can teach my classes and mark my essays. But I can’t do anything extra – and people keep wanting me to do things that are extra!”
- volunteer at the silent auction fundraiser this Saturday for the nursery school
- canvas local merchants for donations to the silent auction
- complete a phone interview for a study on toddlers’ sleep and behaviour problems
- meet with students outside of my normal office hours
- bring a healthy snack to the nursery school Tuesday and Thursday of this week
- attend a baby shower for the three women in my parenting-skills class whose babies are due in the next month
- cook and freeze three meals for the baby shower (each meal being suitable to feed four; dairy-free since one of the moms is lactose intolerant)
The other night, hubby answered the phone. It was someone from the church, wondering if I could bake something for the Stress-Free Holiday event this Saturday. “What exactly IS the Stress-Free Holiday?” I asked when he relayed this information to me.
“I don’t know,” he answered, “but I told her you’re not entertaining any further requests until after classes end in December.”