You are brave enough to call in sick?

I joke that I wake up every morning and take my “suck it up” pill before grabbing my children and heading out the door to teach. I’ve got a 30-45 minute drive (depending on weather) and three preps (Spanish 1-3).

Monday-Friday I’m at school from 7:30-3:15 (when I pick up my children). On Mondays and Wednesdays I have to swing by a drive-thru in order to get my kids fed and my daughter to her 4:00-5:30 dance lessons. On Tuesdays my husband meets me at the restaurant where I work. He takes the kids home while I work a 4:00-8:30 waitress shift.

Thursdays and Fridays (if I’m lucky) we don’t have anything extra planned.

This weekend, I decided I was going to get caught up on grading, do some lesson planning, and watch a few hours of the Comprehensible Online PD course to catch up where I’ve fallen behind. If I was lucky, I could squeeze in some work on Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest.

But things didn’t go exactly as planned. Turns out, Saturday was the last day to register my kids for Spring soccer. That used up nearly 2 hours of my Saturday (mostly driving time). Then the restaurant called and was desperate for me to come in because so many of our staff members were written off with doctor’s excuses. And that was my Saturday evening.

Sunday after church, I had just enough time to eat lunch before driving to watch my high school’s musical. I had promised my students I would attend and my daughter was looking forward to going with me. I didn’t realize it was a three-hour-long production (plus the 60-70 minute drive time).

I got home after 6pm. So much for my weekend. Panic started to set in as I remembered everything I had to do:
-Enter grades for assignments.
-Complete PD sessions.
-Friday had been the deadline to order an elementary school yearbook (so I frantically searched to find one of the 50 reminders the school had sent home–no luck. But I was able to search online and find the company and put in a late order).
-Co-sign paperwork for my husband’s college loans.
-Feed and take care of my kids’ rabbits.
On, and on, and on.

By 10:00 I was shaking. HOW could I do everything? HOW was I going to get my kids to soccer practice starting next week with everything else going on? HOW would I be able to cope with soccer games every Saturday in addition to everything else going on?

Byt 10:05 I was a mess. I experienced a panic attack. The built up stress from the weeks of working two jobs + creating products for TPT + social media posts + blog posts + my kids’ activities + the normal everyday tasks that need to be completed.

I told myself I needed to calm down and go to sleep. I had to be up by 6:30 (at the latest) and out the door by 7:00 the next day. I couldn’t take a day off. My desk was a mess (my #1 excuse for never taking a day off). But I couldn’t force myself to sleep. Nothing worked. I tossed. I turned. The last time I remember glancing at the clock it was after 12:30am.

Then I remember the alarm. 6:15 Time to get up. Time to “suck it up” and go. Time to get my shower, grab my children, and make the 30 minute drive. Time to exhaust myself in front of six classes. Then pick up my kids. McDonald’s (probably) for dinner and make it to dance class by 4:00. Keep my almost 6-year-old occupied while my daughter practiced for 90 minutes. Then back home to prep for the next day.

Then I heard the question: “Are you BRAVE enough to take a day off?” What? My desk was a mess. I always tell myself that me on my worst day is better than a non-Spanish speaking sub on his/her best day. But is that true? The question wasn’t “Are you able to work?” Clearly, I wasn’t, but I’ve been here before and I’ve pushed through and kept going. But today, was I brave enough to take a sick day?

Was I brave enough to admit that I needed a day to rest? A mental health day? Was I brave enough to be judged for my messy desk by a substitute teacher?

Today, I was brave. At 6:16 I logged on to my account and requested a substitute. By 6:20 a substitute had been found to cover my classes for the day. By 6:25 I was back in bed. A little after 4pm I woke up. Hungry. Drained. And in disbelief.

How could I let myself get to this point again?

And more importantly, how can I take steps to make sure I don’t work myself into a mental breakdown again? And again? And again?

The truth is, I don’t know.

This isn’t a happy post. Or a post about professional development opportunities. Or all the wonderful things my students are doing in class.

This post is much more real and much more painful. This post is brutally honest. This is the post of a stress-out teacher trying to work to make ends meet. Trying to giver her students the very best education. And trying to be a perfect wife and mother.

If this sounds like you, take the advice I usually can’t: take the day off. Take the sick day. Take a personal day. Rest. Replenish. And re-evaluate.

Hoping and praying for a better tomorrow,

Profe Pistole

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