Friday, February 12, 2016

Me and Marmee

I am teaching Little Women to a small group of 9th grade boys, which sounds a little weird, but I suspect they are enjoying the book more than they thought they might (and probably relate to it more than they expected).

In the first section of our reading, Marmee explains to Jo that she is angry nearly every day of her life and has to work very hard to manage this feeling.  Upon reading this, both the first and second time, I  wondered what Marmee had to be angry about.  Even when I discussed this passage with my students, nothing really smacked me with understanding.  I mean, I got that she is a woman and struggles under the limitations of her gender given the time of the novel, but I didn't feel it.

Until these past two weeks during which I, myself, have felt very angry.

Marmee is probably angry that her husband felt compelled to participate in the war and left her and the girls to find himself or act for social justice or soothe his conscience.  Maybe she resents a system where she doesn't get to do what inspires her soul?  Maybe there are things she would want to do but she can't because she is a woman and a mother?  Maybe she is mad at herself because even if she had the opportunity to do something, she might not act on it because she is a mother and would feel like she was neglecting her children and family?

I am not angry AT anyone.  I think I am angry at life, at the nature and structure of things, at the complications I didn't consider when I made decisions (like the slug of having to drive N to the middle school.  Three years didn't feel like a long time to do this until I'd spent half a year doing it.)

So what am I angry about?

I'm angry that it is SO EFFING HARD for a woman to find part-time work (not 30 hours a week part-time, either.  Like 15 hours a week during her kids' school hours) that uses her skills and intelligence and still allows her to live a life that doesn't feel hurried and rushed and overwhelmed.  I'm angry at the system.

I'm angry that because of my mom brain, or because of being a SAHM for so long, or because I am a ridonkulous control freak, I feel like I have to manage everything.  Why is it so hard to just turn it over to someone else and accept help without feeling like I'm shirking my duty as a mom?

I'm angry that I can't just be perfectly content shopping or staying inside my house and cleaning or doing laundry or cooking wholesome meals for my family.  I'm angry that I feel like I need more because wanting and doing more complicates everything.

Even though this is not my "someone hand me a perfect 1-2 morning a week scenario," I am going to apply to be a substitute teacher at my kids' schools.  I plan to sub one day a week.  Word has it I have to sub 5 days a month to stay on the preferred list.  I am nervous about the whole process because I've never been a sub before.

Every time I am at the boys' elementary school, and I see someone whom I know is not a certified teacher subbing, I think to myself, "Why am I NOT DOING THAT?"  I know I am a good teacher, and I know I would make a good substitute.  This is what I trained to do.

I love teaching at the cottage school, but that is one day a week.  Writing for the magazines takes maybe, and I'm stretching here, 5 hours a month.  That leaves a WHOLE lot of time for me to not do something productive.

With that being said, the idea of subbing at my daughter's middle school feels scary.  I haven't worked with public middle schoolers in over a decade.  My amygdala is yelling at me, "They are going to eat you alive," while my pre-frontal cortex says, "B*tch, please."  (I try to remember that I thought all of my homeschooled students were going to be more brilliant than me, and that has yet to materialize.  They are bright, but not smarter than their teacher.  Experience does count for a lot.)

And then there are the.....complications.  The picking N up from school if I sub at the elementary school.  Will D be able to leave work and get her?  Can I dial a friend to grab her for me?   How will mornings run if I sub at N's middle school?  Will it wear me out completely because I'm so unused to having to be and do and go with a functioning mind and in appropriate clothes?

It would be so much easier, both logistically and internally, if I could be 100% satisfied with what I have and what I'm doing.

But that would, I'm afraid, make me not of humankind.  

No comments: