Back to School! Or Changes and how they impact me

It’s a funny thing about summertime. As an educator, people talk all the time about how nice it must be to have summers off and how much I must accomplish during that time period where I have no responsibilities. To be fair, yes, it is cool to have an extended time where getting up and going to work isn’t something I’m required to do; however, it’s also true that all the extra time means that you have to be more clever in terms of how that time is filled, especially when you’re working with the same income you are during the year (nothing helps to curb spending money quite like being at work all day, it turns out). And to be honest, these last two summers have been far from filled with days of sleeping in and doing nothing, seeing as having a 3 (now 4) year old around really adds to the need for entertainment.

All that to say this: I usually go into the summer (it’s been something like 7 or 8 summers now since I started teaching) with great plans for things I’m going to do–projects to complete, places to visit, etc–and usually get to the Sunday night before I go back to work with very few of those things having been done. Don’t get me wrong, these past two summers have been fantastic–I got married and went on a honeymoon to Punta Cana last year and celebrated our first anniversary with a trip to Chicago this year–and there have certainly been things I’ve gotten done, but as I ready myself to launch into yet another school year, I can’t help but carry a little trepidation on my shoulders.

For one, my job has changed a little bit, and I’ll be moving from a hybrid classroom/administrative role back into a role that essentially puts me back into the classroom full-time. I did this for my first two years at my college, but it’s been a while, so I’m not sure I remember how to handle the six class load nor do I fully look forward to teaching all those classes. I loved the duality of my previous position, loved knowing that my days were generally going to be different throughout the week, and I just don’t get the impression that I can do that without adding on to my load by taking on further responsibilities. It’s as conflicted as I’ve felt since starting here, and it makes the return to work a little bit bittersweet in a way it hasn’t in five years.

The second bit–and this is an announcement of sorts–is that E and I are in the process of buying our first house, and we close in the early part of September, which means we’ll be knee-deep in school and all that entails, all the while trying to finalize paperwork and getting our apartment ready to be vacated AND then actually moving and setting up the new place. Add to all that the general sense of “I don’t know what I don’t know” feeling that I get regarding the house buying process, and you’ll maybe understand why I’ve been of two minds since I got back to work on Monday. E is doing a great job sorting everything out while she’s still at home, but she’s had other things to contend with too–namely a precocious 4-year-old–and it isn’t fair to ask her to do everything. On top of all that, moving is a very expensive proposition, and I’m not a fan of things as they pertain to money, so that adds another level of stress to the proceedings.

As you can tell, I spend a too much time worrying about things I don’t know about or can’t possibly control. I am excellent at this, actually, and I’m not one to count myself exceptionally skilled at anything. Thankfully I have two great things at my disposal when I find myself wrapped up in the throes of concern. For starters, my wife is wildly optimistic about most things and is generally quite excellent at reminding me not to lose my mind over things (sometimes she is not successful, but that’s on me). I am certainly blessed to have her, as she balances out my crazy. The second element is those rare moments where my mind clears, life seems to slow down and I remember that I am loved beyond words by a God who presents me with grace beyond measure. Even typing those words released something in my mind like air out of a ball.

I’m not always tremendous at doing this. I’m constantly battling my own neuroses and hang-ups, a war that I seemed destined to engage in for the rest of my life. Knowing for me isn’t half the battle; in fact, it barely factors into the equation at all. I know a lot of things, can easily tell you what I believe is truth, but incorporating them into my psyche so they absorb into me and become me is another thing altogether. It’s a fight between my heard and mind, as Aaron Marsh of Copeland once wrote, something I feel down to the very core of who I am.

And all this meandering just because I started work again. But that’s how the mechanisms of my body work, and the more I realize what I need in order to survive in that, the easier it’s going to be to handle situations like changes at work, buying houses and other curveballs–whether self-inflicted or otherwise–life tosses me.

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