I am thankful for a break.
I am on break from teaching for the next nine days. I know when I actually count how many days I’m off, and start telling other people about this out loud, that I really, really need a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I am one of the few lucky people who can actually claim that they would do their job even if they weren’t paid (if you’re reading this, and you’re my boss – please disregard that last statement. Thank you.) But what I do for a living requires a certain kind of energy, a certain level of engagement that fills me up – and after some time without a break – can drain me as well.
My schedule in the past ten days or so has been unusually full. I started very early one morning to teach a full weekend seminar, both Saturday and Sunday. I had a couple of days off and then began the team-teaching portion with two newly hired educators to get them up to speed in their training. I love this aspect of my work, but it usually involves extra hours after class has ended to recap and look ahead to the next week. I had a day off and then I taught a full-day weekend intensive followed up by a day of walking groups through the hospital for a tour of the unit where they will deliver. By the end of it all, I was pretty zapped.
I probably only put in about 45 hours over 10 days – but given the fact that most of that time is spent actively engaging an audience, it ends up feeling a lot more than that. What I find most interesting though, is that even if I end a full day only to have to get up early the next morning and go again, once I’m in the classroom and up in front of the group, I feel full of energy. To me, this is a sign I’m probably doing something that I’m supposed to do. Being “in the zone” much of the time I’m working means that I’ve finally put some of my individual strengths to good use. Let me explain this a little bit further.
I have four children of my own and they’re really great kids. I’m always amazed at how the same DNA can come together and create such different creatures. Not just in how they look but in who they are. My third child is a firecracker. Every family should really have one of these. They can make parenting super challenging sometimes, but they’re also really fun and highly dramatic. I love her to pieces but she’s been giving me a hard time since before she was born.
The night before I reached the 40 week mark, I woke up with a start. I didn’t have to go pee, so I couldn’t figure out why I was awake. The next morning I realized that she’d flipped during the middle of the night into a breech position which is why I woke up. I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and placed them directly on what I thought was her head. I switched out frozen corn for peas all day long and that night I slept with my bum straight up in the air to see if the cramped space between my ribs would be annoying enough to make her flip back into a head down position – and thankfully, it worked! (Sometimes you have to teach them a thing or two even before they’re born!) But she still managed to have the last laugh as she came out of me looking like Superman with one of her hands up by her face. Ouch.
This child is most like me. And parenting yourself is not always easy. I don’t want to sound arrogant, so let’s just say she’s got some of my good qualities. But unfortunately, she also has some of my not-so-good qualities, too. She’s independent to a fault, stubborn, impatient, and refuses to ask for help unless it’s absolutely necessary. Oh, and she talks – a lot. Every single parent-teacher conference we go to, the teacher says something along these lines. “She’s a great addition to the classroom, but if we could just work a little bit on her chatting with others while they’re supposed to be working…”
Hmmmmmm… I wonder where she got that from? I’m pretty sure if I asked my Mom what my parent-teacher conferences were like so many years ago, they’d be pretty similar. I got in trouble my whole life for talking too much in the classroom. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, I’m just the most social person I know. Seriously, I haven’t met anyone who craves to be with people more than I do – except maybe my own little mini-me daughter. I’ve had more than one conversation with her about how she needs to try and control her talking out of turn (I still struggle with this – meetings just about kill me!) but that she can look ahead and actually find a job, a career even, that supports her desire, her need to talk and be social with others. How do I know? I’m living proof!
The engagement that my job requires in order to be an effective educator is intense. And for the most part, I thrive on this engagement. I look for the opportunities for an exchange between myself and one of my couples to happen that causes an “Aha!” moment of clarity, understanding, or self-discovery. When this happens, I can literally feel it and I realize that what I do matters. Maybe not to everyone, but at least to this one person, in this exact moment. String a whole bunch of those moments together and you get to see what personal and professional alignment looks like.
I have no idea what my daughter will want to do with her life when she grows up. I certainly had no idea that I would ever end up being a Childbirth Educator when I was her age. I’m pretty sure I was close to thirty years old before I even knew such a job existed. But whatever she decides to do, I hope she’s as lucky as I’ve been to find something that aligns with her spirit.
I know that in about a week, I’ll start to get that itch again – the desire to get back to what fuels me, what fills me up, what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
And I’m thankful for that.
This is my official recruitment blogpost. :O) If you’ve ever considered working in the field of Childbirth Education, consider this a little voice whispering in your ear, “You’d be great at this! You should check it out!” Leave me a comment if you’re really interested and I’ll follow up, I promise. And one more thing… I’m super thankful for those of you who read and leave comments.
Are you doing something that fuels you, that aligns with your spirit? If so, how did you manage to discover it?