Doing It Right.

I like Fridays. I mean, I like every day (except Tuesdays are kind of always long and annoying — no offense, Tuesday, you’re just caught in between a case of the Mondays and Hump Day), but Fridays are really great. There is a sense of freedom with the weekend merely hours from my grasp, and it’s nice knowing that I don’t have to rush around the room to get everything ready for tomorrow and then rush home to just do more school stuff.

Fridays are a big sigh of relief. They are a joy.

Every day, Fridays included, the custodian for my building comes in and sweeps the floor and vacuums the carpet and things of the like. He’s a huge Carolina fan (as everyone should be), and we almost always talk about the most recent basketball game or how the team is doing. He’s an incredibly pleasant man to talk to, and I find our afternoon chats simply lovely. Each Friday when he sweeps, he always asks me what I’m doing for the weekend, and most Fridays I give him some kind of activity-packed answer.

“Miss Stewart, you are doin’ it RIGHT.”

The custodian said this to me and further explained that he thinks I’m doing it right by making the most of my weekend time. I like to think I try to, but he really drove it home this past Friday:

“Every time I ask what you’re doing for the weekend, you always have a good answer — that’s why I love askin’ ya! That’s the kinda stuff you should be doin’ — goin’ out and havin’ fun and enjoyin’ that time, because before you know it you’ll be in your 30s!”

Now, that last part about hitting a new decade almost drew the line, but I like the man so much I just went with it.

I take my life outside of school very seriously, because I’m not just a teacher. I willingly admit that I often identify as the Miss Stewart side of me, but I’m also a musician and a sister and a friend; a film-lover and a chef and (unfortunately) a maid. I’m a lot of things, and I take pride in those other things that I am, too.

Even though I love teaching, I don’t want to lose the other parts of me that I love.

I don’t go to school on the weekends, and even though I do school work (I plan all of my lessons the weekend before the week I teach them), I still would much rather work in a coffee shop or in my pajamas on my couch than back in my classroom on a Saturday.

Despite my strong opinion on my time away from school, I have to admit it wasn’t always this in control. There was a period, namely right after Christmas, where I was working really hard all the time and not doing much of anything on the weekends because I was just so tired. This really upset me and I was realizing how unhappy I was because I wasn’t interacting with people or engaging in fun activities.

I was exhausted, I was overworked, and I was empty.

The reason I prioritize the “me time” of my weekends so much is because I desperately need that time. I think the hardest part this year hasn’t been the planning or the actual teaching part of my job — what’s been so difficult is staying emotionally full. Every minute I strum my guitar, every phone call I take with my brother, every page I read of a book (that I’m reading for pleasure, might I add) is building me back up every weekend. Sometimes my weekends are pretty full, and this weekend was one of them — I babysat, saw a friend from DC, hung out with some other friends and played some games, visited with my family (grandparents came for a visit all the way from Ohio!), got dinner and coffee with a good friend, went to church, ran errands, planned, watched a basketball game, made dinner with a friend — but even though I was busy and didn’t spend that much time at my apartment, I feel so well-rested.

It all goes back to staying full.

The number one thing I remember professors in my Elementary Education program telling my cohort was that as a teacher, you always have to take care of yourself. I really feel like I know what they meant when they told me that three years ago when I entered the program.

Needless to say, it’s a balancing act. I probably could spend more time on school-related activities during my weekends, but it’s all about the prioritization. I know that for me personally, I won’t be an effective teacher if I’m not taken care of and happy, and if that means I don’t take papers home to grade over the weekend then so be it — I regret nothing.

I’m hoping that the rest of this school year I’ll be able to continue “doing it right” so that Mr. Toomer wants to keep asking me what my plans are for the weekends.

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