My prayer since Christmas has been "God, stretch me to fit my life." Because what he's called me to do feels way bigger than me. Teaching college for the first time is tough. Teaching college while writing a bi-monthly column, working Wednesday mornings at FLN, and raising 2 needy kids is HUGE. (Did I mention the course was on the Book of Revelation?)
Thankfully I'm growing into it.
I'm learning not to sweat the small stuff. There just isn't time or energy. Instead of freaking out I'm saying things like:
"I'm not mad you accidentally broke the antique coffee table. Go choose a story while I carry the pieces downstairs and then we'll read together."
"I hear you spent the morning in the principal's office. What are you going to do differently next time?"
I did not used to sound like that!
The kids have had a rough winter in school and at home. Everyone seems to be jumping to the conclusion that it's because I'm teaching now. Without asking they "know" I must have less time or less patience for my kids than I used to.
Like I said, nobody asked. But I'll tell you anyway.
As far as time: I started prepping for my course 8-10 hours per week in September. Now I'm doing 25 hours/week but I've cut way down on the time I spend on church meetings, shopping, coffee dates, blogging, and watching TV. Before Christmas I spent my weekends napping/cleaning and then prepped while the kids were at school; now I nap while they're at school and prep for my Monday class on the weekends. So mom's still not available Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, just for different reasons!
G. and I still read and play for an hour every afternoon and I still help K. with his spelling and piano practice after supper. If I'm studying and they get hurt, I still come running to kiss their boo boos. And if it's the middle of the night before I have to teach and they get growing pains, I still get up to rub their feet.
As far as managing my stress so it doesn't affect the kids: I relax, not study, after I put them to bed and I'm asleep by 11:30. I take Tuesday and Thursday (the days after I work) off to nap, watch stupid TV, and make up teddy bear puppet shows from behind the recliner (but only by request).
Those who think the extra "anxiety" of teaching has created a shocking decrease in my motherly patience obviously didn't notice how anxious I as about teaching before I started! And perhaps you've forgotten: I never was the patron saint of peace and patience to begin with!
Today G. said, "When I grow up I want to be a teacher. What do you want to be when you grow up?" When I told her "I already am a teacher" her gasp of delight rocked my world.
I believe God gave me this teaching contract as a gift because he thinks I can do it - without sacrificing my kids! Yes, it's stretching. But I'm not about to snap - I'm growing into it.
And who wouldn't want a mother with an even bigger heart?