I'm in the middle (well, I hope, toward the end) of a bout with flu. As deathly illnesses go, this one wasn't bad. A night of upchucking and other assorted unpleasantness followed by a lot of dozing. Today, I have fatigue, muscle soreness, and stomach cramps, but nothing dramatic or particularly sympathy-attracting. I feel well enough to write, so I guess I'm going to make it.
Having an unscheduled intermission in the busiest month of the school calendar makes some things clear that I lose sight of, and for that I am grateful.
1) I'm very responsible. Even when I knew (around noon) that I was getting sick, I quickly drew together a plan for
my Monday afternoon classes that would convey the concepts in half the time, ran out to get groceries, and otherwise
had the foresight to batten down the hatches. I often feel that I lack forethought, that I'm disorganized, that I'm
not as committed as some of my colleagues. I think I'm being too hard on myself.
2) My students will survive, and it's even good for them, to be less dependent on me. Of course, everyone would like
immediate feedback on everything they do. That's what moms are for. But I am not a mom to 100 people simultaneously.
So if they must wait until Monday for exam results -- even if it means that they are inconvenienced by coming to
a regularly scheduled class before Thanksgiving break that they would otherwise cut -- that is ok.
3) I do a hell of a lot of work around the house every day. Boy, does that become clear when I completely stop doing
stuff for a day. Dishes pile up. Beds unmade. Clothing unwashed. Toys scattered everywhere. The house today
looks like it received a direct hit from a crap bomb.
4) Kid is a pretty wonderful child. I couldn't drive yesterday (the local school district won't transport her to the Montessori, which is in another district), so she had to stay home "to take care of Mom." She filled water glasses, played dolls,
painted a gazillion Christmas ornaments, and amused herself for the whole day doing math problems and reading
books to be quiet so that I could sleep this one off. It's true that only children are often pressured to grow up
quickly and I think that I've been guilty of asking her to take on some responsibilities that other children
her age don't have to manage -- she cleans her room, she takes care of the catbox, she sets the table and
cleans her place at the table, she sorts the laundry and helps fold and store her clothes, she sweeps the kitchen
floor with a broom and dustpan while I do the dishes, and so forth. At a time of
petit crisis, however, she was able to help out in a way that many children her age could not have done. And for
that I am very grateful. (Of course, some of the things like toy pick-up that she does only grudgingly and
under direct supervision slipped entirely. So what.)
This unexpected gift of time has given me a chance to do some task organizing (I'm also a listmaker!) and
I'm feeling more confident about how I'm going to manage the bulk of work looming before me in the
next month. I've got a brief window after the immediate grading round is done in which to do my own
work and I've committed myself to try to finish this article that I'm working on and get it off to a
journal before the end of the year. It's harder for me to let go of work, I think, because I have been
a scholarly journal editor and thus I know the standard of writing that will cut it.