It’s the end of a school year and though students are done, I have a few more casual days to head on in to work to finish things up. And then, for the first time in several years, I have the summer off. This was a conscious decision as I did have the opportunity to work throughout the summer, and it was appealing, because along with the extra cash, it would have stretched me a little, putting me just outside of my comfort zone and therefore bumped up my learning experience.
However, for various reasons, it seemed a better decision to pass on that opportunity at this time and for the most part, I’m excited for the time off (I mean, obviously.) One of the influences on my decision was time to focus on writing and the neverending search for that elusive thing called publishing. Another influence was my kiddos. For the most part they are self-sufficient, specifically my older two, but my youngest is struggling with the transition from elementary to middle school and quite frankly, is going to need more than his high-school aged brothers. Neighborhood friendships are not what they once were as the kids have gotten older and interests have changed. And to continue being frank, none of my kids has been very successful navigating their social side in the tween years, so I remember that as my kids grow older, they do not need me any less. They just need me differently.
A new purpose to having the summer off has surfaced, too. I’m off to find my grace. It’s slipped away from me recently, and I need it back.
I have a job that I really enjoy. I work in two different elementary schools in technology support. I get to help others, I get to work with kids sometimes, it offers a lot of problem-solving, I learn new things, and it’s generally rewarding. I work with some really great people in both schools – I continually tell others how lucky that is! And even in the last days, when a lot is going on and the workload is more intense, and I’m exhausted at the end of the day, I still enjoy the work.
What’s the problem, then? Well, it’s been the slow build-up, of course, of my circumstances. I’m going to skip over the details of what my job has looked like throughout the year beyond the rewards of it and jump to the end: It’s the high expectations from some who forget that I’m only one person and only in each building for three hours. It’s the last minute – literally – requests and demands during a time where my one person, not-many-hours-to-do-it, non-teacher pay position is not enough to give everything. How much “above and beyond” do I give willingly? And if I give unwillingly, how do I manage that? I’m not afraid to say “no”, and have done so when it felt right or necessary. It’s the “yes” part that has led me to this conflict.
The lack of grace doesn’t come in the amount of work or the level of expectations. While I’m not right in everything I’ve expressed with family and friends about all that has gone on with my job, I’m also not all wrong. No, it’s not the professional assessment. Rather, it’s how I’ve handled it all. This is where my grace disappeared. Each day I drove to work telling myself, “New day, new attitude. It’s all good. Go with the flow.” And each day I failed and complained to the wrong person or in a crabby manner about it all. When had I become this person? When had saying “yes” become a thing to give begrudgingly? And why did I feel I had to bemoan something that fundamentally wasn’t an unpleasant thing to do? I know why I was frustrated, but I also wish I hadn’t expressed it in ways that I did – and still am doing.
And so, this summer off is a different sort of gift – it’s a needed one. One in which I will search for the return of grace. I suspect I will find it primarily in my kids. But I will also find it in my writing, even if not as much as I originally planned. I will find it in a return of regular walks. I will find it in my reading. I have been re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series and it’s just what I needed. I have a great stack of other books waiting for me (including a new Sarah Dessen!), but I am thinking I might do some other re-reading of favorite books, too.
Then, I will remind myself of how lucky I am – first, that I can take a summer off (HUGE privilege, don’t you think? I am very aware of this and truly grateful.), second, that I have a job I really do enjoy, third, that I work with stellar people, and fourth, I have a partner who supports me in whatever my job is on any given day.
How do you regain your grace when it has slipped away from you? How do you re-charge?
The following song is on one of my novel playlists, and I especially love this version and the way they play out the pause before the last line in this refrain makes me smile – grace. 🙂
“If you call my name out loud
Do you suppose that I would come running
Do you suppose I’d come at all
I suppose I would”