Friday, September 27, 2013

Putting on a happy face...

Life gets crazy and stressful and it's hard to put on a brave and happy face. Right now, I'm on such an emotional roller-coaster I just don't even know which way is up. I'm not one for self-centered rambling---- but I need to talk.  I'm not looking for attention. Or words of wisdom. Or even one single comment. I just need to put this out there and get it off my chest. And right now... I have no one that I can be completely honest and open that with other you my cyber-friends. And it just feels right.

Sometimes I feel like I'm expected to feel a certain way. Like people hear about what's going on in my life and they feel excited or happy and so I'm expected to feel that way. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure somewhere deep down I do feel happy. But when people call me or email me or ask me about how things are going... and I don't act as happy or excited as they think I should... they start thinking something's wrong.  So then, I have to try to pretend to feel the way everyone thinks I should... just because I don't feel like talking about how I really feel. Or maybe I don't really know how I feel.

Maybe a little background would help...

I was working 2 jobs. I loved both of my jobs. One was retail and the other was as an aid at the elementary school (working one-on-one with a child). I went into school every morning at 7:30, left at 3:00 and went straight to my other job where I worked until 9pm. It was what I had to do to help make ends meet. I love my retail peeps. And as hard as my school job was... I was the only person in the school that could make that child comply and actually help learn. We had a special bond. (And I miss them all dearly... which doesn't help.)

Over the summer, I interviewed for a real teaching job at the school where I was working. I didn't get it. I then interviewed for 2 other jobs in 2 other districts. I didn't get those either. So, school started up and I went back to working both jobs. I was feeling defeated... I mean... I am in debt 50,000 dollars for a degree I can't even use. Makes you feel like you aren't good enough... when that's not really the case. The market is just so saturated.

Then, one day while I was eating lunch, I got a phone call. It was from a school district I hadn't even applied to. I had been recommended to them by one of the places I wasn't hired at over the summer. He said he wanted to interview me. What a switch. I accepted, of course. But the school is almost an hour from where we live. So I debated. But I knew that if I didn't at least interview... everyone would be angry with me. And maybe I'd be angry with myself at some later point. Maybe.

I interviewed and got the job. I should be ecstatic. Except that deep down I really was hoping I wouldn't get it. And that's something I haven't admitted to anyone. Because what a shitty way to feel. I mean... so many people out there want what I was able to get. Why didn't I want it? It's a long drive. It's a preschool program that is state funded by a grant. I've worked in this type of program before and I don't really like it. Plus, because it's a M-Th program, I don't make a full teacher salary (even though I work in my room on Friday doing paperwork). I make 89% of the starting teacher pay. Even though our program has so many mandates and regulations that I actually work more... and harder... than I did when I taught kindergarten. The room was completely bare, and there was too much work to get done in the 3 days before we started. And even though I'm really good at working with preschool-aged children, I don't really enjoy it like I used to. And there's so much more but I won't bother you with those.

I took the job. Of course. I was expected to take it. And I know I should be grateful that I have a teaching job... in a district... and that I'm making CLOSE to a normal salary. And damn it... I should be excited. Except I'm not excited. Fuck. That's not how I'm supposed to feel.

I walk into my room. Yes... I finally have my own room. And I feel dread. Not only is it completely empty. But no one has ordered any of my furniture... or toys... or manipulatives. How the hell am I supposed to entertain 16 4-year-olds with no materials?!?! So I spend 4 days in my room with my wonderful hubby helping me. And by the end I thought I'd feel happy. And more excited. And proud of myself that I finally got a job. But I'll be damned... I didn't. But my husband. Being the amazing man he is. He's telling me how proud of me he is-- how happy he is for me to have my own room again-- how thankful he is that we won't be struggling anymore. And now I feel guilty. Guilty that I don't feel the way he wants me to. The way everyone wants me to.  And I'm so tired of putting on a happy face. It's exhausting.

The end of my first day with kids. I get phone calls. They go something like this...

Caller- "So, how was your first day?"
Me- "It was ok. Busy and stressful... but it was ok."
C- "What's wrong? You don't sound happy? Do you think you made a mistake?
M- "No. I'm fine. Just tired and stressed" (as any new teacher would be... so stop bothering me!)
C- "Well... it'll get better. You're amazing with little kids, and I know you'll do a great job. You love this age!"
M- (Totally putting on a happy voice and trying to sound sincere) "Yup. I'm sure things will get better and I'm so happy to be back in preschool."

And on the inside I just feel like crap that I have to pretend and that I don't feel the way I should. And all I want to do is get off the phone. And not answer it again until I'm out of this mood. If that's what it is.

It's like this... for days. Today we had professional development. And I'm even more stressed than I was last night. I don't know how I'll ever get through some of the things I need to get done. Especially as I'm waiting for orders to be made and arrive... and for my aid to be hired... and so many other things that are not in my control. I can't do most of my work until someone else does theirs. Fuck me... I hate relying on other people to do their work so that I can finally get to mine! Since I'M the one being observed... and it's MY room that isn't stocked properly. It's all on me... except I have to wait for other people to order the stuff I asked for. And I have to wait on those orders to arrive before I can work for hours and hours putting stuff where it needs to be. Finally.

After my meetings were over today... I stopped and walked the beach. Living near Lake Michigan really has it's advantages. I walked back and forth, feet in the water, for almost an hour. Trying to get a handle on my feelings and trying to sort things out. It calmed me down... and did help me to get centered and focused. A little. But I'll take it.

I am so very lucky and thankful that I was hired (the feeling is there... it's just hidden beneath the bullshit right now). There is always the option to move to a different grade next year or when an opening arises. And that's an opportunity I didn't have available before. I am so grateful that I have such a wonderful support system and a husband who is so helpful and amazing. Driving 45-50 minutes to work is nothing compared to what some people have to drive. The other preschool teacher is very helpful and has provided me with everything she could to get me off and running this week... including sharing lesson plans and her daily schedule. My family is terrific... not many mothers would drive an hour to come and sew you curtains on a Saturday night with only 1 day notice. Nor would they PAY the $50 for the fabric because they knew you had already spent hundreds of dollars on other stuff... and then stay up until midnight to get them done because you were going to finish setting up the room the next morning.

My lack of excitement stems a lot from the chaos I'm in right now. I am in limbo with so many important things... and that creates a sense of panic. I don't want anyone to know I'm scared and worried though. That would just cause them to worry. Then I'd feel guilty and the cycle would just keep right on going. Another blogger wrote a post today that absolutely hits the nail on the head. No one wants to be vulnerable. And sometimes we just have to power through and pretend that we're ok. Eventually... we will be. It'll take some time. And a lot of sleepless nights full of anxiety. And hard work. But it'll happen.

I still don't feel the way everyone expects me to feel. I still have to put on a happy face and pretend to be excited. I still have to hide the fact that I'm scared shitless and worried and full of anxiety. I have to hide that there are things about my job that I absolutely despise... mainly about the program I'm in. But I can't change that. All I can do is find a way to get through it.

I can do this. And I will do this.

And I will kick-ass while at school and I'll show everyone what a great teacher I am. And when I'm at home, by myself, I can let the worry and dread out for a little while.

And things will get ordered. And a permanent aid will be hired. And, before you know it... things will actually be really good. And everything will be okay again.

I just have to keep it together long enough for the good stuff to get here.