Friday, January 6, 2012

Sick Day Allowance

I haven’t felt well for the past couple of days. Headaches have plagued me and I’m not sure if they are due to stress or perhaps caffeine withdrawal since I began drinking less diet coke after the new year. Fatigued also however at the end of the day, I’ve gone to bed earlier each night and have tried to take time out of my busy day to rest. But today I needed to take a “sick day” off from work. Not an easy decision, I had to talk myself into the plan yesterday as I made sub plans and thought through how my classes could be planned to minimize the impact of my being gone so close to the end of the semester before midterms.

As the day ended yesterday, my coworker and good friend Jeanna came to my classroom for one of our regular visits. The two of us have been at the school for almost the same number of years and awhile back we discovered we have many things in common; even our typologies are identical! Yet Jeanna is a single woman who does not have children. She lives alone and although she has her own array of non-work responsibilities, she recognizes how very different our days are when we leave for home at the end of our workday.

After we spent some time talking about curriculum, students, and the latest staff meeting, I told Jeanna about my headaches and how I was thinking of taking the next day off. I told her of my mixed feelings of doing that and began justifying my decision and assuring her (and myself) that I would work from home and get some correcting done. She then jumped in and told me how just that morning she’d been thinking of me as she arrived at school early to organize her day. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow. Anne is at home making lunches for her family right now’. I go home and I do this and that. You go home and start another full time job tending to the activities of your children”.

I began to respond. I got a few words out before my eyes filled with tears and I stopped myself. Without my having to say another thing, Jeanna had given me the words of permission, of allowance, that I needed. I was touched by her recognition and acknowledgement of my juggling act.

So this morning, after calling for a substitute teacher, I went back to bed. I slept in and awoke to see snow falling outside my bedroom window. It seemed almost symbolic, as if the world was telling me today was my day to take comfort, to rest my weary soul, and to give myself a clean slate. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll get back to school work and I’ll make my family their lunches, and I’ll do it with a smile. But today I am letting myself take it easy, to recover from these headaches, and to unwind. For I am no good to anyone if I am not first fair to myself.

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