Dec 15, 2013Small plans and lowered expectations
I’ve been sitting in this spot on the couch since 7am. It’s almost 10:30am. It’s Sunday, so if you’re lucky enough to have a day off and have no plans, which occasionally happens to most of us, you could get away with this. This doing nothing.
Thing is, I did the same thing yesterday. Yesterday I folded half of the clothes in a laundry basket that’s been sitting here since Friday night. I’m still in pjs. I haven’t brushed my teeth. I do have plans. They’re not big. I keep them small on purpose-being gentle with myself: Finish folding the laundry, get dressed (no shower), brush my teeth, read a book, go for a walk, do some yoga, bake granola bars (a pre-cancer Sunday ritual I’m trying to bring back), cook dinner (what’s the point, without my Sam?).
I’ve become fairly comfortable with these small, daily goals. I feel downright accomplished when I complete the small tasks I set out for myself. It’s a good day if everyone has food to eat, clothes to wear and teens get to school and get back home again.
On Friday I learned that the committee at my place of employment denied my request for another month of catastrophic leave. Back in July or August my advocates with HR and the school board felt there would be no problem with me sitting out this entire school year on catastrophic leave. Sam’s terminal illness and death are a catastrophe. He is dead and I have lost my bearings and my remaining children and my husband are also spinning, helplessly. It seemed reasonable that I take this year to try and piece us back together in some semblance of family-this new, fractured unit of four.
Officially my leave ended on Tuesday. So in the vision of this committee I should’ve gone to work this week. Right now, if I were working tomorrow, I would be in my classroom prepping for the week. Instead I am on the couch. According to the committee I am ready to take responsibility for the education of 30 young people. Per the committee I am ready to drop the teens at school, manage a classroom of 30 Sam’s for 6 hours, work until 5 or 6 planning the next day, and come home to what? Last week one of the teens cried every day after school over the stress of grieving, keeping up, and catching up. Last week one of the teens left the house in a fit of grieving anger and I drove around the neighborhood looking for that one to offer comfort and a ride home. When I think about returning to work I mostly think of the cost to the teens and John. I haven’t even begun to think about how I am yet. How will I be around children Sam’s age? Will I be constantly distracted with thoughts like-“He should be here.”? Will I be irritable? Cranky? Unfocused? I can’t concentrate long enough to read a book or fold a load of laundry. What kind of teacher will I be?
I think I’d be a pretty crappy teacher if I went back to work right now. I think I wouldn’t want my kid in my class. HR is on my side. So is the board. They want to offer me administrative leave. It’s the best they can do. It means I have to prove my unfitness for work right now (prove that 56 days after Sam’s death I am still grieving too hard to work?) It also means that the sub in my room will be paid out of my salary. These are rather large inconveniences that I (and my family) are prepared to accept if they allow me to stay home to continue this imperfect reassembling of my family.
And just in case anyone is still actually with me and reading, sweet Superman Sam died yesterday. He was 8. Here’s a link to his mom’s blog. http://supermansamuel.blogspot.com/2013/12/what-im-missing.html?m=1