Running on empty – Part I

I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we are running at our optimal on a day-to-day basis? Do we even know what is our optimum?  Do we know what we are running for, why we are running?  What is the purpose?  I think these 2 questions are quite closely related and it’s important to answer why we are running before we answer the second question of how we are running.  [The how was what I was thinking about when I started writing, so if it feels a little disjunct, I apologize.  It will hopefully all be more cogent next week in the second part of the post.]

Why we are running is a question to do with purpose.  Some of you know that I was a teacher before this stint as a full-time mum (ok, stint sounds like this job is temporary. Then I take a look at my 2 puppies… Nope.  Not growing up anytime soon, so this full-time, stay-home thing is like, semi-permanent).  Teaching was way hard.  It’s a never-ending go-go-go kind of life that starts way before you reach the school.  In fact, it never ended from the night before!  You’re running through in your mind your first lesson of the day, the various admin matters you have to take care of.  If I get a first period free, that was great because I’m in the printing room furiously printing worksheets needed in the next 15 minutes.  If the machine breaks down… Dun dun dun dun….  Don’t worry don’t worry…  I’ve got a couple of English movies in my laptop that I can still whip out and plan my follow up lesson from there.  It’s called… winging it as I go along.  It’s all good cuz I teach English. If it was Math…  Not so good.  But still, no worries because I’ll be taking half the lesson berating the kids for not handing up their maths assignment.  That’s called – good classroom management.  And this frenetic pace will not end even till after school, after all my remedials, department and staff meetings, ccas, lesson prep for the next day, marking, setting papers.  Of course I still get lunch breaks and have nice times gossiping with my colleagues professional sharing with my colleagues (best part of the job) but you get the crazy pace of my day.  And my pet peeve when I’m going through my game plan for the day in the cab is for the taxi uncle to tell me, “Wah… Miss!  Very good hor.  1 pm can go home, still got holidays…  Being a teacher very ho tan…”  I feel like slapping him with a bloody, red-marked piece of composition.

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Totally unrelated but it cracks me up cuz I do do that!

Life was hard.  It was so bad that every Sunday evening, I would get mildly (sometimes maniacally depressed and anxious) as I saw the sun going down and feel the last ashes of Sunday slipping away and I know Monday will come really really soon and there would be all the madness to contend with again.  There were nice kids, there were naughty kids. There were rebellious kids who couldn’t stand the sight of me, then there were the same rebellious kids whom somehow God changed our antagonistic relationship for the better.  Life was hard but there was purpose. So much purpose and meaning and then you look back and realize – hey!  Those were pretty amazing times when you poured yourself into a cause bigger than yourself and got something intangible.  Know that just by showing up, I (hopefully) enriched someone’s life and these amazing kids too – just by them coming to school, being in class made me happy.  That, plus having less admin to do chasing them down, [“Hello Sir, your son/daughter is not in school today…” *pregnant pause*  “WUT?? THEN WHERE WAS HE/SHE???”  *drama begins*]

Then I went to HQ and did an office job for 2 years.  I learnt a lot, like how to write a proper email;  how paragraphing is very important in a paper.  But it was the hardest 2 years in my job because I felt like quitting every day.  Ironically,  I got through the everyday in school because of the bond – when you have no way out, you tell yourself I’m not paying any money to escape.  I will survive and overcome.  But when you are bond-free…  Wow…  The possibilities are endless!  That’s when I found myself dragging my feet to work and I couldn’t see how I was doing anything meaningful – apart from not dropping the ball and make things inconvenient for my colleagues, I couldn’t quite see how I was making a difference.  Purpose.  I honestly think life’s too short to slog 8 -12 hours of your day at something you don’t believe in.  I’m not saying quit and not take care of your financial needs, but I think it’s good that once in awhile, we all evaluate to see if the choices we have made are making us happy.  If not, how do we then work ourselves out of it and get to someplace where we are more fulfilled, more in line with what we think we are supposed to be doing?  Hence, this explains why this is an evaluation kind of post.

Now that I’m here, I’m super happy.  Ok.  You probably can’t tell from all the griping on this blog.  But yes.  Everyday at about 9:30 pm, my happiness chart shoots all the way up because the kids are finally asleep and my life has just begun – not anything hiong like mountain biking or sky diving, just you know, stuff mums really find a luxury doing – eating Kinder Bueno UNINTERRUPTED, stuffing my face with potato chips, checking email, doing work (yes, it’s something I do AFTER the kids go to bed and it makes me happy), sewing, reading Facebook and watching kdramas without itchy, grubby fingers trying to pry the screen off your hands or bang and swipe with their palms and feet and hence, disconnecting you from Dailymotion, which took forever to load.  In the thick of the action, the tantrums and emotion, you can’t process the joy yet.  But at the end of the day when LimpehZ (my husband shall henceforth be known on this blog as his chosen namesake) asks how’s your day, you kinda just think back at all the cute moments, the ridiculous things they do (which led to the tantrum) and you splice your day and you can say, hey… despite all of the nonsense, it was a good day.  It was spent with them, in the trenches and in the hills.  I was there – in their ups and downs.  K said she loves me and gave me a heart.  In the next heartbeat, she said, “Stop singing! You don’t sing!”  I found out later that she didn’t like it when I ended the song.  Ok.  Like whatever.  Recently, she sits really close to me and I ask her why.  She says, “Cuz I like you.”  Aww…. And Z, Z, Z… where do I even start?  His “Mama…?” is enough to lift the dreariest spirits and make me go running (almost skipping) to wipe his dirtiest bottom.  Showing up for work and trying to bring my A game to these little people who need me gives me purpose and meaning.  When you find you can get through the roughest days and still find something to smile about and be thankful for, I guess you have found that sweet spot.  I am learning to embrace it, find respite in it, boast about it, not be falsely humble and feel bad about having happiness in a nation where complaining seems to be the national past time.  Changes hit us all the time whether we like or are prepared for them, so we might as well roll with them.  Rock on people!

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6 thoughts on “Running on empty – Part I

  1. Kudos! LOL to the taxi driver ‘joke’… Sounds like what I’ve been through too! Just No HQ…no no. Can’t tahan admin! Loving you loving your life stage! let’s Rock ON! : )

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    • Hi 5 former educator! Love reading your posts too, like what you do with your kids to engage them. I believe these aren’t just activities, but accumulating memories with them! Too precious! U keep going as well!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So true about the life of a teacher. I tried teaching when I was 22, I was so exhausted, I just knew it wasn’t for me. Now I just teach my own children. It’s a miniature form of the tiring life, so much easier but the stakes are high since these are my kids. ha I can so relate to this post!

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