my vow to be lazier

As I drag myself through my days on only an ounce of sleep, I realized something:  we live in a screwed up culture over here in America.

We are constantly telling each other to go easy on ourselves…to find “me time”…to take care of ourselves, yet…we continue not to.

Why?

Because being busy and/or productive is what is highly praised.

The more we do (and I can only speak from the point of view of women, because I am one.  But I feel like men probably deal with this too), the more people give us compliments.  At least that is how it is for me.

And the compliments feed my annoying need to say “yes” to every little thing.

“You are so organized!  I know you can handle this!”

“Wow! You are like supermom!”

“You are amazing at x, y, and/or z!  I would love for it if you would use that talent to help me out with this here project I have!”

“I can’t believe you teach full time and are such a great mom!”

“Ego stroke, ego stroke, praise for running yourself ragged.”

And at the same time, the same people are saying,

“Listen to your body, and take care of yourself.”

“Get more sleep.”

“Eat better.”

“Exercise more.  You will feel so much less stressed!”

“Seriously. Don’t be afraid to take a break.”

The funny thing is, if I was to actually take a break and do absolutely nothing for a day, or a week, I might get a couple people praising my decision, but if I started to take breaks regularly? It would turn into bitter responses:

“Must be so nice. I would never have time for that.  But GOOD FOR YOU.”

“I have no idea how you have time!  I do all these things and I could never give them up just to sit. But GOOD FOR YOU.”

And then they become unkind things said about you behind your back,

“Did you know Katie Sluiter has a cleaning lady?  Can you imagine? Must be nice. I could never justify paying someone to do something I can do for free.”  (For the record, we no longer have a cleaning lady due to needing that money for other things. But isn’t it sad I feel the need to clarify that?)

“Did you know Katie Sluiter gets a pedicure once a month even in the winter? Must be nice. I certainly don’t have the time or money to do that.” (Again, I don’t do this anymore since I am saving my allowance money for other things).

“Did you know she doesn’t even work and yet she pay someone to clean the house? MUST BE NICE.”

“Did you know she works full time and still goes out every Friday after work with her co-workers and let’s her husband put the kids to bed. She goes all day Fridays without seeing those kids.  MUST BE NICE.”

“Did you know she hires someone to babysit the kids even though she is home in her room writing and reading and napping? Who does she think she is? MUST BE NICE!”

(aside: none of those last ones were actually about me, but they are things people have said to me about other women. Sad.)

Women who stay busy and bust their asses to the point of becoming hysterical messes because they are so overwhelmed are praised.  And they are even sympathized with when they vent about the stress of their life.  But the minute they make an actual life/routine change so that they are regularly taking care of themselves, they get pegged for lazy, selfish mothers.

It’s not just women either.

It is fact that Americans work far more than any other country.  We take less time off and spend less time completely unconnected from our work.

Is it any wonder that we are a country who eats their feelings, has high diagnoses of depression, anxiety, and general burn out?

I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately.

I am threadbare right now.  I have brief moments of rest, but those make me feel guilty.  Saturday AND Sunday this weekend I took giant naps.  And I felt like a jerk for doing so.  EVEN THOUGH I had been up ALL NIGHT LONG with kidney stones (or something) and gotten about 2.5 hours of sleep Friday night, then threw a baby shower at 10:30am with over 20 guests. On Sunday morning before 11am, I did all the laundry and dishes, and prepped my school stuff for Monday.

Anyone would have told me I deserved to catch up on that sleep and rest my weary body.

Yet I felt lazy and horrible for leaving Cort without a partner to help around the house during that time.  For sending him for groceries while I slept.

What kind of example am I being to my boys?

When Eddie was Charlie’s age, I took a job teaching adjunct for our local community college.  I was gone 2 nights a week.  Cort was also gone those nights a week for his class.

I was working full-time during the day and part-time at night.  I had five high school English classes (including 2 honors classes) and a college English class.  I had papers and grading and planning coming out of my ears.

It was horrible.

Oh, I loved my work.  But I hated my life.

I missed MONTHS of Eddie’s first year (in reality, I missed the whole first year to a combo of depression, anxiety, and being over-worked).

I vowed to cut back.

Before getting pregnant with Charlie, I cut out all extracurricular activities and the high school where I work and stopped teaching adjunct.  It was just my day job and evenings at home.

It was lovely.

And now? I am killing myself again.

A lot of it is beyond my control with all the changes in my school district and with Cort being gone three nights a week.

But all the plans and crazy on the weekends? That is my inability to say no.

All the tiny “extras” I keep saying yes to?  That is my need to be liked and to have my ego stroked.

And where does that leave my family?

In last place after the grading and the planning and the writing and the time with other people.

This has to change.

It’s time for me to shrug off everyone else’s opinions of what I should or should not being doing.  It’s time for me to nut-up (as Cort says) and just say no once in awhile.  Even if my reason is “because we just want to sit at home and do nothing.”

Usually it is in those “nothing” days that the most wonderful family moments happen.

So this is my promise–in front of everyone I know and don’t know–that I will be lazier.

I will lounge with my family and just be silly.

I will take time to do nothing and not feel bad about it.

I will have moments in my life that are unplanned and not organized.

And I will just be.

Because I want to show my boys that what is most important in this world is the time spent with the ones you love, not with the piles of work I can’t say no to.

spread way too thin

I, I’m spread way too thin
Everybody wants to know what’s happenin
I, I’m spread way too thin
What’s the big rush now, tell me why you’re rushin’*

Last night (Tuesday) I started a post about a small moment with Eddie that made me so filled with happiness I almost burst in our local grocery store.

I started the post at 8:30pm after putting him to bed.  I had quizzes to grade, but I figured that since the event was fresh, I would hammer it out, hit post, and move on to my quizzes.  It takes me about 30 minutes per class to mark them and enter them into the grade book, and I had three classes to do.  That would still give me time to get to bed by 10pm–something I desperately needed after all the running I did that day.

Instead, I got about 2 paragraphs down before Eddie got out of bed a total of 6 times.  It wasn’t just getting up either, he was doing ridiculous things each time like taking all his bedding and clean laundry and stuffed animals and his bean bag and putting it all in a pile in the middle of the room and then telling me he couldn’t sleep because his bed was messy.  O_O

All this time he was fighting bedtime, he was also getting very tired and very whiney and very VERY sobby.  I was getting tired and stressed and angry.

If you have read this blog for any amount of time you know that when Eddie and I clash, things get ugly because we are the exact same person.

By the time Cort got home at 10:15pm, there was a broken humidifier (Eddie’s doing), a crying three year old (my doing), and a crying mommy (our doing).  I was lying in bed with him and we were apologizing to each other and crying.

Cort took over and I stayed up until 11:30 getting my grades done, but not the post.

People?

There are cracks in the foundation.

After Cort came upstairs after getting Eddie calmed, he sat across from me.

It was all too familiar.

Me in my chair, him on the couch.

His worried, concerned face.

My tear-stained face.

Defeated, I covered the same ground I did 3 years ago.

It’s happening again.  Just like after I went back to work after having Eddie.

I want to do it all.

I want to be the best mom and the best teacher.  I have the passion for both.

But I can’t.

When I am busting my butt to be a great teacher and really do all the awesome things I want to, I am neglecting everything and everyone in our house.

When I say “no” to grading a bit longer or staying at work a bit later to plan, stuff piles up.  Deadlines become frantic (like the progress report deadline of 8am tomorrow {Thursday} that I am avoiding by writing this out).

I can’t win.

My weekends are jam-packed with things I totally want to do, but adding that to the already non-stop work week means that other than sleep, I am getting less than an hour TOTAL of Katie time a week.

The cracks in the foundation are rapidly starting to become fault lines.

Well everybody’s callin’, but I just need some time
Yeah I just need some room to breathe again
A way to clear my mind

While changing a poopy pants the other day I had a quick vision of myself sitting in a room of my own.

There was a desk with a nice area for grading and planning.

My laptop was there for writing.

My notebook was open to a fresh page.

There was a window looking out to trees and flowers and singing birds…or a rainy day…or a snow-covered lawn.

There was a steaming hot cup of coffee next to me and I was wearing yoga pants and a hoodie.

And I was at peace.

And then I looked down and realized there was poop on my hand and the baby was crying.

This introvert needs solitude to recharge.

And that is not happening.

Right now, my entire existence is for others. Every ounce of energy I have is being squeezed out for others’ needs.

And I am left empty and broken.

*Lyrics from “Spread Too Thin” by Dirty Heads

Mommy Pants, Vis a Vis Markers, and a Basement Project

Getting my Mommy Pants was a nightmare.

People have been telling me since I got married that I would look GREAT in a pair of Mommy Pants, but I was reluctant to get myself a pair.

Yes, I had watched other people wear them—my own mother had a pair that was so perfect for her, I could have sworn she was born in them.  Many of my friends also had the latest, greatest Mommy Pants style, and sometimes I found myself envious of them.  They looked so comfortable, so much fun.  They seemed so “in”.

And then one day in February of 2007, I got a shipping notice that my Mommy Pants would be arriving around Thanksgiving of that year.

Wait.  What?  I hadn’t ordered any Mommy Pants. Or I didn’t think I did.

I was stunned.

Suddenly, I did not want anything to do with Mommy Pants. I wasn’t in the market for them and I certainly didn’t think they fit my style at that time.  They looked great on some people, but not on me.

to read the rest of this post, head over to Mommy Pants, where Cheryl (one of my partner’s in crime at The Red Dress Club) has invited me to share about my Mommy Pants moment.

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I am also mocking reviewing Vis a Vis overhead markers over at This Blogger Makes Fun of Stuff.  If you have ever used an overhead, or been witness to one being used?  You really need to weigh in on how I feel about these markers.

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Back here in Sluiter Nation?  We are working on our basement.

I don’t have much to say about it except that it sucks and it’s awesome at the same time.

Pictures?  Ok…

 

first they found mold. black mold. no good, I tell you.

but they put the tub in anyway! Score!

then they ran electrical and plumbing and fixed the mold. win.

then dry wall was hung and a layer of dust fell over the Nation

primer was applied by the fabulous Mr. Sluiter

we bought paint

we painted. that shirt, by the way, has been worn to paint every room in our house.

this will be Eddie's room hopefully within the next year!

that's right...I painted the bathroom orange. BOOM!

This has been the past two weeks here in Sluiter Nation:  a constant state of construction.

Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited that this is finally happening.  We have been saving and saving and planning for six years.  It was time.

But I don’t do well living in a state of limbo.

So I may be hard to live with lately.

Maybe.

*************

I have a new book review and a GIVEAWAY going on at Katie’s Bookcase!  Just in case you weren’t sick of me sending you all over the internets today.

Changes Amongst Traditions

Lately all of my posts have been about school.  I realize that.  Part of that is because it’s been my Back to School Bonanza (which has only one week left).  The other reason for that is because it is something that is consuming my time lately.

One of the major event that takes up a boatload of my time right off the bat with each new school year is homecoming.

Lucky for me, I am not in charge of ALL of homecoming, but I am in charge of the seniors (choosing the 10 on the court and the master and mistress of ceremony as well as getting convertibles and organizing them for the homecoming parade/game, AND doing the final vote for king and queen), getting all court members lined up and ready to go for the parade, and running homecoming halftime.

It means a lot of little details, phone calls, planning.

And this year?  This year I signed on to do a surprise staff drumline performance during the homecoming pep assembly.

See?  There I am with the base drum!  I am all smiley instead of actually concentrating on the cadence we learned.

I did sort of know what I was doing.  And it was for sure fun because the kids were surprised and totally amazed that we were out there!

As you can see?  The teachers had a wee bit of fun.  Good thing we had a few actual drummers from the band to help us out…we may have been playing more than we were actually playing.

Once school was over, it was time to think about the homecoming parade.  Instead of going home, I loaded my car with homecoming crowns and scepters and capes and scripts and tape and many other random things we may need and headed over to the park where the parade was lining up.

Even though it had been a million degrees sort of hot all week, by parade time the weather had cooled and I actually put on my hoodie.  Even though I complain, I really do love seeing all the school spirit.  There is just something about fall weather and excitement for high school sports that makes me smile.

There go my seniors!  Bringing up the end of the parade (in the corvettes I landed thanks to the Grand Valley Corvette Club!  WOOT to them being AWESOME!).  One last thing to do…head to the stadium and get ready for halftime!

Getting into the stadium and to my spot on the track can be tricky.  Good thing I have a reserved parking spot right near the entrance.

And of course, just like last year, Cortney and Eddie came out for the first half of the game.  This year thought?  Instead of just being a small, squishy baby who just laid in his carrier?  Eddie wanted to get out and RUN!

This year, like last year, Cort and Eddie left just before halftime since the wee one needed to get to bed.  I left as soon as half time was over since I had been at school since 7am and I was whipped.

On my drive home, I thought about how much had changed even though at the same time?  It hadn’t at all.

I have been senior class adviser for going on 5 years now.  This is my first year doing it solo (my co-adviser was moved to a different building).  I was proud of myself for pulling it off (although I am equally happy that Marcia showed up and helped me hand out the flowers to the court).

Even though all of the five homecomings followed the exact same traditions? It seems like there is always something slightly different.

Three years ago there was a new principal.

Also three years ago, I got home from the game and found out I was pregnant.

Last year I had a baby.

This year I was alone in the prep work and execution.

During all the hullabaloo of the planning, part of me wanted this to be my last year.  It was a lot of hard work.

But at the same time, the relieved feeling when it’s over, the excitement on the kids’ faces, the fun of seeing how my life changes even though the traditions remain the same…

all those things sort of make it worth it.

If graduation goes this well, I will probably be back for homecoming ’11 next year.  If not, we’ll just be in the stands.

The Ramblings that I Can String Together Right Now

There is a storm outside.

Why does this seem to happen every time I have a storm in my head?  It’s like the universe wants to smack me with obvious literary irony.  Like I need that.

Ahem.  Anyway.

This morning I was just thinking about how much I love my schedule.  Remember when I was upset and sad and scared and confused about why I had been given full time Spanish instead of full time English?  This morning, I felt peaceful about it.  I have four sections of Spanish I and one section of Spanish II.  My prep hour is third hour, which is the perfect time for a breather and a mid-morning snack.

Long story short, I ruined it.

I picked up a ninth grade English class.  ON MY PREP.

So now I will have no prep time.

I will teach six hours.

Mondays and Wednesdays I will still be teaching at the community college.

My therapist tells me it is Ok to say no to extra money if it means sacrificing my mental health.  But what I have figured out is that it’s not just saying no to extra money.  It FEELS like I am saying no to my family.  Like I am saying, “I could do this to help, but I am not going to.”  It FEELS like I am saying no to those ninth graders who need a teacher.  It FEELS like I am putting myself first.  And that?  feels wrong.

Before picking this class up?  I was hanging by a shred when it came to sleep and time management.  I was spending more time than I really had in the social media world in the evenings instead of just going to bed.

Why do I do this to myself?  Why don’t I just unplug and go to bed?

I guess you could call it addiction.  I mean, those of us in the social media world jokingly call it an addiction.  Those outside it, don’t get the real connections and seriously call it an addiction.

I would say it’s more of an attachment.

Which made made me start thinking about this blog.

What am I doing here?

I looked back at a few of my most recent posts.  And there were very few that I was proud of.

I love all the guest posts.  but those aren’t my writing.

Where is my writing?  What do I want this space to be?

It used to be an update place so my family and friends “in real life” would know what is going on.

Then it changed to something else.  I feel like I am struggling to find my place in this blogging world.  And just as this struggle is going on?  I am taking on more and more at work.  I am putting in 14-16 hour days.  I am staying up way too late.

Something is going to totally give.  And I am afraid for now?  It’s my blogging schedule.

I don’t mean to quit completely, but I just can’t keep up the pace of posting every day.

Even with two guest posts a week?  I am having trouble keeping up.  Well, keeping up and actually saying something real.

This is scary to me.  I love you all.  You are my attachments, not my addictions.  Everyone here lifts me up.  Encourages my good choices and my writing.  I haven’t had any rude comments (yet).

I am afraid of losing that.  You all have become my support net.  When I feel like the world has taken a dump on me…when there is a storm swirling in my head…I can come here, pound it out on my keyboard, hit publish, and you all somehow find the perfect words, the perfect comments to fill my heart with hope.

So this self-imposed “backing off” period?  Scary.  I am going to let my guest posters (who are AWESOME) keep filling in.  I hope you will love on them, because loving on them makes me happy since I love them so much.

And I hope you won’t leave Sluiter Nation.  You are a part of this.  An important part.

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