Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Gift of the Unexpected Snow Day

view from my window this morning
Ordinarily, if there's even a whiff of snow in the forecast, my boys and I have spoons nestled under our pillows, our pajamas on backwards, and ice cubes floating in all the toilets in our house. But this morning, as I was trying to convince myself that I didn't need to get up early, that 10 more minutes snuggled in my flannel sheets was worth the rush I would face later, my phone made the familiar buzzt, buzzt of an incoming text message. My fellow tenth grade honors English teacher shot out a quick text about how we could post a part of our plans on our Google Classroom pages. "This shouldn't put us too far behind schedule," she texted.

Wait!  What? We have a snow day!

Sure enough, school was closed today because of dangerously icy road conditions. I didn't see that coming. I certainly could use a day off to catch up on some grading that has been lingering in my book bag untouched for a few days. But, there will always be papers to grade and lessons to plan, snow day or not.  So today, I made the decision to simply enjoy this unexpected gift of a snow day.

I spent the morning watching the sun come up over our snow-covered yard, watching fat flakes float from the tree limbs outside my kitchen window as I made pancakes and eggs for my boys and husband. We got ready slowly this morning, chatting, goofing around, connecting. And then after my boys boarded their bus, two hours later than they usually start school, I hit the treadmill. Time to get those steps in. I read a book that has been sitting untouched since January. At the moment, I'm sitting in front of my fireplace crafting this blog.  And you know what? I'm relaxed. On a Wednesday afternoon.

I'm not worried about what has been left undone, about how much still needs to be planned, organized, graded, what emails I have yet to return, what paperwork I need to turn in. These things seem to consume my daily life. I rush from class to class, activity to activity.  Don't forget to... Be sure to...  Make certain you... I have to-do notes on my phone, in my planner, oftentimes even written in ink on the palm of my hand, always so much to accomplish in the span of a day. There never seems to be enough time.  And yet, there always is.

Things that must get done usually do. Those that don't quite get done on time tend to work themselves out.  And what seemed so important in the moment is forgotten by the close of the month. Will this matter in a year? Things move so quickly in our classrooms, and it is easy to get overwhelmed, both for teachers and for students. We are all so rushed. As educator John Spenser has said, we are wearing busy like a badge of honor. But it's not.  It does not make us better teachers, better students, better partners, friends, or parents to take pride in how busy we are. It does no good to repeat that trite claim that there just isn't enough time.

It took me many years as an educator to learn that I needed to let somethings go.  So today, I'm letting go of my to-do lists, if just for a little while, to enjoy this unexpected gift of time.

I find comfort in the poetry of Whitman:

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

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