Today was a tearful day. Not my tears. Toddler tears in the classroom. Did you know that dealing with a child's strong emotions is emotionally exhausting? A child upset about something - I don't even always know what. But some parts of the day just have to happen, whether the child likes it or not. But feeling empathy for my students, well sometimes it's just hard.
Then there are the disagreements that don't involve tears. The very subtle disagreements. Like when I'm thinking, you are going to take a nap, as I rub a child's back. And the child fights as long as possible to keep his or her eyes open. Really? Just go to sleep. Pleeeeeease! You need the sleep. You're body is ready to sleep. I need you to sleep!
There are, of course, wonderful moments. Reading books to children who are interested. The toddler who brings over the toy whale and talks about Jonah (a Jonah and the whale story is rather popular with the class right now). The toddler who gives up a toy car (the kind you ride in and move with your feet) saying it is another toddler's turn. Better yet, the second toddler saying he wants the first toddler to push him in the car. Moments when I think maybe we are getting somewhere in our quest to teach the toddlers to treat each other nicely.
But even wonderful moments don't remove all stress. Nor do they remove staying up late the night before to finish homework, followed by having trouble falling asleep.
I can tell when I've had a hard day when I start emphatically telling my guinea pig to "Sshhh!" I haven't got patience for the noise of his voice squealing repeatedly at me. Or when I get mad at the piece of chicken in my dinner because it isn't cutting and sticking on my fork properly. Perhaps I'm not so different from the child who just couldn't handle various small setbacks (like when I refused to hold the child while I stood up - I wanted to hold the child while I sat down on a chair, which is significantly less preferable to the child). Which loops right back to the empathy issue. I've been where small things have given me much irritation. If I still responded like a baby, I might try lying on the floor and kicking and screaming, too. However, it is no longer a natural response for me.
I'm sure exercise would be a recommended response. But I'm too tired and done in to convince myself to exercise despite not wanting to. So instead I'm left with trying to chill out by watching tv, writing a blog post, and breathing. Breath in, agitation out. Well, at this point, showering and heading to bed might be up there on the "best ways to take care of myself right now" list. Pretty sure they are near the top. So good night for now.
No, wait. Not quite. Figuring out the future. I mean, figuring out how I plan to approach the future. Stressful thing. I don't have to limit myself like I used to because of mental illness. I mean, I can't become a super hero, but within normal limits I can explore. Which is super exciting. And a bit exhausting and stressful. The biggest thing I've found so far is that I can't impose OCD-like time limits on my quest for future plans. It would be convenient to decide what change I do or don't want to make and hurry up and do it, because the idea of future change coupled with uncertainty is great for triggering anxiety. But the fact is, I don't know the answers now, and I'm not going to know the answers now. I'm still going to live now. I need to "embrace change" in my life. Because, guess what, for good things to happen (or bad things, it does go all ways), things have to change. For a church to grow, it has to change, because more people and/or more maturity will mean that things aren't exactly the same as they were. And the same is true in my life and in the lives of those around me. A niece or nephew on the way? I've waited so long for that! But it is change. Change I'm excited for. Finishing college? That for sure is a change. Another change I have longed for, but still a change. Life is full of change. Period, end of story. Or should I say period, end of sentence but with a whole lot more words and sentences to come?