So we dance this dance in the desert, always moving closer to that mirage. Which always, always turns out to be an oasis.
But it would be a lie if I said that it didn't wear me out sometimes, this constant dancing. It's hard to remain calm and firm and detached and consistent but also loving and gracious and joyful all day long while hauling people forcefully out of the desert, and none of those things are really optional. Yesterday I was tired by the end of the school day.
And then I came home and ... Joey hurt his back horribly two days ago and hasn't been able to so much as put his own socks on since then, but he's worked anyhow. So I tried to make him comfortable and get him various things he needed and the extra sympathy he craves when he's hurt and schedule a massage for him but I don't know the number of the place and the internet was taking forever. And I had to make dinner right then and Ariel was zooming around the house shrieking like a (very cute) crack monkey, asking the same three questions over and over, getting into everything. And Nessie was taking hesitant steps, which called for applause EVERY time (which brought Ariel over so she could show us that LOOK, I'M WALKING! I WALK ALL THE TIME! CLAP FOR ME!) and she's just discovered the trash can so I had to stop her from pulling things out of it repeatedly, which made her scream at the top of her lungs and cling to my legs while I tried to make dinner and get things for Joey and answer THE SAME questions over and over and the dogs wouldn't stop BARKING and there was suddenly a very anxious email from a student's parent to answer, which I knew needed to be dealt with right away! And Nessie bumped her head on the table while trying to climb into my lap as I tried to answer the email and you thought she was screaming before? No, she was JUST WARMING UP then, THIS is screaming!
I scooped her up, slammed my computer shut, snapped at Ariel, threw a remote
Nessie stopped crying instantly (oh the magic of Outside!) and I tilted my face away from her, up to the sky, fighting back my own tears.
All my words to my students began drifting softly through my head... all the things I say patiently, calmly, a thousand times a day about having courage and strength and trying even though you don't think you can do it, about having a sweet temper and controlling yourself when you DON'T have a sweet temper...things like that.
Things that surely apply more to taking care of your family than they do to revising an essay.
I let out a long breath. Nessie leans forward and rests her head on my chest. Ariel comes to sit next to us and flips through a book about bugs, which she is terrified of and only looking at so I will tell her the name of each kind of bug and she can learn more about her enemy. We sit and swing and snuggle.
I go in and finish making dinner and send Joey off to the chiropractor and put the girls to bed and finish my email. I explain the assignment and my reasoning and the school's philosophy in great detail, and the whole time I am thinking of it as it applies to me.
This, coming home after using up all my stores of grace and love and patience, but needing still more grace and love and patience for my family, this is my essay that I don't want to keep revising. It's really hard and I'm not sure I can do it. It isn't fun and I've failed at it many, many times before. Chances are I will keep failing and I'm so very tired of feeling like a failure. But I understand now that Someone is dancing me through this desert.
I conclude my email with, "I am convinced that ----- is capable of completing this assignment, and I feel I would be doing him a disservice if I excused him from an opportunity to empower himself through the experience of perseverance." and I am really writing about myself at this point.
It is an oasis, not a mirage, out there, and the only thing to do is get up and keep dancing.