When I was a kid, my favorite Monday night activity was when my parents took us to the public library. I would browse the shelves, deciding between Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or Laura Ingalls, with the occasional Judy Blume thrown in. It was such a safe space, the children’s fiction section of the library. The short shelves within arms’ reach, the area rugs splattered on the floor, the chairs I could sit in and let me feet actually touch ground–it was nearly a second home.
Today, after some particularly frustrating events at school, I went to that library to return some books and check out new ones. I’m working my way through this list, and I wanted to read the rest of the books in the Betsy-Tacy series. They were there three weeks ago.
They were gone today, and even though they weren’t my favorite books, I was a little disappointed.
As I walked through the children’s fiction section, a young girl caught my eye. She had been sitting at a table reading a book when I walked in, and now she was on her way back to the same table with a different book.
I envied her.
Yes, I know much of the pressure I feel is self-inflicted, but much of it is not. I’m starting to buckle under the expectations placed on our staff this year, and it’s only the 3rd week. I already feel like a failure, and I’m having a hard time keeping perspective.
Seeing that little girl made me want to cry. I just want to sit in that library and read books at a table. And I don’t want to ignore my responsibilities–I want to not have them in the first place. (Any wonder I don’t have any kids?)
Every year the despondency hits me earlier and earlier in the school year, and I’m starting to wonder if it’ll just better for me walk away from teaching sooner than I had expected.
But I can’t walk away this year, so I’ll spend some time tonight grading and making some last-minute plans for this week. Then I’ll start reading the books I did end up checking out from the library, take a walk, do some yoga, and try to remind myself that at the end of the day, I can only do so much.
And I’ll try to be okay with that.