We’ve spent the past two weeks at home, doing not much at all. We did not see the holiday lights on Parliament Hill, even though we live only a 15 minute walk away. We did not go for a hike in the Gatineau Hills, even though it’s a 15 minute drive and beautiful. We didn’t decorate the tree until a few days before Christmas – heck, we didn’t even GET the tree until a few days before Christmas. We didn’t deep clean anything. I didn’t grade any schoolwork. My children didn’t do any homework. Even my partner, who does not work in education, took two weeks off and barely looked at his work pile.
We read a lot and watched movies. We did some puzzles and played some board games. My kids (ok, and my husband) played too many video games. I just kind of lolled about doing the NYTimes crossword and knitting – and scrolling social media, of course. I took walks, the kids hamster-sat, we played Hearts.
It was wonderful.
Truthfully, I’m still tired. Tomorrow we go back to school, and we’re back online again. Even contemplating the prospect is exhausting. I’m setting up my “office” in the basement, crossing my fingers that the internet won’t conk out when all four of us are online at the same time, paring back (and back and back) on what I had hoped to teach, praying that most students will have access to tech, that they mostly show up, that this time we’re back in person soon… I’m kind of ready and I’m kind of panicking. For the past year or so – for all of COVID, in fact – this has more or less been my constant state.
Clearly, I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. I’ve just been trying to keep my head above water. (Did I mention that I have a sore throat? I have a sore throat. This, along with everything else, is a symptom of Covid. SIGH. I’m getting tested.) I wasn’t going to choose “one little word” this year, either – it was just all too much. I wasn’t even thinking about it, really, until I started reading about the words other people chose. “Hmmm,” I would catch myself thinking, “that’s a good word. But it’s not my word.” Or “Oooh, I like that word; maybe I could adopt it next year.” None of the words was just right. Good thing I had decided not to do the whole one little word thing.
And then, Sunday night, a word popped into my head. It was not the word I wanted. I was hoping for a word like, I don’t know, amazement or courage or even energize. I was expecting spark or resist or fight. Maybe joy? Or persist? Instead, my brain was whispering relax. RELAX?
Has my brain even been with me for my whole life? That is not my word. I am so far from relaxed right now that I can barely even contemplate it. So, I tried to have an argument with my own brain. I suggested changing our word to breathe – breathing is close to relaxing, I think. Nope, it didn’t stick. I pushed for stretch – too active – let go – too judgy – quiet – too impossible. No matter what I suggested, my mind returned stubbornly to relax. I know myself well enough to know that even if I pretend it’s not my one little word, it is. That sucker is going to follow me all year, whether I adopt it or not.
Can I relax? Maybe. I imagine whispering this to myself in the middle of a meeting where my shoulders are tense from frustration – relax. I can see myself standing in the middle of a classroom where everything has gone awry – again – and hearing the echo of relax. I wonder if, maybe, at home I can worry less about getting things done and more about being where we are. Maybe this summer we can visit our relatives and just hang out. Relax.Relax.Imagine relaxing…
Look, I’m still not actually happy about this – I like my words to be something to strive towards… Oh. Wait. I think I need to relax.
Alright 2022, here I come. Slowly. As relaxed as I can get.