The Cracks Are Beginning To Show

When I signed in tonight, I noticed that I have not written a single blog post since this school year began. And that feels about right. Because I signed in here tonight to write about how exhausted I am. I wish I was coming back here after all these months of the school year to share with you something inspirational, some of the work that my students and I have been doing, some words of peace as we make our way through another week of violence fueled by racism. But I don’t have any of that tonight, though all of that is desperately needed.

What I have tonight is my exhaustion.

You see, when I think back on the past two years, I think about how I went from my own personal crisis, straight into a global one. I started to heal from my own life falling apart just as the whole world began to fall apart. And there was never a choice to do anything but just keep going. To gather the broken pieces, to build some kind of foundation, no matter how fragile, and just move forward while standing on top of something I knew was not built to last.

I think that is what so many of us have done this year.

And now. Now that we are maybe starting to be able to see a light at the end of this tunnel, it seems as if the cracks in that fragile foundation are beginning to show. This moment reminds of me of when I used to come home from college and as soon as I got back to my parents’ house, I inevitably got sick. It’s like my body knew I was home and it knew it could get sick because now there was time and space for that. Well, I think that has been what has been happening these past few days and weeks for me. I think my mind and body know that we are coming into the home stretch, of this school year and, hopefully, of this pandemic. It seems to know that there is going to be time and space to fall apart a little bit, and my mind and body seem to be taking full advantage.

And the cracks are beginning to show.

For a year now, we, as educators, have struggled through our school days, however they might have looked, and we have carried our exhaustion along with us as we have adjusted and readjusted and tried and retried and failed and failed and failed. Because no matter how hard we have worked or how innovative we have been or how damn much we have loved our students through it all, there was simply just no way to make this school year feel fully successful. For those of us who have been full in-person teaching since the start of the year, for those who have been fully remote, for those who have been doing one of the millions of combinations of something in-between, nothing has felt fully successful. The best parts of what we do, have largely been made impossible. And the world has wanted so much from us. And there are administrators who have thanked us for being flexible, while continuing to ask of us the impossible, all the while telling us that it really isn’t all that bad. It all has just been so exhausting.

And the cracks are beginning to show.

And as many of us try to do right by our students, we are also trying to do right by our own children at home. And it feels as if we are constantly letting them down. Because as hard as this has been on educators, what we have asked of children this year seems infinitely harder. But it is hard to be there for your child, when you are also trying to be there for everyone else’s. For me, it has been making hard choices of what to do with my own remote learner while I am off teaching in-person. It has been watching her struggle and feeling like I should be able to help more. This is what I am trained to do. Why can’t I do it for my own kid? I have seen her stress and her anxiety and I have wanted so badly to protect her from it all. But I have learned that I can’t. I have started to navigate the IEP process and worried the whole time about what this means for my kid and where I should have made different choices and how this year has affected her and all of that feels useless because all I want for her, really, is to feel happy and loved and safe. But trying to make that happen has also just been so exhausting.

And the cracks are beginning to show.

And for many of us, as we take on these burdens, we are doing so in isolation. While I spent the first year of my personal-falling-apart, learning to exist while being held up by those around me, this second year has seen all of that ripped away as we became so very much defined by the units living within our own households. Community was something I came to rely on and then, in so many ways, community was ripped away. So many of us have struggled on our own as staying safe meant staying isolated. I have never been very good at asking for help to begin with, and this pandemic found a way to really exasperate that even more. When people have asked this year how I am doing, I came up with ways some standard ways to respond. I would say things like, “Oh, you know, I am still here.” Or, “I am surviving.” And I would always say it with a chuckle. And in many ways it was true. But what was behind the truth, was the other truth, “I am drowning and I feel completely on my own, but there is nothing anyone can do and there are so many people who have it so much harder and so I am just going to chuckle a little bit and admit that it all sucks.” And that truth has been so exhausting.

And the cracks are beginning to show.

For the past two years, I have told people that I exist in two states. I am either sad or I am busy. Happy isn’t really a thing for me right now. I feel joy. There is a lot of joy in my life. And I am grateful for all of it. But happy feels like something else. And it just isn’t a state that I exist in right now. So, when I can, I choose to be busy. And, over this past year, it has been hard to stay busy as we have been stuck inside of our houses. So, for me, that has meant that I have taken on one project after another. I have written curriculum and I have guided new team members through existing curriculum as we’ve tried to figure out a way to teach in this new way and I have worked within the community I live in to try and push our district closer towards justice and equity and I have said yes to webinars and presentations and I have started to cook more and make cookies for my kid’s lunch because it’s one of the few things that seems to make her really happy and and and. That is largely how I have kept myself moving. But the truth is, all the busy has been a way for me to hide. My ever growing to-do lists are a way to help me find purpose and value in my life when there are so many days were I doubt that those things exist. And that kind of busy has been so exhausting.

And the cracks are beginning to show.

So while the world starts to feel some hope again, I also want us to remember that it is going to take a long time for us to heal. I started writing tonight because I want to remind myself of that. So much damage has been done this past year. People have been harmed in so many different ways and for educators that harm has just been so public. And while we keep moving forward through this final stretch of the school year, I hope that the world can remember that the cracks that have made their way deep into our foundation, those cracks are going to take a long time to mend. I think for many of us, we are only just now starting to become aware of how deep these cracks really go because for so many of us, there is still no other choice but to just keep moving and telling ourselves that we will just have to fix it all later.

I am not writing tonight to ask for advice. To be honest, I am not in any kind of advice-receiving head space. I just needed somewhere to put this all because I know that when my own thoughts get too heavy to keep carrying alone, this little space is a good place to put them all down to allow them to rest for a while. And maybe there are others out there who are feeling these same things and knowing we aren’t alone always makes this load a little easier to carry.

So I am sending lots of love to all of you out there. Love with all your deep, foundational cracks. And I am hoping that we all can find some moments of peace sometime soon to allow those cracks to start to heal.


12 thoughts on “The Cracks Are Beginning To Show

  1. Yes, to all of this.

    May we all find peace and healing.

    On Sat, Mar 20, 2021 at 6:30 PM Crawling Out of the Classroom wrote:

    > jesslif posted: ” When I signed in tonight, I noticed that I have not > written a single blog post since this school year began. And that feels > about right. Because I signed in here tonight to write about how exhausted > I am. I wish I was coming back here after all these ” >

  2. I could have written most of these same thoughts and feelings. As the year has gone by from last August when I began teaching in person, I have felt like I’m slowly but surely losing myself as I take care of everything and everyone else. At first, there were no meetings, no extra duties, and it was enough to just show up. Fast forward to second semester, and I’m struggling to make my energy last all day. It’s like administrators and the public have decided it’s time for teachers to get back to doing everything again. I’m so thankful to have been at school face to face, but I’ve used every ounce of energy and I’m exhausted. There are 9 more weeks left in the school year and 2 more until spring break. May teachers everywhere be supported and cared for, even if we’re doing it for now ourselves.

    • Thank you for sharing. I can see myself in many of your comments.i hope this comment helps you know that you have been heard and that you are valued. They always do for me.

      • Thank you so much for the acknowledgment! Only teachers truly understand what teachers do. May you finish strong this year!

  3. When you say I am either sad or busy…such truth, all of this TRUTH. I also appreciate the distinction you draw between JOY and happy, joy that meteor in the night sky, happy that blanket you cuddle. Wonderful this entire post. All my best to your daughter and the dual mom-teacher role which complicates everything. I don’t know how I could’ve handled this with a school-age child. Retirement has its perks.

  4. What you have stated was eloquent and oh so true for so many educators! Thank you for putting pen to paper and reinforcing feelings that so many of us are having, or have had this year. Sending peace and perseverance your way,

    Carol Sue

  5. Your words about our giving our best effort, being thanked by admin then asked to give even more, truly resonates with me and so many of my campus colleagues. Thank you for putting it all into words. You are not alone.

  6. I cried while reading this – because your truth is our truth. The cracks are beginning to show and the part of me that I will allow myself to think about that wonders what happens when we fully crack. Will it be a rebirth? I hope so, because the alternative isn’t something I want to face yet. Thank you for voicing this.

  7. Thank you for sharing. I too know to well the difference between joy and happy this year. I pray for healing for teachers everywhere.

  8. Monday of spring break and I read this under a weighted blanket that’s not helping. Your words do. To be feeling so alone, knowing there is someone who can eloquently speak my truth, helps immensely. My chronic neck and back pain, my constant whirling brain of how to make this work, even when there is a glitch at every idea, watching my students mental health fade over a screen, it’s all getting to be too much.
    Now, to help my 14 ur old have good days on ‘spring break’…
    and NOT think of how the hell this ‘hybrid’ next step will manifest…
    Peace and thanks, CH

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