Preface: The transition back to school has gone as seamlessly as we could have hoped. Really I feel like I hadn't left the classroom. I still talk excessively with my hands and share too much of my personal life with my students. Months later I still drowsily make it through first hour only with a cup of coffee in my hand, and chocolate in the teacher's lounge still feels a bit like Christmas. (And I still get goosebumps when I see a student's writing come alive through the revision process.) The boys were thrilled after the first day and couldn't wait to share about their classmates, their teachers, and of course, their recess escapades. They've been back at it for eight days. While it hasn't been perfect, it's been mostly positive.
Our biggest issue right now is sleep, and at times it feels like a really. big. issue. General back to school exhaustion coupled with the hypervigilance that comes with trauma has resulted in very early mornings and a sometimes grumpy mom. (I will possibly blog about this more later, but if there are any other parents here who have tremendous sleep advice, I will gladly consider any and all solutions. Right now the boys are waking at 5 or earlier every day.)
On Thursday night one of the boys was up way past his normal bedtime exhibiting behaviors that we hadn't seen in months. He was overtired, and so was I. If you had crawled inside my head at that moment, you would've heard a barrage of statements that went something like this:
I can't do this. Why did I think I could ever go back to work successfully? How will I function in my classroom tomorrow? I'm already tired, and now that I'm up so long with this drama, I know I can't do it. And really, I was thinking I needed a vodka tonic after this, but I probably need a shot or two. I'm not cut out for this. I can't do it. We're barely surviving here, my last thread is unraveling, and I thought I had a solution thought through for these sleep issues. Obviously I was wrong. I'm always wrong. We're back right where we were a year ago.
Keep going with that though pattern, ad nauseam. And then I snapped out of it. I remembered I didn't have to feel that way. I took my thoughts captive. Soon the inside of my brain started to sound a bit more like this:
He's starting to get sleepy. He's just overtired from this adjustment back to school. He doesn't mean the things he's saying right now. And I can do this. I am a good mother and a good teacher. Tomorrow is a new day. A Friday, too! I will wear a cute maxi dress. Yes, we can do this.
And maybe it sounds kind of crazy, but I felt better, more confident. Within a few minutes the overtired little pumpkin was being tucked into bed by his dad, and I was getting ready for bed. The next day was better, and while the sleep issues are still alive and kicking, we tripped our way through another day. While I'm increasingly aware that we will never "arrive" as a family, I am taking captive those thoughts that reek of doomsday and destruction and our demise. Because they get me nowhere. Fast.
I don't have a magic formula for taking my thoughts captive. Sometimes it's repeating over and over again, "I can do all things in Him. I can do all things in Him." Sometimes it's remembering what Paul commands us to think about in Philippians 4:8. Often it's a mental slap in the fact, a not-so-gentle reminder to myself that my thoughts have power and that I have the power to rein them in.
So here I am, nearing a birthday that edges me that much closer to 40, a woman who just this week referred to myself as "middle aged" with my students, and I'm finally learning to fight for my thoughts. My learning curve has a broad shoulder, though, and I'm continually showing myself grace.
I also think about how desperately I want one of my precious sons to learn this lesson soon, to stop himself from cycling through the spiral of negative self-talk. So I try to model for him, to choose the positive route when my boys are watching, especially. That makes this lesson feel that much more important.
What about you, blog friends? What have you been learning these days?