Saturday, July 23, 2022

When Cleaning is Hard

I cleaned out more stuff today. 

I loaded up my six boxes of teaching stuff that I wanted to donate and headed to the homeschool curriculum swap. They let me set up a table and leave, only to return at the end to pick up what wasn't taken. I wasn't charging money for anything, so I didn't really need to be there. 

Of course, while I was setting up some moms stopped by my table and asked me questions. It surprised me how quickly I could jump back into "teacher mode" and start spouting off foundational skills for reading and writing. One mom said, "I feel like I should be writing all of this down." At one point, as I was describing phonological awareness, decoding, and sight words, I felt the room go silent. I could almost feel everyone turning an ear my way. But hey, I taught for a long time. I know what I'm talking about.

But... I also had to get out of there. It was a room full of homeschool moms and their children. It was a room full of people living out my dream. I really, really wanted to homeschool. My friends all told me that my kids wouldn't want to be taught by me. And if they didn't, that would have been okay. I would have found a different teacher or enrolled them in a public or private school.

But I didn't even get to try it. 

Dream big. But also, dream multiple dreams. Not every dream works out.

I came home, felt melancholy, ate my delicious Mexican food leftovers, and waited... After several hours passed, I got back into my car and drove back to the church where the event was being held. I packed up the materials that nobody wanted and brought them home. And threw them away. Maybe I should have donated it... Maybe I should have worked on finding homes for it all...

But, no, I did what I should have done.
Which was protect my mental health.
Which was getting rid of that stuff immediately.

We've been having some home repairs done on our 100+ year old house this past month, so we happen to have a dumpster sitting in our front yard. So everything went straight from my car into the trash. No regrets. I wasn't going to save the planet single-handedly by hanging onto that stuff until I found someone who wanted it. But I did save myself.


As if that wasn't enough for one day... There was one more box of stuff just sitting in our laundry room, stuff unrelated to teaching and that I wanted to keep. So I decided to find room for it. I took the box into my sewing/guest room and realized my bookshelves were full. But I also realized there was still a shelf full of pediatrics. It's like my stuff had babies! Apologies for that metaphor. 

So, I found myself pulling everything off the shelf and going through it. I set the good stuff aside for a friend and threw the rest away. I texted my friend and asked, "Can you stand one more box of school stuff? I found some more." Thankfully, she wants it and I'll mail it as soon as I can. 

The rest of it went in the trash. I love that ugly dumpster sitting on my front lawn.

And then, predictably, I cried.

I cried because I didn't get to raise my children. I cried because I'm so good at teaching, but it literally doesn't cover my bills. I cried because it's the end of the semester, it's hot, I'm sad, and I'm just plain worn out. The cry session only lasted a couple of minutes because, like I said, I'm worn out. I'm too tired even to cry.

So it's gone. Ok, ok, I admit I kept a couple of boxes of stuff that I couldn't part with. I don't know why. Maybe I'll use the stuff with my boyfriend's sister's kids when they get older. Maybe I'll donate it all a decade from now. But, for the present, it's in the shed in the backyard. 

There's no teaching or pediatric stuff in my house.

A purge indeed.

I'm glad.


  1. It sounds like a very painful, but healthy, purge. Sensibly done, to protect your heart, but even when we are being protective, we can't block anything out. I admire your self-knowledge - that you know what you can and can't cope with. That you can weep, then recover. That you can mourn, and yet look to the future too.

    I hope that you feel lighter now, without all that stuff weighing you down.

    1. Thanks Mali. I definitely feel lighter!

      Why keep stuff I don't want or need? It takes up mental space. It takes up valuable shelf space, space that can go to geriatric textbooks (my new career focus) or, even better, more fabric! :)

      Gotta feel those feelings though... Otherwise I'd get sick.

  2. This sounds so hard, but therapeutic -- I agree that sometimes, rather than finding just the right spot for something, the best thing is to get it out as fast as humanly possible. I absolutely love this: "Dream big. But also, dream multiple dreams. Not every dream works out." I feel like this is the message our young people need to hear. That it is NOT giving up when a dream doesn't pan out, and that to put everything into one dream basket isn't healthy because everyone doesn't get everything.

    Also, I have no doubt that you are an amazing teacher. And I have no doubt that all those pieces of yourself -- the teacher, the pediatric person, the researcher, the re-maker -- they are all going to come together. I feel like we are all just refining our selves and it's okay to continuously transform into the best versions of ourselves. You are a great example of that! :)

    1. Thank you Jess. I needed to hear/read this today. <3