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  • Writer's picturekatelyn russell

The Separation Between Work and Home

Yesterday was Labor Day, which for me means a day off exactly when I don’t need a day off. School started Wednesday, we went for 3 days, and then a long weekend. How about Labor Day in March instead? I spent most of my day off trying, I mean really, really, trying, not to think about work. It’s like the now-cliche experiment with the white bear. The more you try not to think about a white bear, the more you see a white bear. This was me yesterday. The more I tried not to think about work, the more I thought about it. And then, angry that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I spent precious time researching new jobs. Something is off here, something is wrong. And I don’t think it’s my job, I think it’s me.

This discontented milieu started with a passing thought while having coffee on the porch. It was 630AM and warm. I sat on the porch writing my morning pages, listening to the birds and sipping coffee, and a random thought drifted through - wouldn’t it be nice to do this every day? As I write these words it’s 5:45 and still dark out. I’ve been up for almost an hour. This is another way of saying my day starts early during the week.

So I took that thought and spun around it all day. I was already a little off - we were home on a beautiful weekend and I wanted to “go somewhere” and “do something” (my words to my husband) but there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. So instead of relishing the home time, of reveling in it and my sweet baby boys, I spent spare moments searching for remote work.

I’m going to keep fleshing this out but I’d rather put this work out there than worry about getting it perfect. There’s no neat and tidy answer, anyway, and to suggest that there is is disingenuous. Here’s where I am - the thought represented something, some whisper of truth, and my reaction was telling. Instead of gaslighting myself, I’m going to accept that teaching is hard and that teaching through the pandemic was truly impossible. It left marks, as I’m sure it did on everyone. But all jobs are hard and they have their pros and cons. Leaving teaching wouldn’t solve the problem of how difficult it is to separate work and home. So that’s my focus this year. And I can build coffee on the porch into my morning routine, even though my day starts early.

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