Today, I took a sick day and stayed home. Not for me, though I have struggled with my health lately thanks to what the doctor said is a nasty upper respiratory virus making its way around. Two days of relentless fever and general misery gave way to what’s going on two weeks of relentless coughing fits that make my students fear I might actually hack up a lung in the middle of rehearsals. But that wasn’t enough to make me take a break. My son ran a fever overnight which means he couldn’t go to daycare today.
Between doting on and fetching things for the buddy, today I:
~Took a nap
~cleaned the kitchen
~Finished TWO loads of laundry—like, actually washed, dried, sorted, folded, and put away TWO entire loads of laundry (to some, that is an unimpressive feat…those people obviously don’t know me, and haven’t seen me pull clean clothes out of the drier for myself or my kids for multiple days in a row…)
~Watched vloggers I like on youtube
~Cleaned out my daughters’ drawers and closets
~painted my toenails
~took what, by mom standards, can only be called a heavenly, luxurious shower that included a new shampoo and conditioner I’ve wanted to try, a deep conditioning hair treatment, and an exfoliator for my poor feet
~Enjoyed two hours in the beautiful weather on my front porch
~Read several chapters in two new books I recently acquired from the library
In short, it was a lovely, restful, rejuvenating day. And the buddy feels better, too.
If you’re a teacher, you likely understand the hassle and guilt associated with taking a sick day. It’s such a hassle to leave sub plans. We feel so guilty when others have to cover our classes. We worry the kids won’t behave in our absence. It’s why many of us just suck it up and come to school despite the fact our bodies, and dare I say it, our minds are screaming for a break. Because the kids need us, and there’s no way they can accomplish anything without us and our superhuman teacher powers.
But I’ve begun to think that smells less like martyrdom and instead, reeks faintly of self-righteousness. Of course they can be productive without us—isn’t that the whole point of education? We’re supposed to be fostering independence and encouraging personal responsibility. Maybe they won’t be as productive without us, but they can live without us for a day. Or two. Or even three. In fact, it might be good for them—something about accountability-and-making-their-own-way-and-now-they’ll-appreciate-us-even-more or the rather.
What I’m saying is, sacrificing our own health for the sake of staying in charge for 180 days is more about us than it is about them. What’s more, we assign ourselves too much importance when we neglect to care for ourselves citing the excuse that the students can’t get by without us. If that is truly the case, what kind of teachers are we?
Yes, it’s a pain in the as-piring teacher’s well-laid out lesson plans to be gone, to hand over the keys, albeit temporarily, to our kingdom: our classrooms. But if the result of a well-placed sick or personal day is more patience, less exhaustion, more energy, and fewer lung expectorating coughing fits, then isn’t it worth it?