We once again come to the end of March and our month of slicing. I have very mixed feelings. I’ve been participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge for several years (5 or 6, at least), and last year and this year are the two in which I did not write every day.
Last year, I was teaching 8th grade from home while simultaneously monitoring every aspect of my 5th grader’s online education, I developed pneumonia, rushed my child having seizures to the ER, and spent a lot of all-nighters at the emergency vet hospital for an end-of-life but beloved cat, so I think everyone agreed that the fact that I missed a few days here and there was understandable.
This year, though, is more nebulous. The point of the challenge, and the joy in it, is sticking to what you have pledged to do, and working through the tough spots when you have nothing to say. In the past, some of my best writing came from days on which I struggled to write. (Some of the worst writing too. 😀) I always enjoyed the challenge and the ability to write, which was something I had lost time for over the increasingly busy years.
This year, there were days where I just could not do it. I could not bring myself to stare at the blank screen and conjure words, and I am disappointed in myself as a result.
It is hard.
It is hard to write cheerful or thoughtful or insightful stories about education when it feels like the education system is falling apart around you.
It is hard to summon the memories of the funny things students say or do when the pressing issues of families in crisis, students who may be suicidal, fights breaking out on campus, and aggression, disrespect and defiance on levels you’ve never seen before plague your day-to-day work in the classroom, drain you of emotional energy, and warp every perception you have of your ability to build relationships, support kids, and teach well.
It is hard to write about family when you are so exhausted from pandemic parenting that you just want to nap for three weeks and not speak to anyone at all.
It is hard to channel creativity and craft it into something interesting and new, melding words and emotions into a poem or a story, when you are discouraged and confused.
It is hard.
But I made it through the month, and did write almost every day. I read and commented and read some more. It was nice to read that I was not alone in feeling as overwhelmed as I do. It was sad, but comforting, to realize that the struggles in classrooms are happening everywhere, not just in mine. I re-read my own writing from last year and realized how far we have come in a year. Hard as this month has been, I would not want to relive March of 2021 at all. I thank all of you for being here, and sharing your struggles and joys, and helping me spend a bit of time on most days doing something that is important to me, just as me.
I will keep writing.
I will once again try to keep slicing on Tuesdays. (And I may very well once again forget to do it by 9pm my time every week, but I will try, and I will read the slices from those of you who do consistently write every week.)
I will be back next March, for more slices.
Au revoir. May the next year bring us all health, prosperity, and a return to some type of normality.