Knowing When to Unpack the Bag

I can’t be alone in the habit of carried a fully packed and heavy bag back and forth to school every day. In fact, some days it overflows into a second bag. There have even been a few three bag days. Let’s not even talk about the four bag days.

I have plenty of nights when my work day extends hours beyond my  “work day”.

And I’m not complaining, not about the work, at least. Because I love the work. I love the privilege of working side by side with young people every day to help them figure out how to use language to discover themselves and search the language of others to find new ways to tell the world who they are.

But some days that over-packed bag feels like a mountain I’ll never be able to climb. On those days, I drop the bag in its spot in the spare room and avoid its judgment by closing the door until it’s time to leave in the morning.

On days like today, however, I didn’t even pack the bag. Instead, before leaving school today a bit early (to go pick up my new car!), I unpacked it. I left everything I didn’t need in my classroom and walked out the door without even a speck of guilt.

On so many days, we are our jobs. This teaching gig steals our hearts, our minds, our time, and so much more. We freely give those things because it is what we are called to do. We love our kids and we love this messy, sometimes heartbreaking, always challenging, and ultimately rewarding work.

Today I unpacked that bag because I knew I didn’t need its judgment tonight. I needed a lighter load. I needed to feel okay about taking a night off to take care of me.

We all need that sometimes. Our families need us to do that, our students need it too. We are not great, not fully present, if we never unpack the bag and lighten the load.

This work is heavy enough on its own. Here’s to making the conscious choice to making sure that we aren’t making it heavier than it needs to be, and to walking away from the over packed bag when our minds, bodies, and spirits need a break.

I promise, there is almost nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow…the world won’t fall apart if you take a night off, but you might if you don’t.

slice of life_individual



13 thoughts on “Knowing When to Unpack the Bag

  1. Well this was the most “same, girl, same” post I’ve ever read. I needed this tonight! It IS okay to take a break and give ourselves a rest and a recharge. This job is so tough and so rewarding, but we’ll run ourselves into the ground if we don’t stop to take care of ourselves. Thanks, Erin!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You go, girl! That bag will be there tomorrow, too. Enjoy your new car.
    (She said while sitting at the dining table with two bags on notebooks to grade tonight.) Thanks for setting a good example.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This will resonate with so many of us. Realizing that we put undue pressure on ourselves is the first step. The real magic is in the moments in the classroom- not sitting with a pile of papers. My wish is for your continued progress toward balance. We are all works in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hooray for you! I am always amazed by those teachers who don’t carry a bag! How do they do that? Well, they’re not English teachers for starters – but still! Hope you enjoyed your guilt-free night!

    Liked by 1 person

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