Struggling to explain long division to a classroom of bored fifth-graders, I stole a quick glance at the wall clock.
Three more hours ‘till the bell rings!
Yep, as a substitute teacher, I probably watched the clock more than any of the 25 antsy ten and eleven-year-olds in my classroom. While the kids tackled their math problems, I daydreamed of that 15-minute catnap I planned to take once home.
At least my lunch break is next, I encouraged myself.
Then, sipping my soup, I sat silently admiring my full-time coworkers who work not just twice a week, but everyday, minus a few scattered holidays and personal days.
I got tired just listening to one teacher’s hectic after-school schedule. “Let’s see“….Joan muttered, reviewing her Day Planner… "Yearbook meeting…… Groceries…..Take Brian to soccer…, Marcia to Brownies…...Pay bills….Make dinner…. Laundry…Grade tests….”
Remembering the days when I had two active children of my own to cart around, I was thankful for my now empty nest and that my schedule had, at least, slowed down. But even though my nest is now empty, I still work only part-time.
Then there’s my sister-in-law, only a few years younger than me, who’s also a teacher and the mother of five. Recently earning her Master’s degree, she’s one busy lady. What’s more, she’s also the queen of hospitality, thinking nothing of throwing a colossal dinner party in her “free” time.
Me? I panic whenever I have anyone over for dinner other than my own family. However, being married to an old-fashioned guy who watches “Leave it to Beaver” reruns, I do turn out a home-cooked (yet simple) meal almost every night, although I’m no June Cleaver.
But still….Something has to be wrong with me! Why do I need more space than most people?
Let’s face it----I’m just not one of those Type A women who just keep running with back-to-back activities. I’m nothing like my Type A, friend, Sharon, who not only has a full-time executive position, but then on Saturday morning shows up at 7:30 AM to a church council meeting. This super mom even answers her e-mails at midnight. Thanks to her midnight e-mails, we’ve remained, at least, online friends.
And surprisingly, I’ve found that Type As can also question if the “grass is greener on the other side of the street.” I remember how another Type A lady shared how she sometimes wishes she could slow down. One day in Sunday school, this woman, who chairs several committees and still works even though she’s in her mid-60s, confessed how she used to wish she could be more like her retired sister who enjoys her needlecrafts and mid-morning coffee klatches.
Yet, she admitted, “When I spent a weekend with my sister last fall, I almost went stir-crazy.” (As she described how her sister loves to spend hours visiting, writing, cross stitching and knitting, I thought she was talking about me.)
Then, there’s my good friend, Bonnie. We’ve known each for the past six years, but didn’t become close friends until our grocery store encounter three years ago.
One Monday morning while shopping, I spotted her in the cereal aisle. Panicking, I thought, I can’t be seen here at 10 AM…along with the local senior citizens and young mothers....What’s my excuse? Women my age are making important decisions at work, not choosing cereal brands.
Embarrassed, I wheeled my shopping cart to the snack aisle. But, God allowed out baskets to collide in frozen foods.
“Oh hi!” I said, trying to be thrilled I ran into her. “Well, there weren’t any good sub jobs today so….”
“Hey, it’s okay!” She stopped me before I could even think of more excuses. “You don’t have to explain.”
I soon learned she needs her space, too. Also an empty-nester, she works part-time as a nurse, three days a week, but shared that she, too struggles with the haunting thought, “Am I lazy?”
We agreed to socialize over Friday morning walks, whenever we didn’t have to work, and needless to say, I’ve been blessed by her friendship since that day at the supermarket.
And, yes, there are times when we still wonder if we’re lazy and if we should have less space in our lives. But then, we realize that God made us all different, and we don’t have to copy our Type A sisters.
After all, if we didn’t need more space, we probably never would have become good friends.
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