This happens every year. I wait and wait and wait for Spring Break. Every year I think it will feel relaxing. I expect to return to school feeling rejuvenated. In my 12 years of teaching, that has yet to happen. I'm not sure why I continue to expect it will. In reality, I just trade one form of exhaustion for another.
I've hit my threshold. As much as I crave people and interaction, even for me, the often insatiable extrovert, I have a threshold. My days -- all days -- are full of people. And I love them. I appreciate them. I value them. But I've reached a point where I need (dare I say it?) alone time. My classroom is an extension of me. But this semester I'm privileged (incredibly privileged) to host a student teacher who is wonderful. However, it means the space, the one space in my life that I have the ability to occupy alone for long stretches of time, is not empty. It is shared. All aspects of my life right now are shared -- the drive to work, my school day, the drive home, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, my bed, my trip to the bathroom (I love my children so much, but seriously. Can I pee alone, just once? Can the story wait?). It's all occupied. And even on the rare occasion when I share companionable silence, it's still companionable, still shared.
So today I hit the threshold. I can't hold any more. And people all day have asked me what's wrong. It's hard to say. I need alone time. I'm grateful in moments like this that my husband is an introvert. He understands without me needing to explain. I know I shouldn't feel guilty. (I do. I always do.). I can say to him: I've hit it. I've hit my threshold. I need alone time. He's heard it so rarely -- maybe once a year or so -- that he knows how much I need it when I finally utter the extrovert's hardest words. And he's there. He takes over.
So tonight I came home from school earlier than usual, alone. I folded laundry. I sat in silence. I drank a glass of wine slowly and without interruption. I talked on the phone for a bit (an event which, though connected to another person, is surprisingly wonderful when you're not also putting out a thousand fires).
And tonight I'm taking myself to a movie. Alone. My favorite way to see a movie. I'm trying to take care of myself tonight. It isn't something that comes terribly naturally. It's hard to give up the guilt. But I know that the few hours I give to myself will replenish. I'll come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to be there for the ones I love. I'll graciously and willingly share my spaces. But tonight, just for a few hours, I'm going to be selfish. I'm going to refill. I'm going to enjoy the quiet.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow will be for everyone else. Tonight is for me. I'll savor it. I'll be better for it.