In the last two days, I have had conversations with my two eldest sons. Both were good conversations, full of love and care, but have left me with a broken heart.
Both have young families, and one has a baby due any day. Both are in situations where they are trying desperately to keep their families safe and healthy. Both could REALLY use help in the next weeks. However, I am back teaching high school in a hybrid model, and thus, I am no longer "safe" and by extension neither is my husband.
I love seeing my students face to face, even if I only see them like this 2 days a week. They are marvelous students. Every time I walk into their classroom (yes, the same group of kids stay together all day...we teachers move. So yes, I am living off a cart), my heart sings. After a day of teaching remotely for 2 blocks, it renews me to teach face to face. I cannot stress how much I love being in a classroom with them. It would (will?) be so difficult if I ever have to go back to full remote teaching.
One of my sons said, "Mom, you can't leave teaching right now. You can't even go remote if they offered it to you when kids are still in school."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because for some of your kids, you are the only light in their lives. The only one who can focus on them and let them know how much they matter...even if it is only twice a week. Yes, this sucks for our family and for you and Dad, but our kids have us and they know how much you love them."
But I love and miss my grandchildren with an ache that physically hurts. One of my sons and his little family lived with us during the worst of the pandemic. His wife was (is) pregnant but was having horrible "morning" sickness which lasted 24-7. He was stretched to his limit trying to take care of a 16 mo. old, a wife who felt wretched, and work full time from home.
"Could we come live with you guys if we all quarantine for 2 weeks first?" And so began a wonderful adventure of communal living that lasted for several months. We got to spend SO much time with them and we became very important to their son. "Pa" (grandpa) became a god to our grandson. Now we can't see them at all except via video call.
I can do a lot of self care when I get overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do on a daily basis just to do a half-assed job of teaching. I have never worked so hard or put in so many hours. But I KNOW how to say, "Enough! Go take a walk, listen to a book, putter around the gardens!"
I do not know how to do self care for a broken heart.