Commuting

My commute to work used to be 10 minutes by car. Now, it takes me about 35 minutes. If this were the GTA, 35 minutes would be merely peanuts. But in the Kingston area, 35 minutes often means you’re in a whole other world.

There are definitely pros and cons to this arrangement. Let me outline a few of them.

Pro: I get to listen to podcasts.
This was probably the thing that excited me most about my longer commute. I am terribly behind in my podcast queue and this has helped.

Con: The gas.
I used to fill up maybe twice a month. Now I fill up about twice a week.

Pro: The drive is scenic.
About 15 minutes of my drive is in town/on the highway. The remaining 20 minutes is straight up a county road until I get to my school. I slow down exactly two times, as I pass through two small towns. Only one of those towns requires me to stop at a stop sign.

Con: I get sleepy sometimes.
35 minutes is not an insignificant amount of time. One morning, I was really tired driving in, and to make sure I made it to school alive, I had to stop at a country store to pick up a shot of caffeine. I found it in the form of a Starbucks frappucino drink. It was mostly sugar.

It’s only been two weeks, but the drive is starting to grow on me. I find myself becoming more familiar with the landmarks I pass, and I’m starting to be able to list off the roads that come and go.  I pass the same black Q5 on my way to and from work (they head in the opposite direction), and occasionally I find myself right behind my colleagues who are also driving from town. I look forward to driving up the hill to the school parking lot and to walking down the hall to my little corner of the school. This is my new normal.

Random aside: we have the most amazing schoolyard.

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Thoughts on returning to work

Man, that one year of maternity leave flew by.

Though I was mentally ready to return to work, I think emotionally (leaving my sick child) and physically (jet lagged), I was not. I’ve moved into a new position, so I’m teaching kindergarten in a rural school about 35 min from where we live. Due to inclement weather, I was only at work 3 out of 5 days last week. Plus, the woman whose role I’m taking over is still around until March Break. It’s close to being the most ideal situation possible. 

Teaching kindergarten is quite different from being up with the intermediates. My time is spent doing different things, and my attention is and responses need to be sensitive to different needs.  I’m thinking about sound skills and blends and things I haven’t had to think of too much over the last few years. It’s really very refreshing. 

With Andy’s erratic sleep schedule and a higher than usual number of evening commitments, I haven’t had much time to really rest, but it is amazing to see what a difference this is already when it comes to work/life balance. I’m planning more holistically and tying all the subjects into themes, and I know that I’m going to love what the rest of this year has in store. 

A Wife of Noble Character

I sometimes think of myself as a frenetic busybody who can merely aspire to a slower, more intentional life. True, I have uncharacteristic moments of thoughtful introspection. But it seems most of the time I am going at least 10 km/h above the speed limit (25 if we’re on the highway). Today, aided by some wise words in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I had an uncharacteristic aha! moment – a recognition that despite being on maternity leave, I am still thinking of myself as a worker first and a mother second.

Twitter chats. Courses. Reading. It seems I am moderately addicted to the accumulation of knowledge. Some might think of this as a good thing. But then I thought back to my time with Andy last night. It was somewhere between 7 pm and 8 pm (I know this, because I was trying to engage with both him and #engsschat). When I looked at him and talked with him, he gave me the biggest smiles. At the same time, I noticed he kept looking at the computer screen whenever I tried to type with one hand while holding something else in the other as a distraction. “What’s going on over there,” he must have been thinking, “and how come they’re more interesting than me?”

Now, I don’t want this post to come off as a “woe is me for being a terrible person” post, because I recognize that learning to incorporate a new area of identity is always difficult. But I do want to share a few of my inner thoughts.

Naturally, I gravitated towards Proverbs 31, the quintessential passage that all Christian wives tend to pick apart, analyze, and compare themselves to. I remember the first time reading it after I had gotten engaged. “Dang, this woman has totally got it together,” I thought to myself, “Is this even possible?” (It is, by the way – I am lucky to have met some amazing women who live out this passage). And though I would be lying if I said I’m not sometimes envious of these women, their togetherness, and their humility, I also try to remind myself to be gracious when it comes to my own shortcomings.

So here it is – Proverbs 31…with a few of my own thoughts.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

I am blessed in that I have an amazingly supportive husband. If you were to ask Kelvin whether he has full confidence in me, he would probably say yes, but this is possibly more a reflection of his good leadership than my inherent ability.

She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Not on good days. Not when she’s had a full night’s rest. ALL days. What about those days when I bring nothing at all?

She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

Diligent and connected. Aspiring to this.

She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

Okay, this is one I struggle with constantly. In the mornings, I have reverted to sleeping in again with Andy while he’s in our bed. Perhaps going to bed before 12:30 might help with this. Also need to do a better job – a much better job – of the whole providing food for my family. Having charcuterie plates for dinner are nice every so often, but not when they become the norm because I’m too lazy to get groceries and actually put some forethought into what we’re having for dinner.

She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Again with the diligence. And this woman is a savvy investor! When we were going through pre-marital counselling, we both said that I would deal with the finances. This has not turned out to be the case. Kelvin handles our investments, financing, and most of our credit cards, while I merely pay for some of our home utilities and one or two credit cards.

She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

I do work hard most of the time. But this accounts for only 2 lines out of 43.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

This woman is seriously hardworking. And has the home economics down.

She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.

Beyond just giving money to charity, this woman actually takes matters into her own hands and advocates for the marginalized. I am so often wrapped up in my own life that I do not give pause to issues that I really should care about.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

I need to learn to sew.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

In my actions, I need to consider also how this affects Kelvin’s reputation. He is really building something amazing with work and I need to support him in those things.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

Again with the sewing.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

This is perhaps the tallest order. Strength. Dignity. Foresight. Wisdom. Self-control. A combination of things that you don’t find in every 20-something. And these are things that take time to nurture.

She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

Though Andy is not old enough at this age to be able to “call me blessed”, I do hope that we have a really good relationship as he gets older. I want him to trust me, to know that he is loved, and to see me as someone who is an example to him – a good example. And this definitely starts with me spending more quality time with him. And sharing the things that are on my heart, and that I’m passionate about.

“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

And here’s the kicker. Fear of the Lord. My time spent with the spiritual disciplines is lacklustre, and I know that until this improves, my soul is not rich soil for the working of the Spirit, and thus I am not effective in the doing of God’s good works.

All this to say that I am reminded once again of how much more I have to strive for, but also how I am encouraged, knowing that I serve a gracious God who gives us new opportunities each day to draw near to Him.