Coming back from Winter Break (or any of our fabulous vacations) can be a challenge. Adjusting our routines and bodies back to our school schedules and preparing lunch the night before are two of the things I hate to do following a long break. I always find myself awake at 11:30 pm the night before school, thinking about what I'm going to do for lunch the next day. (There are not very many good lunch options in the neighborhood I work in).
This winter break however, I was on my game. I went to bed at a reasonable hour only AFTER packing my lunch. Nice.
I really didn't feel any back to school drag until I was back at school. On Monday morning we found out that one of the teachers in our department had passed away the night before. She had been struggling with cancer for a long time, was in remission and had relapsed in the last year. She was still working the first day of the week of winter break, and then she was out. Apparently she declined very fast. When the principal made the announcement over the PA system, he applauded her for her 19 years of service to our school, and how she "worked til the end". I enjoy my job, but to be perfectly honest "working til the end" sounds absolutely miserable.
Occasionally I take a sick day, some days I am sick, others I am just exhausted and need a day. Most days I am absent however, I feel guilty about. I wonder if this feeling of guilt is what pushed this woman to work until the end of her life, when she probably should have spent more time recuperating and healing at home.
It's difficult not to feel guilty when absent. Sometimes I feel as if teachers are seen as super humans who have no other relationships besides the one in the building they work in and who have excellent immune systems that go unchallenged by the many germs they come into contact with on a daily basis.
One of my work related goals this year will be to take off when I need off, WITHOUT feeling bad about it.