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Thoughts from the Junk Drawer: Lesson #3 Egg Timer

Egg Timer Time has a way of changing what is important.

In June of 2008 I was looking for a new teaching job. It was hard because I loved the teaching job that I had. It was at a small  private school that gave me a lot of creative license with my class and encouraged me to grow professionally. Unfortunately, when you get your teaching certificate you have five years to clear it with the state before it expires. Clearing it is a two year process and in 2008 I only had two years left to complete the program in the public school system. It was time to go.

This started the process of working on my resume, collecting letters of recommendation, and of course applying to school districts. I remember being so nervous! To complete the story here is what I wrote on June 2008 (with a little editing to make it more clear):

Arm wrestle? "Now that's more like it!"

I have alluded to the fact that some pretty significant life changes are happening for me right now. I am looking for a new job. The interview process for teachers is nightmarish. I have sent several application packets out. (Notice I didn't say just resumes. They want to know everything about you before even meeting you. So yes, I put together a memoir and sent it out to all the districts in my area.)

Not getting a call back on my memoir is well, disheartening. Perhaps, I can publish it if the whole new job thing doesn't pan out. I am tempted to add a DVD of how excited Rio gets to see me when I come home. (This should be reference enough; at least my dog loves me).

I do, finally, get a call back from one district. I go for an interview (Interview defined: Several teachers and principals sitting in a U shape. Me at the top of the U. Rapid fire questioning). They love me. I am confident. They ask me to do a demo lesson for them. (That is district code for: Come to a classroom full of kids you don't know, teach them something you made up. We will stand at the back of the room with our clipboards taking notes).

They are, again with the loving me. We will get back to you. Over a month later and phone calls from me, still no getting back to me.

New district. Another call back. Again with the questioning. Not so much with the love, more with the pen tapping, looking at the clock, and even full yawn. No call for demo.

Hubby is sensing my discouragement and gets flowers and a card saying I should come and work in his district. He knows a teacher there (him!) with a crush on me and a cute butt.

New district, (it’s Hubby's!) I get another call back. Cell phone drops the call! Mortified. I call back from a land line. She understands about the cell phone, laughs and says it’s like a cell phone commercial. I go in for the interview with two nice ladies. Not so much with the rapid fire questioning or ominous pen tapping, and much more with smiling.

I leave not exactly confident but relieved it is over. I get called again. No need for demo. The H.R. lady says that two nice ladies from earlier are about to arm wrestle for me and thought that before they do they should ask me what grade level I would prefer.

(WHAT!!!????) I tell her what I prefer (Although, any grade would be fine). I get called the next day and officially offered the job! Yeah! Just one problem. They still haven't agreed on who will get me. That's the kind of problem I like to have.

Hubby says, "Principals arm wrestling for you, now that's more like it!" The superintendent gets to make the final say now. He should use the wisdom of King Solomon and offer to cut me in half. Whoever spares my life gets to keep me.

So, I have a job in Hubby's district and 'they like me, they really like me.' Now to find out more about this cute guy who is crushing on me! So good to be married to him!

I am so glad that it I ended up in the same district that Ryan works in. We even ended up moving to that same city. At that point in our lives as a couple we were learning a lot about time and our use of it.

A few years before we had bought a home that on a good traffic day is an hour and half away from where we are now. We had a plan to move our life out there and drop the commute. Moving a life is hard. We could have found jobs out there and a new church. We could have started building a community of people around us but that would take time. Our families would visit and we could visit them but we were missing them.

Somehow, we couldn’t make the transition. We got stuck in this limbo place where we were commuting back and forth. We were spending about four hours a day together in the car on the days we commuted or finding a place to stay with friends and family when we couldn’t face the drive. We have a lot stories from that time in our life and we learned a lot.

One of our main lessons was that we wanted a simple life, where the majority of our time was spent on what matters to us most, people. In short, the commute didn’t fit into the plan we had for our familyand the place that we bought the house wasn’t where we ultimately wanted to live.

One story that comes to mind from our major commuting days. I can almost hear the wheels turning in my head as I was pondering the topic of time and how we use it.

Written in 2005:

The Trumpeter

I thought of the how much was left undone, how much I had to do. I thought of what I would do if I could be free of this car, if I weren’t so often in transitions of one kind or another.Commuting was to become a routine and it is often in the routines that life is lost. Aristotle said, “the unexamined life is not worth living." Who examines the routines of life, themundane? Who can cause a car ride to have any meaning or purpose beyond transport?

I wish I could say I pondered deep thoughts on this particular ride, but truly my mind was quickly skipping from one task that needed completion to the next at the same rhythm we were switching lanes. It was then that the trumpeter played.

The sound was strange. It was not one of your usual freeway sounds: the rush of cars, the honking of horns, the bellowing of rigs, the screeching of tires, and the grinding of metal.No, this sound was unique. I couldn’t put a name to it but my eyes began to hunt for the cause of it, desperate for some interruption. It was then that I saw a man in the car beside us playing a trumpet.

He played with one hand, his cheeks stretching to white balloons on either side of his pursed mouth while his fingers tapped out the supposed tune. His dark brown eyes crinkled on the edges showing his delight. He sounded like a sick and desperate elephant on the edge of life. It was quite a shocking spectacle. My manners required that I not stare but this was beyond what I could demand of etiquette and I stared, gawked actually.

After the initial shock wore off I began to laugh. I laughed deeply till tears came to my eyes. That’s when Hun looked at me in much the same way I looked at the man. There is a trumpeter I blurted out over giggles, pointing indiscriminately. The man was still beside us trumpeting away happily oblivious to the fact that he was on a freeway, oblivious to the fact that he should be bitterly fighting his way home. He was free. Perhaps he is a little scary to share a road with, maybe he should focus less on music practice and a little more on driving technique, but there he was not letting a moment be wasted. He was not allowing his life to be overrun by mundane activity. He engaged in creative endeavors while managing to get home. I was jealous of him. He escaped commuting while remaining in the car.

He may have lost his mind. Sure it will be a traffic law someday: Right next to ‘no cell phones.’ No music practice. He fully lives. He is free. He is brilliant, maybe.

I would like to start by pointing out that in 2005 I called it on the cell phone law. So far no musical instruments law. I don't advocate distracted driving, but I do admire him making the most of the time he had. If you could see the faces of the other drivers on the road that day you would see a lot of grumpy people, including me. Commuting doesn't bring out the best in people for the most part. That's why I admire the trumpeter.

So these days we live in the same city that we work in. This kept our time apart to a minimum when we were both working and now that I am home with Riley, it makes sharing the car easier. Ryan can ride his bike when I need the car. We have a great community of people around us and can get to them pretty quickly. There are loved ones that are further out, and we miss seeing them regularly, but our simple life style makes the occasional longcar ride easy to face during vacation times.

I don't remember our last commute together but that season in our life is over. There was no beeping or alarm sounding marking the end of that season; it just ended. I am glad that that season is over but it is a little scary that it is over without fanfare. It ended without us even noticing.

This got me thinking of other things that have ended or changed without us noticing. When Riley was first born he had the cutest little lip quiver. Everything about him I thought was the cutest, and still do, but when that little lip would get going everyone would oooh and awww. I couldn't help but point it out to any one standing nearby when he was doing it.

I thought he was cold but the doctor told me that it was a sign of his developing nervoussystem. It wouldn't last forever. Sure enough months had gone by and I didn't even realize that he wasn't doing it anymore. I was over at a girl friend's house and she said, "Look, his little lip is quivering." He was a little chilled but it reminded me of when he was a newborn.

It's like a little timer went off in his body saying no more lip quiver. The timer was silent, not like an egg timer demanding attention. I didn't even know that the moment had passed until I was months beyond it. I miss it and wished I could see it again. No fear, I am not icing down my baby to see that cute little quiver.

Not long ago, I was at a family picnic with my aunt. She was telling me how earlier in the week her teenage children gathered around her to listen to her read a story. I could just see her face beaming as she was telling us how they snuggled around her to listen. This was such a nice moment for her children that one of them even mentioned it on facebook.

I know that she read bedtime stories to her children but I bet she couldn't name the time that they stopped wanting one. Where was the timer? Without warning season's change. That is why this little impromptu reading session was so precious to her, a little glimmer of the past that she didn’t even remember was missing.

It seems like little timers are going off all the time but we can't hear them. It has been said so many times that we just don't know how much time we have. This usually referring to the amount of time we have to live. This is so true we really don't know that. It is healthy to have respect for that and not take our or anyone else's life for granted.

Also understand that you don't know how much time you have in a season of life, good or bad. It is so easy to miss the end. I wanted so bad to stop commuting and once it was over, I barley remember it being over. Thankfully, I can take some good life lessons from that time in my life.

I also learned just how much I love my husband. If we can get through a four hour commute on a regular basis and still come out laughing on the other side, that's love. Hopefully, it's a sign that we can get through the trials we will face.

Season's in life can be short or long, good or bad. It is generally your attitude toward the circumstance that determines the later. I remember driving with Ryan to work one morning after our commuting days were, thankfully, over. When we arrived in only fifteen minutes, I remember being sad about not having more time to chat with him. I wish I had been more aware during our commuting days how good it was to get uninterrupted hours of talking with Ryan.

We like to keep track of things according to time. Time can be motivating. I sometimes set the timer for twenty minutes and quickly get as much done around the house as I can in that time. I can often get as much done in that short burst of time as I can all day without that concentrated time of cleaning. Some of my best work in college was done during a time crunch.

Sometimes with motherhood I forget there is a time crunch. I see years upon years laying out before me and miss the silent timers going off around me. Even today as I am thinking about this, my son began rolling all over the rug. Wasn't it just yesterday that I could put him down on a little blanket with a few toys? If he just rolled over once, that would be a big deal. Now he is mobile, I just don't know if he is aware that he controls the direction he goes. That is another timer for another day.

While, I don't want parenthood to feel like the constant pressure of being on a deadline or the constant ticking of a timer, I want to be aware of the time and all the little moments that I have with my son. This job is so hard at times. It may feel like my commute from earlier. No escape or change of pace seems to be in sight. When you feel that way about it you are trapped and miserable. I have something to learn from the trumpeter. He was making the most of a hard situation. I couldn't ask him if he was enjoying himself but the look on his face said he was.

I want to enjoy myself too and when my son looks at my face I want him to see that and know he is the reason.

Riley Boy,

I can't believe how fast you are growing up. You change a little more each day. I am excited to be your mom. I know that someday you might see me in a moment of frustration and not at my best. Know that I love you and the time I get to spend with you is so precious to me. The stages of our journey might change but the way I feel about you will not.


From the Series:

Thoughts from the Junk Drawer: Lesson #1 Permanent Markers

Thoughts from the Junk Drawer: Lesson #2 Old Toothbrush

Friday Mourning

Thoughts from the Junk Drawer: Lesson #2 Old Toothbrush