Season of Sacrifice

The seat on the porch swing sits empty. The dishes in the sink stand tall.

It seems like I’ve not looked you in the eyes for days.

It is the “season of sacrifice.” Tina Boogren, author of Take Time for You: Self-Care Action Plans for Educators, is the one who named this for me. It is the time of the year where our back-to-school efforts take nearly everything we’ve got. And we—and the people we love—often feel like we have nothing left.

It took me years to find a name for it, took me longer to anticipate its return, and I find that—twenty years into this profession—the universe still uses each season to remind me:

  • It is just that: a season. It does not last forever. Sometimes it comes in quietly, a few hours, then days at a time; other times it comes in like an end-of-summer-storm, building quickly and casting a lasting wake to ride out.
  • It is not the end of summer, not really. Summer stretches into September, so we can still enjoy a late sunset (if we are still awake), a porch sit (if we can stay awake), and a nap at the lake long after the pools have closed and the hummingbirds have abandoned the feeders.
  • It is also not the end of anything else. I have to remind myself weeknights and weekends will eventually feel like mine again, and there will be more than enough time (over time) to put together the last cabinet, to finish the walls, to plumb a sink and a toilet, to install a door, to finish the project for which it feels like I ran out of time. Yes, there is (or will be) time still to get it done, even if it means it has to wait until the next break or (gasp!) even next summer.
  • Sacred, not sacrificed. I can be intentional with what things I am willing and able to sacrifice and those that I hold sacred. The dishes can wait. The laundry will last. But my exercise routine makes me feel better, stronger, and more present in all the rest of my life. And I’ll still give it all up for time spent snuggling, even if there is an algebra book between us on the bed. There are some things simply not eligible for sacrifice.

So, yes, the porch swing sits empty. For now. The dishes stand tall. Until later. The kitchen table catches the clutter of weeks’ worth of mail and tools and other things that won’t get put away. Yet.

My minutes and hours devoted to the things that rise to the top of the list: Like this algebra homework splayed across the coffee table. Like a glass of water and a good trip to the barre. Like this slice and sense of community. Like sleep and sunshine.

‘Tis the season.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda Funk says:

    I’m heading into year four of retirement and still feel this back to school season. The summer flew by, didn’t it. I love the tone of your post; it’s sublime and calm, the opposite, I think, of this time of year. Saturday I told a former student who will be teaching her first class as a first year teacher tomorrow, to expect to be tired—all the time, and to take time for herself. The papers awaiting grading will not spontaneously combust over the weekend. I hope she finds a barre, whatever form that takes, to workout the new teacher stress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morgan Davis says:

      It reminds me of having a newborn. Tired all the time! Yes! And yet we get through it and go back again year after year!


  2. cmargocs says:

    I LOVE Boogren’s 180 Days book; it truly supported me last school year, as I read it one weekly task at a time. I’m revisiting the weekly themes this year (this week for me is “Nutrition and Hydration”–always a good nudge.) I’ve felt so off these past few weeks–thanks for the reminder that this is simply a season, and that I can always reset.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this slice. Such good advise. I love how you structured it with bold and bullets and ended with such hope. You have me thinking about what is being sacrified and what I need to intentionally honor as sacred. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. the reentry always feels a little abrupt. I love the leisurely time to do laundry and run the vacuum while also having a whole weekend. You’re right though, we can get through the busier times and hold on to those things that fill us up. I like to think that I’m going to keep onto my summer feeling longer this year by tapping into what it teaches me about myself. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A. Shruti says:

    Such an optimistic take! I loved your stating, “it is just that: a season.” and that it’s “sacred, not sacrificed.” This too shall pass but it’s always exciting meeting students after the break!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pfornale says:

    I share your sense of season. This particular moment each year has a particular feeling about it. You have an astute manner of bringing familiar words into this context.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. amyilene says:

    I love how you captured this ubiquitous feeling!


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