Morning Margin



I happily taught my class of seventeen kindergarteners, relishing my time with them, despite the oppressively hot classroom.


I heard the main office secretary call me over my intercom and I picked up the phone. She wanted to know if I wanted to fill in for a tutor the next day. Feeling an unnecessary wave of guilt, I declined, saying, “I really want to be home tomorrow to get my house and self back together.”  She accepted that without question, but I still felt bad.


My guilt was eased when I talked to the sub who did accept the job at lunchtime.



I happily went through my evening routine and I heard my phone vibrate.


With some hesitation, I glanced at the screen:


Preferred Sub Request


My stomach dropped.


I have a love/hate relationship with preferred sub requests. On the one hand, it feeds my need to be liked and appreciated quite well.  I can’t deny that I feel a rush of pride every time I realize that a teacher actually WANTS me to come back and sub for them again. It makes me happy. It makes me feel like I’m doing a good job.


But the flip-side is that I feel a strong obligation to be there. I don’t want to disappoint. I never want to let anyone down. And, let’s be honest– I also don’t want to risk losing my “preferred” status.


Anyway, I saw the preferred sub request and I started fretting. Should I go in, even though I had vowed not to? I mean– I didn’t *really* have any critical appointments the next day…


I decided to stalk the job and make sure it got picked up once it was opened to the general sub pool– it did. I let out a sigh of relief.




I had told the office secretary that I needed to get stuff done around my own house– that wasn’t a lie.


But it was not, perhaps, the biggest reason of all that I had for not working outside the home today.


For the most part, I would say I am one of those people who is a better wife and mom when I get out and substitute teach. For me, all those interactions with people just fill me with joy and make me a happier, more fulfilled individual. I truly love the time I spend in the classroom and, frankly, in the break room.


I. Love. People.




You knew there was a but, right?


The pure and honest truth is that, sometimes, those mornings of getting myself and three little people all ready and out the door really wear on me. They’re a good bunch of kids, for the most part, but they’re not all early birds and I sometimes feel like it’s the biggest project of the day just to get EVERYONE dressed, fed, packed up, and out the door.


And I lose my temper.


I get frustrated.


I can’t see how this can be so difficult, no matter how well *I* plan things.


But, if I take away the piece of getting myself all ready to go, it eases the burden. I have some extra minutes. I can use those minutes to help the pokey one get stuff done or just to go to a quiet place and breathe through my agitation.


I have margin.


And so, though substitute teaching adds mostly joy and light and satisfaction to my days, every now and again, it’s good for me to just say, “No, thank you,” and focus on getting a better grip on a happier morning.


One with a little morning margin.


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