07/23/2014 01:55 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2014

Doing the Best We Can

Shannon Styles

We are wrapping up the first month of summer vacation and I just came out of my month-long hibernation/slumber/fog of recovering from the past 10 months. This year was a tough one. With all of the changes both at school and at home, and a schedule change that threw our family for a loop, we barely made it through some days. But, I did the best I could. Some days, my best was making it to the bathroom during 12th period without peeing my pants a little bit. Some days, my best was finding the shirt my son was looking for in the first laundry basket rather than the fourth. Some days, my kids at school got the best of me, while my kids at home got the scraps. Some days, my dog was the only one who got the best of me.

But I did the best I could.

My boys got on the bus with their teeth brushed, wearing clean clothes, their homework done, lunches in their bags every morning. My daughter was a trooper and was awake by 5:40 so we could leave for school by 6:30. I was greeting and high-fiving and teaching by 7:15 (well sometimes 7:20... 7:25). I taught, disciplined, encouraged, laughed, disciplined, intervened and pulled my hair out until 3:00 and then I crashed. I crashed HARD. Like, passed out, slumped over, drooling, snoring, dead asleep for 20 minutes in the preschool parking lot before going in to get my daughter every afternoon. That type of crash.

And then I was on for the rest of the night. I was dealing with after school-hungry-tired-I-don't-want-to-do-my-homework-I-only-want-to-watch-TV-and-I'm-going-to-yell-at-my-brother-and-sister-if-they-talk-to-me, homework, dinner, cleaning up, hockey/basketball/baseball practice, packing lunches, signing forms that I was supposed to send back three weeks ago and now had THIRD NOTICE highlighted at the top, playing Old Maid and Uno so I didn't feel like I was completely ignoring my kids (which I was because there is just so much TO DO BEFORE BED), and oh hi, husband! How was your day, hon? Sorry you're walking into this disaster and can you just throw the laundry in the dryer OK I'll have a real conversation with you in five years, bedtime, picking out clothes for the next morning that will be here in just seven short hours, and then looking at the bag of papers that needed to be graded but I knew I'd only get through three before falling asleep and that poor kid would have a random red zigzag line on his paper from me falling asleep while reading it.

But I did the best I could.

And I constantly felt like I was failing. I was failing at being a teacher because I was too busy being a mom. I was failing at being a mom because I was too busy being a teacher. I was failing at marriage because it was easy to put that last. I was failing at writing because I was busy parenting and teaching. I was failing at parenting and teaching because I was busy writing. My husband got lost in the shuffle when he really needed a partner.

And then I got lost in the shuffle because I really needed me.

I felt tired and I looked tired. I bought better makeup and felt guilty about spending money on better makeup. I fit in exercise when I could and then felt guilty about leaving to go exercise. I was exhausted from exercising at 9:00. I ate chocolate and drank too much coffee. I gained a few pounds from the chocolate and coffee. I fit in another exercise class and felt guilty about that. I lost weight. I still felt exhausted. I still felt guilty. I still felt like I didn't know where I fit in, but I knew where everybody else did.

But I did the best I could.

My story is not unique to me. I'm sure many moms and dads, working or not, feel this way throughout the school year. The constant hurry and rush to get from one day to the next.

My goal is to not rush this summer. No hurrying out of the house, no "Come on, come on, we're late!" no constant glancing at the clock.

September can wait.

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