As the rains hit our land and I can sense the unspoken appreciation of our animals, grass, and trees concerning the long-anticipated need for water, I sit here on day three of the unofficial holiday I have aptly named “Pajama Days”. While I am watching the rain fall steadily on the back pond, I am trying to ascertain whether or not it has slowly and imperceptibly begun to fill with the water we so desperately need. The awareness that has crept into my mind in recent years about the importance of the weather has been astonishing. It is crystal clear to me now why all of the older people in America are so fascinated with the weather. When you live in the country, your livelihood literally lives or dies by the weather. If it rains, your pond is full and your animals have water. If it rains, your crops and grass grow and your family and animals have food. Conversely, if it doesn’t rain, neither of these dire needs are met and it causes hard decisions to be made concerning animals and crops.
What exactly do Pajama Days look like on Green Acres? Well, pajamas are involved, of course, along with not wearing makeup or washing my hair for days on end. ( I honestly don’t know why I am admitting to any of that because it is starting to sound like Bum Days instead of Pajama Days!) The activities include talking on the phone to friends, reading books I haven’t had time to read during the busy school year, planning get-togethers with friends, and writing blogs and never-ending lists of ideas concerning a myriad of things. All of these activities can be achieved, of course, while sitting under soft blankets in my king-sized bed and looking out at the rain as it descends upon our farm.
As I sit here in my pajamas looking out at our pond, I think about the things God knew about me when He created me and the details He worked out concerning my career. Yes, there are many, many ways God has provided for me concerning my family, friends, and farm; however, He also knew me well enough to know that, as a people lover and life-long teacher, I was going to need breaks in my schedule to allow myself days of rest and recuperation. When I decided to become a teacher as an extremely decisive seven-year-old well over four decades ago, I didn’t even remotely consider the fact that, as an added gift, I would be given each summer off to do whatever I wish. It is probably hard for most people to believe that it was not even a part of the equation for me as I headed into my teaching career over thirty years ago.
All I could think about was the joy I would feel while teaching young people all of the things I loved learning about in school. Because school was a total joy and pleasure for me the entire way through, I couldn’t wait to make my students feel the same way. After thirty years in the classroom, I am praying and hoping that I have made my students love learning and look forward to coming to school each day. Thankfully, many of my students have affirmed that for me over the years and I have an entire tub full of sweet notes, cards, and pictures they have made for me telling me that they have, indeed, felt all that I had hoped and more over the years. This is not why I am writing this blog although it has been such a blessing to receive the unexpected, sweet notes from my students each year. God knew me so well and knew that I would love on my students so hard during the school year that I would be exhausted and ready for a break each summer. Honestly, the fact that people even suggest a year-round school calendar shows me that they have never stepped foot into a classroom as a teacher. The energy that is spent each day as a teacher is comparable to that of a performer on stage. Except it lasts all day, every day during the school year. There is no break in the performances. The show must go on.
So, back to what God did. He created summer. For teachers. You all think it is for students, but I can assure you that summer is also a vital time for teachers to regroup, recharge their batteries, rethink their curriculum and classroom management systems, and rewrite their lesson plans whether it is on paper or merely in their minds. Just this morning, I spent some time looking over the curriculum for the new grade level I will be teaching next year. Since I switched grade levels with a friend who wanted to move to a higher grade level, I decided to look over exactly what I was going to be teaching next year. As soon as I saw the topics I would be teaching, my brain began planning lessons and thinking about how I would conduct each day in my classroom. It was fun to picture my as-of-yet-unknown students doing interesting assignments concerning each topic as I looked through the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that will be covered in my 6th grade classroom next year.
Another aspect of Pajama Days on Green Acres is catching up with my friends and family. As a mother and teacher, it is so difficult to want to even talk to ANYONE at the end of each day. The entire day is spent teaching, reteaching, and repeating yourself ad infinitum to dozens of students and it is really hard to muster up the desire to make or return phone calls at the end of each day. I constantly feel guilty because I get texts and voicemail messsages throughout the school year from my friends who are stay-at-home moms and wives and, many times, I just can’t bring myself to return calls to even the people I love the very most in this world. Enter in summer. God knows how much I love these people and want to hear their voices, catch up with their lives, and encourage them in any way I can so He has given me an entire summer to make that happen. Thankfully, my friends are completely understanding and loving about this and frequently leave messages that tell me not to worry if we can’t talk soon and that they know we will catch up soon during the summer. Thank you, God, for their loving understanding of my brain. If not for that, I’m pretty sure they would have given up on me by now, but I am eternally grateful for their loving patience!
Pajama Days also includes organizing my thoughts on paper. I have dozens of Google documents organizing items as varied as lists of our current animals along with key information about each animal, our family schedule and plans for the summer, new plans and ideas for teaching, ideas for get-togethers with our friends and families, decorating ideas for our farmhouse, and Christmas gift ideas that I keep track of throughout the year. The time spent on our farm in solitude over the past couple of weeks has afforded me with plenty of time to get my thoughts on paper in a more organized format than the thoughts that so haphazardly swirl around in my mind throughout the school year. This may seem a little over the top, but I also plan out our family weekends when I know we will all be home together. I jot down meal and snack ideas, possible towns and restaurants to visit, and fun things to do on Green Acres. Whether it is driving the golf cart around, making muscadine jelly, or hosting a nightly Shrek or Lord of the Rings marathon, I am always glad that I have planned the activities out because, most of the time, we have checked off many of the items on my list by the end of the weekend before everyone has to head separate ways. I also do this for all major holidays as well and post it on our kitchen cabinet for everyone to peruse during their stay at the farm. The list is completely flexible and only provides a backdrop to what everyone wants or needs to do while they are here. It has certainly been scrapped many times due to intense homework projects or a strong need for rest on the parts of one or more of our children as they escape their busy school schedules for a weekend at home.
For me, the verse below is what Pajama Days on Green Acres is truly all about. Reflection on His goodness and grace. Thankfulness for all He has done.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)