Last Tuesday was bad, and Wednesday was worse. On Tuesday, the laptop that is my lifeline stopped connecting to the Internet, and the water to our apartment was shut off for no apparent reason. Hours after it came back on, the faucets were spewing orange gunk. In the afternoon I started back to exercise class (first time in six weeks, and I've been craving getting back in shape); I left in plenty of time, but the streetcars were agin' me, so I was ten minutes late. Clara had huge screaming meltdowns both at the beginning and end of the class. When we were all to introduce ourselves and say something pithy about motherhood and how it's changed our lives, I found myself blurting to a roomful of women that I'd been sleeping in baby shit because we hadn't remembered to change the sheets. Oddly enough, I was not invited along to the weekly kaffeeklatch after class. The cherry on the sundae had to be the new puppy across the hall, who yaps all the time. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap. You know those battery-operated dogs in shopping malls that go "Yap yap yap yap yap" and then pause to flip over? This one sounds exactly like that, but without the pauses. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP OH GOD PLEASE JUST SHUT UP.
(And the owner's on the condo board, and the dog [who is admittedly very cute] is a birthday gift for her painfully adolescent son. Sigh.)
On Wednesday, I stupidly agreed to teach an SAT class on Thursday night. Some other instructor couldn't make it, and I want to keep my hand in so that I'll still have at least one of my jobs when I'm ready to go back to work. I envisioned going to the exercise class in the afternoon, and then teaching in the evening. Later that night I remembered that Thursday was the beginning of the TESL Ontario conference, and that the plenary speaker was Jeremy Harmer, one of the most well-known and respected names in the field. He wrote the book used in my TESL training course, and I'd been planning to go to the conference since... well, since last year's conference. (I have to go to these to maintain my professional certification, and anyway, it's nice to find out about what's going on in ESL-land.)
The realization that I'd overscheduled myself was enough to turn me into a sobbing wreck. It's too early. I can't have both a profession and a child. I'm a bad mother because I'm selfish enough to want stuff outside the realm of the baby when she's only six weeks old. Lizard Brain went into overdrive and I cried for more than an hour. Mr. K loved on me and told me to go to the conference and skip the class, but I couldn't back out: I'd committed, and like I said, I want to keep this job. Finally I worked out a plan: I'd go to the plenary speech on Thursday, register for the sessions on Saturday when Mr. K could look after the baby, and go ahead and teach Thursday night's class. Six teenage boys, a soccer team from north of the city. Bozhe moi.
On Thursday morning, though, the tide changed. At 9:30 the courier arrived with the package of materials that I was to teach from. Shortly thereafter, I got onto the streetcar with Clara and rode over to the hotel where the conference was taking place, arriving ten minutes before the speech began. I ran into some of my former colleagues, who were thrilled to meet the baby (and happy to see me, too). Clara was quiet as a mouse for the whole speech, which was more than worthwhile. I then had lunch with two of my friends, and went home for a few hours to prepare for the class.
Soon Clara and I were on the streetcar again and then the subway, heading up to the end of the line, where Mr. K met us and drove us up to York University (site of the class), stopping for subs on the way. (I had forgotten to factor my dinner into the day's plans.) The boys were 15 minutes late, so I had a chance to eat and feed the baby before they arrived.
I was on. I got through the assigned material at a good pace, adding stuff I think important at the appropriate places, and managed to keep them as focussed as anyone can when high school boys are punchy, pubescent, and tired. Even as recently as last year the prospect of teaching a class like this would have alarmed me, but you know what? After an unmedicated labour and childbirth, dealing with a few adolescent boys for three hours is nothing.
Mr. K brought the baby back at break time so that I could feed her, and then after the class was over he drove me home. Bless him. I married the right guy. Having to have a support staff in order to teach means that it's too tough for me to go back to it regularly at this point, but I am so glad I got the chance to do it for an evening. I remembered that I really am good at what I do, and realized that the confidence that's come to me from giving birth the way I did is going to affect the rest of my life. Can't ask for more than that.