I subscribe to the idea of those with chronic illness are provided a set number of “spoons*” for themselves. Each of those spoons represents the effort it takes to accomplish a task. (You can read the story behind Spoons at But You Don’t Look Sick?)
Getting ready in the morning requires a spoon; sometimes even getting out of bed takes a quarter of a spoon … so everything I do takes away from my spoons. Making coffee, packing a lunch, even driving into work costs me spoons. Driving home, cleaning up after my family, cooking and then cleaning up dinner, getting Moo into and out of the bath and then into bed … everything.
- Spoons are more expensive when you’re sick.
- Spoons are more expensive when you’re tired.
- Spoons are more expensive when there’s an approaching deadline.
Oh, and you don’t get more spoons when you need them.
I estimate on a GOOD day, I have 12 spoons total. Let’s do some maths.
- getting up + getting ready for work, no shower = 1 spoon
- driving safely to work without irritation of other terrible drivers = 1 spoon
- teaching all day long (just teaching) = 5 spoons
- grading + planning + counseling students = 2 spoons
- parent/staff/disciplinary meeting (not daily) = 2 spoons
- driving home + cleaning up after family at home = 1 spoon
- planning, shopping for, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after dinner = 1 spoon
- Moo’s bath time, bedtime, sleep time prep = 1 spoon
I’m out of spoons and I have a few hours of my day left. I can either sit on the couch and stare at the boob tube (or play a game on my phone), or I can start a load of laundry, tidy the living room, organize bills for the month, refill my meds container, or shower to prepare for tomorrow.
Ultimately, there are not enough spoons in my life.
Teaching requires too many of my spoons each week. I can’t keep a house, a family, and a life outside of my classroom with chronic illness.
Teaching may be my calling, but I have to put her on hold for a little while to figure out the best kind of environment for my skills — a dedicated middle school homeroom teacher is too much!
*There are many people with chronic illness who hate the idea of spoon theory; so I understand it’s not for everyone.