Between the meal prep and clean up (I just finish cleaning up one meal and look, it’s time to start prepping the next one….!), I have been doing the schoolwork with the kids. I brought along a number of excellent resources, so some of the teaching has been straightforward. My bigger challenge has been keeping them motivated to work (especially on things that are less interesting) and trying to teach multiple levels simultaneously. I really hope they are learning something, although in the end, it will no doubt be more an education of experience than the traditional. I am very fortunate that they are all voracious readers, as they have been reading many books (Tin Tin books are Matthews current favorites), both fictional and non-fictional. I am very pleased that I got them set up on ereaders before we left, as between Ethan and Noah alone, the book luggage would have been unbelievable otherwise! They are learning about sailing, and courtesy of a very lovely gift from a fellow sailor, they are learning their knots. Great fun until the eldest ties the youngest up in knots! My greatest teaching challenge lays more in the interaction with the kids and less the material. My experiences reinforce yet again my admiration for teachers who can connect with different kids, with different learning styles and different abilities. I suspect I will learn a great deal as a result of this new role: patience, tolerance and adaptability at very least.
Some days, it certainly feels like I do nothing but prep, pick up after people and deal with the constant “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”. Between the sunshine, the busy-ness and the toll of stress (more on that later), I find myself quite exhausted by the end of the day. (No, not looking for sympathy here!!) Having said that, it is a different kind of busy-ness than my usual, and as a result, it has been a welcomed break. I can say with honesty that I was professionally burnt-out by the time our adventure started, and there was a great need to retreat, regroup, re-evaluate and rejuvenate my love for medicine and the patients that called me to this profession in the first place. Standing back, I am amazed at the work we (as health care professionals) do every day…have you ever stopped to reflect on the number of decisions we make every minute of every patient encounter? The multi tasking is remarkable. Add to that all the other challenges (fatigue, limited resources, etc etc etc), and it is quite impressive that we continue to do what we do, as well as we do, every day. You are an amazing group of people, all of you, and I remain in awe. Have I missed medicine yet? Well, honestly, not really, although I do miss my hospital/office family a great deal. Having said that, I have just recently started opening the medical books I have brought along, so I think I might soon be ready to sink my teeth in again! Fortunately, I have had little need for medical skills on our trip thus far…narrowly missed suturing Noah’s split lip the first week (one of my favorite injuries — not!) and recently did some minor surgery on Paul’s toenail (another of my favorites…. and no, you ER nurses that know me well, I did not faint!). Must be the rum.