Burnout: it is only the end for that season, and for that candle.


The other night we had a picnic dinner outside, which is the highlight of summer evenings for me. 

I love eating outside. Besides just being a nature-loving hippie, I love eating outside for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, we live in a forest. So our picnic table sits in our little meadow by our firepit and is surrounded by madrone and cedar trees filled with territorial songbirds, and a fleet of owls. I think we may have only had one or two owls last year as a starter pack, but mating season has been good to them. So now we have a fleet.

Plus…you have  significantly less to clean-up afterwards. I am pretty sure crumbs are a fertilizer of some sort. The grass is doing well, so I have to assume that this is an actual thing.

So, besides my general love for eating outside and reconnecting with the outside world, and not listening to the hum of my refrigerator and instead letting the wind in the trees calm my soul at the end of the day…

I will be the first to say that it is a seriously nice way to end the school year.

I am meeting’ed-out, end-of-the-year-picnick’ed out, paperworked out…I’m just done.

I knew I was done on Tuesday, specifically.

It was my last, last, final, for reals teacher meeting, and I had all our paperwork put together and in order. I had work samples, agendas, attendance, what we’ve accomplished in every subject for the past month…and who knows what else. Just lots of “tell us what you thought about this year” stuff.

(Which, if you’ve been following along, is a little confusing since we homeschool. So, these monthly teacher meetings are hours going over my books and just recording it for the school; which we kind of go to but it’s a homeschool enrichment program..and it’s kinda funky. Lots of paperwork. But anyway.)

After over an hour of going over everything, I got up and said my, “See ya next year!”s, walked to my car with the kids, and drove home.

I could feel all the adrenaline, and all the anxiety, and all the energy I had left over slowly…slowly drain out of my body. My mind was no longer cataloging hours and weeks and months of subjects and curriculums and goals and planning. There were no more end-of-the-year paperwork to fill out, no more work samples to collect. No more discussing what we were doing in Language Arts, or what field trips we’ve been on.

There was also PTO drama that she poked around a few times…no, I haven’t mentioned it here. And I was also pretty done talking about it then, as well.

We were done.

And I was done.

My car pulled into our driveway, and my kids spilled out of the doors and rushed back to their tents which they had pitched the night before and had become their safe haven away from paperwork; I’m guessing.

I, on the other hand, drug myself up to my bed…and laid down.

I turned an old movie from TCM on to keep me company, and so I could listen to Katharine Hepburn berate Spencer Tracy on his cufflinks, rather than what did I think we might be doing for reading this summer?

My body collapsed as my emotional apparatus collapsed, and I fell asleep.

The emotional exhaustion was finally kicking in.

And there was nothing left for me to do but rest.

That night, as we were having dinner outside, Ben brought out a candle holder so we could see what we were eating.  Make no mistake, it is lighter outside much longer…but when it is dark, it is dark.

But what I noticed was the candle all the way to the right…

it was going out. The flame wasn’t going to last much longer.

It was going to burnout, because it didn’t have any fuel left to keep it going.

Honestly, seeing that candle burnout was the most relieving thing I could see this week.

Because I know I am burnt out…I am burnt out in a very classic, I hardly have the energy to figure out where the Cheerios are in the morning at this point.

But I know I will find more fuel for tomorrow.

I can find another candle to put in there to light our dinners for another night.

This isn’t the end of the candle holder…it is only the end for that season, and for that candle.

So tonight, I let Katharine and Spencer tell me about their plans for their farm in Connecticut, and I listen to our fleet of owls…and I know I’ll be okay.

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