Gasping for Breath

I woke up this morning with a feeling I am unsure is unique to me, or is a collective feeling among people who write (I can’t call myself a writer these days…it’s been over a year)-it’s a phrase or thought running through your brain like a train bursting through a tunnel. So strong you’re compelled to get up and get it out on paper to acknowledge its existence. It’s weird, these thoughts, for me it’s usually just a string of words that I know needs to be unfurled through the act of writing so I can see the what they really hold. At 4 am today I woke up thinking “This is the time of year when Doha practically forces us to leave”. And indeed, it is. We were graced with a long spring of cooler temperatures, but in the last few weeks we are regularly hitting close to a hundred degrees. The air is heavy and the sand seems to kick up several times a week. These two together create a yellowish haze that hangs in the air and settles into your lungs if you are outside too long.

Doha is asking us to leave, and I think we are ready. This year has been a doozy, for lack of a better term. The Islamic calendar has Ramadan and Eid-al-Adha placed in such a way that we had a relatively short, intense academic year and will have a longer than usual summer. For us, that meant a three week Christmas break and a week long Spring Break, but hardly any extra holidays. At one point this year we had over 12 weeks without a bonus day off. These weeks are great for student learning, but they are exhausting for teachers. We all know the benefit of a good federal holiday thrown in to give you a three day weekend and/or four day week and we just haven’t had those this year. We are tired. Bone tired. And yet, this sprint of a year has left me feeling like it’s too early to let me kindergarten students go. They are ready-they are starting to spill over my little chairs and are growing bored with the KG routines, but I still feel like I need another month with them.

My own children are done. We’re at the point where we’re setting small goals to make it through the week. Thankfully we’re on Ramadan hours which is more relaxed and easing the fatigue the end of the year brings. Noah’s finishing up his first year of high school. The days where I recognize glimpses of my little boy are further apart and while it’s strange and a bit unnerving I’m intensely proud of the young man he is becoming. There have been slip ups along the way-the old adage small children small problems, big children big problems-seems to be accurate, but academically he’s exceeded any expectations and managed to do it all while participating in three seasons of sports.

Sophie continues to be our quirky creative. She’s spent the year participating in an intense football (soccer) league and has loved every minute of it. Sophie also devoted months working towards her induction into the National Junior Honor Society and thrived on developing service projects and giving time to others. She babysits weekly for two boys with some challenges and loves it. Sophie’s spirit regularly leaves me in awe, but the intensity of it all can also driving me crazy.

Our Stella continues to be the sensitive soul in our bunch. Her feelings run deep and can turn in an instant which sometimes proves exhausting. I’ve seen her love of running grow this year and the fierce determination she displays during competition off sets her fragile nature. Even though she is about to turn 9 she is still young in so many ways. She loves playing Barbies alone, reading about science, and drawing. Stella’s had a good year but I am still not sure she’s come into her own fully.

Then there’s our Clare Bear. Clara has grown so quickly as they do at this age. She loves her brother and sisters and has started developing friendships of her own. She plays babies continuously and while her height and speech make her appear older than 2.5, her sleep habits will tell you otherwise.


Our time in Doha gives us so much-so many opportunities for our children, a great school, and mostly gorgeous weather, but now she is asking us to leave. We need the tall pines and rocky beaches. The cool mornings and mountain air.

Just two more weeks until we land there again.

harstine island

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