Love God. Love people.

Love God. Love people.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The February Shift- An Open Confession of a Teacher

It’s an inevitable shift that somehow happens every year around this time. 

Teachers— We look back at what has been, and we see ahead, a light at the end of the tunnel, and know that our days in this year, with this class are numbered. The calendar see-saw has tipped.  What seemed in September an infinite number of days to take attendance, and bathroom breaks, and vocabulary tests is now getting closer to the blessed end.

Also inevitable, rewinding to October, is when those true colors begin to show...we have a parent phone call (or a few), a lunch situation, consequences, and I begin to think, “I cannot do this for thirty years. I come home exhausted, utterly exhausted. The kids I had last year would never have done this. I never would have dared to _________ (fill it in) as a child myself.” 

 My mind is made up by November that I am not an effective teacher. This curriculum is harder than ever and the behavior of the students is more challenging than ever. Christmas break is a welcome sight, and even then in my dreams, I can hear the voices of my students that NEVER. STOP. TALKING.

I know very well that in their spare time, they are watching Youtube channels and playing lightning-paced video games at home. I am a mere mortal just trying to teach linking verbs through a song, and I will never be able to keep up with their preferred forms of entertainment.  I also know that if they approach my desk one more time as I am trying to grade these science tests, I am going to lose it. 

Oh! The interruptions! 

For when I give directions, lining up for art class, passing out papers, talking privately with a student— it is always with the drone of a motor of chatter in the background, usually from the same few whose names have already been moved twice on the stoplight chart this very morning.

But, this shift, this transforming, is subtle. After the second round of parent teacher conferences, and after I’ve tried more than a dozen seating charts, I realize that I have become familiar with their ways. All of them. I have also come to understand why that certain little girl comes to talk to me about nothing at all at least eight times in a day....or why that boy just cannot get to school on a regular basis. The student who never brought a single piece of homework back is not personally sabotaging my teaching, but simply is surviving when she gets home. 

I see them in their humanness. I see their weaknesses as evidence of their reality at home. Even my kids with stable, functioning environments at home— I see their quirks, their faults, their personalities at work amongst  and sometimes against those less fortunate in my room. And you know what?

I love them. 

I adore them. 

This is the February shift.

They cannot help being themselves. They are not an interruption...they are my purpose. It may have taken me six months, but I get there. I have arrived at that stage of fully accepting them, and teaching them in whatever capacity they will have me. I do it every year.

What might have felt like chaos and too much noise is still very much present, but my perspective has changed, giving each of them an advantage, of which some need more than others.  Kids are kids. And I, honest-to-goodness, enjoy them. I realize I can and may do this for 30 years.

These ones entrusted to me for 180 days will slip in and then right back out beyond my realm, my classroom. What I pray they know is that their 3rd grade teacher gave it her all, and felt for each of them dearly. They are valued, and I hope I am contributing something positive and meaningful in these early days of their lives. 

Thank God for the February shift.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Profoundly Grateful

I am about 3 months into my maternity leave (with about 3 months to go), and this time off, this precious pause in life, has made me quite contemplative. Maybe I have nothing new to say that you haven't already heard or thought yourself before, but once more I must write down these thoughts.  This time in my life is beautiful. 

I am beyond blessed to get the maternity leave that I am taking.  We are making financial sacrifices for it, but the payoff on the homefront is OH SO grand.  The moments can be mundane, messy, loud, and chaotic, but they are ours. I love waking up with my babies and being home. Some days, it is pajamas til 4 pm...or just pajamas ALL day for that matter.  My counters have never been so cluttered, my washing machine has never seen so much laundry, but my heart soars with gratefulness, joy, and delight.

Our baby, Hope, has just turned 3 months old. I have gotten the hang of this mothering-of-two-kids thing.  Our son, Colby, has me at a moment's notice for anything and everything. I wish all kids could have that, at least for a time with their moms. In the ebb and flow of most of our days, we share a laugh, a lunch, and some imaginative play. It is not always perfection, but it doesn't have to be... It is just the fact that I am here.  These are special times.

I was trying to put my feelings into words about the addition of Hope, and all I can say is that she makes our house feel more like home.  Her birth story was incredible, and almost euphoric (as I had an epidural this time).  I went from busy, overwhelmed, overly pregnant teacher to her mom, overnight-literally.  She came into the world, and it's like I let out a sigh of relief and then automatically settled in to our nest to become mother hen extraordinaire.  Anything outside of mothering I have been able to separate at an arm's length away.

The fact that Christmas is now falling on my watch during this time off makes it all the more joyful. Colby had his preschool Christmas program today, and all I could do was take it all in with all my heart. For our lives will never be right here in this spot again. 

A sweet, four-year-old boy with sleep still all over his face at 7:30 am walking into our bedroom to say, "Where's the little lady?"

Strolling down our road in autumn with a newly born, black-haired baby girl.

Making scrambled eggs with my son.

Breastfeeding in a peach-colored nursery.

Visiting grandparents.

A baby girl kicking her legs wildly in a small tub of bubbles

All of these things, I must document, as if engraving on my mind for future remembrance. I know Hope will be in preschool in a blink of an eye, and Colby will be too big for my lap.  I long for today to stay. Even if just a little while longer. 

Just taking it all in- because in time, my memory will grow fuzzy, and my everyday will be scheduled out for me.  The world will call us to join in at school, at sports, at events, at everything. But right now, the world can wait.

And for parting thoughts---I know this physical part of life will end for me some day. We are all spiritual beings living out a physical journey for now. Thanks be to God for providing me with these really magical, wonderfully sweet experiences in my journey.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Backpacks and Swim Lessons

 I am finding myself kind of lost as of late.  There are some unchartered territories that I am currently wandering, and all of it is both wonderful and unsettling at the same time.

First off, I am seven months pregnant, which magnifies any emotion I may be feeling.  😉  In the next short 8-9 weeks, we will meet sweet baby #2!!!!  Impending change coupled with many unknown factors can rev up lots of feelings of anxiety--good and bad. (And that's okay, and to be expected!)

The emotions that have surrounded me in just the past few days are surprising me, though, just like an unexpected guest.  I must document them as I feel like we are turning a rather large corner.

My son has turned 4, and with that age, it seems childhood independence gets its nod of permission to begin.  Just last week, he tried swim lessons for the first time and RELISHED every minute.  He now swims like a fish, and wants to explore the water more than ever! Great, right?

Yesterday, he attended his first-ever preschool day, which will be happening once a week for the next 7 weeks until the fall session starts up.  I tried to get a quick picture of him as we entered the school. Envision this: red and blue striped polo shirt, khaki shorts, adorable raccoon backpack, and dimples a mile deep into his still-babyish cheeks.  He couldn't get in the door quickly enough, the sun was a bit too bright, and the photo op just wasn't there.  He came home in the afternoon and in his very own words said, "I loved it!"  He couldn't even nap because he wanted to talk about his day.

Why am I so lost? I want to foster independence.  We even held our son a year due to timing of his birthday. He is ready for these things.  I guess I am caught by surprise that I am feeling so wishy-washy at the arrival of this new stage.  My husband and I have "talked up" for months both the swim lessons and the summer session of preschool to really prepare him mentally.  He was prepared. I forgot to prepare myself.  (You may be thinking, "Good golly--- it's not like he is moving out of the house.") But, all the same, these life moments FEEL monumental.

Just in the last 2 weeks, that proverbial grip of childhood has loosened for the first time.  It is a lot to take in.  

I know, I know--- I will love the free time I have.  For 5 hours yesterday, I did what I pleased.  I had no directions to give, no snacks to make, no "Mama, will you build this train track, get me some milk, play outside, etc...".  Still, change is different.  Change is hard.  Change is unsettling... Even if it is good change.  What is in the human soul that wishes for a child to stay young forever? I know most moms have felt or do feel that way.

Today, I praise God for two successful new ventures in Colby's life. He is just starting, and the growing and learning are going to exponentially sprout in grand leaps and bounds. I thank God also for the new life inside of me.  That we, as a family, get to have another run in the babyhood era.  

Newness. Opportunities. Growth.  These are all God's ideas.  He is walking with us. He knows our hearts, and how humanly challenging it can be to adjust to any changes.  

Whether you find yourself in a similar season as mine, or hurdling over another transition in your parenting journey, I encourage you to find rest in Jesus.  Uttering a 30 second prayer in the shower, or stopping to thank him for all the blessings in your transition will steady you for what lies ahead. He knows change. He knows feelings. He is present.

After all, His grip on your hand has never loosened--- no matter the stage of your life.