Alright, limit reached.

A 37 year old daughter and a 59 year old father should not have to swap ICU spouse stories. I hate this. I hate this, I hate this. I HATE THIS. We are both too young and I want to scream…okay I get it. Life is precious. Live each moment like it is your last and all those things that death or near death experiences remind us of.

It isn’t lost on me. I am still recovering from my last reminder. Monday when I found out I kept to myself. I didn’t really reach out because honestly my friends seem quite sick of me reaching out. I am still reaching out from the last round of life is precious and feeling like I have reached my quota.

Unanswered texts and no more, “how are yous?” That is where I am at. On Monday I felt devastated for my dad and alone. No one can help. No one would even believe it.

I wonder if the message isn’t bigger. Family is important. You need each other. Yea, I got that too. I had to listen to my dad today and hear heartache and pain in his voice. Not just today but yesterday and I have to tell him, “I know” and tell him I hear him and understand.

But if I am being honest it is too soon. I tried to give comfort and the words just won’t come. I had hope, I had a chance at a new beginning. But I said, “I know Dad, but…but…I don’t even have the words. It is so hard to be in there and see that. No one should have too see the person they love like that. No one, it is…I just can’t.”

Out of desperation, I pray and hope it gets better. It has to because I need it too. But no one asked me. It isn’t about me again. But I am tired of hurting. I am tired of my family hurting.

Love has to win. Love always wins. I just have to believe it. I do.

Advertisements

Well I didn’t really ask your opinion.

Right before I started working full time I made a comment in passing to someone I admire and respect. Someone that was a working mom I looked up to. I asked how I could handle the guilt. She responded in a way that has struck with me. She offered me a second option. She said, “or you could just choose not to feel guilty because you aren’t doing anything wrong.”

That was a moment for me. A moment where what she said made sense and a moment I thought, “Yea!” I knew she was right. Besides I know that I am the keeper and owner of my feelings. This concept was not new. But applying it to working mom guilt has never been as easy as it should be.

There are a million times in each week where I am faced with mom guilt. Where I have to choose between being momma me or professional me. And that isn’t that weird or pivotal of a concept. I am not breaking new ground here as a working mom.

But I am gonna say something that I don’t think a lot of people are. In my home our chores are 50/50. There really is no one parent or sex doing more of one thing or another. And thank God for that that I married a man who sees me as an equal and not only understands my desire to have best of both worlds, but actually encourages it.

Unfortunately, I am finding that society as a whole not so much. The insane amount of pressure that society puts on mothers is insane. It is no secret that this year was rough and I have been forced for most of this year to be mom and dad in my home. We are still kind of there for various reasons. I am okay with it and most of the time when my guy can help, he does.

But some days I can’t handle any more. Sometimes it is emotionally, physically or just time wise. I find that society is way less forgiving of me than they are of my husband. And what I truly mean is they are more forgiving of the father than they are the mother.

Usually when it happens it is disguised as a comment meant to insinuate guilt, “Gosh, I bet your kiddo was so upset that you could not make it for x. They looked so sad.” But guess what their daddy wasn’t there either. But we don’t focus so much on that.

I guess if you are the mom you are supposed to be there. And I gotta be honest I am failing miserably. I can’t be there as much as I want to. I do try though. But sometimes the pukey kiddo take priority over a special show. Or sometimes my work really needs me.

I do try and not feel guilty for that like my friend and mentor said. But I do. I can’t do and be it all. I want to. Trust me. But I am there for my kiddos and they know that. And when I am there, I am there 100%.

I just hope and pray that my girls watching me try and tackle it all that they see why and that they can to reach their dreams. I want to be the best wife, mother and teacher I can be. But sometimes I need my guy to do it. And sometimes that means also shouldering my guilt too.

Ain’t nothing gonna slow me down.

Image

How do you balance your teacherhood? I am gonna be honest I struggled last year. I started out with culture shock at how different teaching high schoolers was compared to university students. Then I had to remake ground and show em’ my nice. I constantly have searched for that balance. I don’t want to be harsh and mean. But I understand quite clearly that I am NOT there to be their friend. I know there is a balance in the middle and I must find it. And I think I did.

I also realized from my own parenting and two years with high school kids. They need boundaries. If you don’t give them they will take liberty with your expectations. But something great has been happening the last few days. Some student reflections in my class, some frank conversations and just some over all honesty.

I encourage reflection always. But if I encourage it I know also must do it. So I have. I believe I have found quite the balance in the teacher department. I have been with this group of kids almost the whole school year and asked for feedback on my teaching. I have been dubbed the “nice” teacher that expects a lot. And guess what…that is what I was aiming for. I do expect a lot. But even better they tell me it is appreciated. They like that I don’t let them give me less than my expectations.

Sometimes it is hard I admit. But it is what I believe in my heart. It is what made me who I was/am. It was my own teachers. Teachers who refused to let me slide into mediocrity. They believed I could do and be something amazing and therefore never let me give them anything less than amazing. That is darn powerful.

A big part of my teaching philosophy is pushing them to be better people, to respect themselves, to respect me, to respect their education. Last year I wavered at my own insecurities and this year I owned it. I am okay that sometimes they don’t like me. Though it is high school, it isn’t high school anymore.

I am a teacher and I have to believe what I sell and have faith that my love first of English and then of teaching will change their worlds. When that starts happening and I see it…it feels so amazing. Students who I believed would hate me forever and sent me home in tears many nights. Come to me a year later thanking me for standing my ground and demanding their best.

I don’t phone it in at all. I go into my classroom heart on my sleeves and I am who I am every single day. Sometimes that is beautiful, inspirational and meaningful. Other times it is tired, grumpy and hoping no ones notices the stains on my clothes. There is something in that that makes this experience authentic and full of emotion. But that is me. And that is the biggest take away for me…when I just own my authenticity they will see all my good shine through even on the bad days.

There is a power in that and that power comes from balance and love. #lovealwayswins

Please listen to my voice.

Dear Self, 

Be easier on yourself. Be easier on others. But most importantly, continue on being who you are. Don't let others sway you from your purpose or goals and don't down play who you are, so they feel better about themselves. But you are human. You make mistakes. You are good people. You just gotta remember who you are , where you came from and that you do matter.

But for those times when you feel like you have hit your stride and your mouth gets ahead of your head remember a few things. 

  • Be kind in your words
  • Silence has more power than unkindness
  • Choose goodness and love
  • Let your voice shine through…sometimes it isn't always about talking
  • Just because someone doesn't validate/value your experience does NOT mean it has no value or validation
  • Feeling is a choice
  • Love always wins be it love of a job, a person, a place, a situation 
  • There is goodness in you
  • There is goodness in others
  • But there are others out there who will bring about your "bad"ness, don't let em'

New Spaces and New Places

Back in my university teaching days I was about two years in and realized that I wanted something different. I had always been really intrigued by the transition from high school to college. As well, I was intrigued by this idea of the non-traditional student. I was a non-traditional student and I felt I could identify with it. 

92c4d43ac99994010dd8b82139a106e2

I kind of always knew I would teach high school until I went to college. I realized once I was there I wanted something slightly different, but could never word it or the actual reason why. I really still can't. But early colleges always were intriguing to me and this idea of the populations that feed into them. I felt a kindred connection to it. So two years ago April of 2012 I decided to apply to an a brand new developing early college. 

When I started working with my school I signed on with the purpose to hang on for two years and then my students would be ready to take English college credits. At the time we were unsure if they would be dual credit courses or straight college courses. The benefits of signing on so early and teaching freshman and sophomore were quite a few. At the time I was still a year out from my Masters degree. I was also able to be a part of this school from the ground up. As well, I could also dip my feet in actually teaching high school. I thought it would be similiar and it isn 't at all.

The students, the curriculum and the demand are SO VASTLY different. I am so grateful it worked out this way now because it prepared me to be ready to be the best early college teacher I could be. A teacher who isn't a professor, but also isn't a high school teacher. I stratgetically fit somewhere in the middle in a very unnamed space. 

When I made the leap to teach in a 9-12 setting I was given a hard time by the majority of people in the university setting. Some blatantly came out and accused me stealing their students and their jobs. Others were supportive and understood my new transition because they took the time to actually understand me.

But once in that high school setting I realized quickly I don't fit there either. Traditional high school teachers focus on hugely different classes in their own prep classes for careers. There is a lot of emphasis on methods/classroom management/processes. I found myself feeling deficient in some areas and over qualified in others. The language and conversations we had were different.

Like the university there were some who flat out gave me no respect despite my two years experience in a classroom. I had even been told, "It is great and all that you understand your content, but do you even understand how a classroom works?"  But then there were others that were amazingly supportive and offered help in what I lacked. 

But here is the deal I understand I fit no where. At first I believe it to be a very conscious unconscious choice. Does that make sense? I knew and understood the literal choice I made, but I never understood the actual reality of that decision. 

Now our first class of freshman are rounding into there junior years and their actual college English classes. A moment I have prepared for and waited for for awhile. The more I close in on the actual teaching of it and I prepare my curriculum the more the reality of it is coming to light. 

At the end of this week I was invited to my sponsoring university to meet and network with the other professors of the courses I would be teaching and possibility be at our early college. There were about 100 or so professors that came in for a meet and greet idea session and then a PhD in rhetoric and comp speaker that was meant to inspire and innovate our instruction. 

It was the first time in my professional career that I felt strangely out of place. I have been to these types of events at my previous university. They did it every fall and I knew almost everyone in the room. But I seemed or at least felt like the only person in the room that didn't know anyone else. There were the occasional stops where the person felt sorry for the person who was grossly over dressed and alone and they would stop by and introduce themselves. 

However, that inevitability lead every time to where I came from. Most of the answers when that happened were what courses they taught here on this campus or a satelite campus. But me my answer was, "I am up in Fort Wayne at our Early college." And a response not meant out of cruelty was "You are just a high school teacher?" 

At first I would thrown down my educational credentials and previous work experience at my alma mater. Then I just realized that was my own insecurity speaking. I know I had as much right to be there as they did. As well, they weren't making me feel that way. They weren't purposefully making me feel that way. I was making myself feel that way. 

I have been a 9-12 teacher for almost two years and I will go on record as saying that there is nothing that we do that is "just a high school teacher". The daily life of any teacher is something that no one on this earth could understand unless you do it. I could write a blog post about it and it would still not cover any of it. The exact same could be said for being a university professor and I cannot fully comment on that because that wasn't my title. But I don't believe it to be what the vast majority of us believe it looks like. 

In that realization, I also realized that my students are in that same battle every day. They probably want to be "just high school students" but they are in a setting that has college demands. And that is hard. I realized that our identities are being shaped right now and sometimes that is hard and difficult and makes us feel like we don't belong anywhere. But we do. We belong to one another. 

Sometimes the things that happen specifically at my school are hard to put your finger on. But they are amazing. The students are close knit kind of group. There are few discipline issues. There is so much academic and emotional support for students, parents and staff. I believe it is this idea of this new and different space that we are calling and making our own. 

Once I recognized that, I felt way less alone. My identity is an Early College teacher. I am a professor, but I am also a teacher. The more I stop trying to be one or the other and just be what I am the more I believe I can be confident in the work I am doing. This space I am creating is new. The idea and the concept is not new.The dual credit system isn't. There is a space out there for me. I just have to carve it out. 

Igniting my own fire.

I am nearing the end of my fourth year teaching and I am feeling so darn reflective. It is partially because it is that time of year and partially because I am always darn reflective. But I have these lessons that are new, some different ones and some repeats. 

But I am always grateful for the moments I reflect because it reminds me why I chose to do this. Over my break my room got moved around and today I was forced to relocate some of my possessions and as I ran across each piece I found myself sentimental. Renewed in passion for this 20120802-141021career path. 

They aren't my students to fix. They aren't my students to spill my knowledge all over. They aren't my students to judge. Sometimes it becomes so easy to lose sight of that in the daily hum drum of teaching. The more removed I become, the less value I feel I have as a teacher.

I am not saying removed in age or years spent teaching. I mean removed as in not seeing the forest through the trees. Not seeing the bigger picture. Yea there are standardized tests, college courses and curriculum to be developed and professional development to be had. But what happens when that is all gone? I am just a teacher standing in front of a classroom. There are two ways to make what happens next happen. 

That is to see them for who they are, who they will become and what they see for themselves or not see them at all. I chose the first one. 

Reflection two days before my first day as a 9-12 teacher: 

So I sought out some peace and quiet and found it among all places my classroom. Not long I am quite sure. Yesterday, the day before I am feeling quite removed because I am scared. There I said it. The students and teaching I love. But thanks to just the way I grew up when I reach achievements they often feel fraudulent. I know logically I am not fraud, but emotionally I am still that girl running classes in her drive way hoping beyond hope that someone will take me serious.

I am driving thinking of all these things this morning. I am in a bad, bad neighborhood. Like the kind of neighborhood that is on the news daily for murders. There doing a running jog on the corner is a previous student. He clearly has ran quite far. We did the smile and wave as I accelerated passed. I begin smiling as I looked around and all I saw was despair and urban life trying to dictate outcomes. He was a bright spot in all of that.

Two semesters ago he was in my room wanting, no dreaming, to be something bigger and better than this neighborhood. When he started I was doubtful, but by the time the semester was over I never had a doubt. He was a total and utter contradiction to the rule. The rules that society place on our backs and tell us who to be and what we are capable of.

So why do I have such faith in him when my story is not all the different. Maybe my neighborhood was but our survival modes and instincts are not all that different. Take your life and make it better. That is all my parents wanted for me. Don’t let your environment and society tell you who you are. And no matter how hard it tries, you have to want and be something different.

I could tell by his smile he heard me and felt me push him hard and he made it work. He was proud. I was proud. He continued running on with a wave and I continued driving on with a renewed sense of purpose. All this change, all the new faces, spaces, places cannot change who I am inside.

I am still that survivor, that girl in the drive way, that teacher who changed a few lives and maybe that teacher who didn’t. But what I do matters, no matter the time, place or person. I am not a fraud. I am a teacher.

I teach because it is my calling. I teaching writing because it is my passion and when the two collide watch out. 

Gone is yesterday.

My innocence has been lost. It can't be found. 

Be it due to age, time or pain

A pain that was never understood. Not because I didn't try. 

I spoke. You looked away. But back to yourself.

And you never listened to mine. 

The pains are different. 

Yours body. Mine heart. 

I don't have time to be tossed aside or to the back. 

I have time for Him and him. And not you. 

I have been hurt once, twice and three times. 

I will grieve for what was. But gone is yesterday.  

Today is Love. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

This poem is dedicated to all of my hurts. I hate to be sad and bitter. But I have to, to let it go. I have held onto it too long. The pain of the last five months of my life revealed a lot of truths. Truths that help guide my path, though painful they may be. I am sad for  you because it is quite likely you will never know how much you truly hurt me. But I am trying to live and die by this idea that love always wins and I have to let it. Which means I have to let it go. Finally

It was my husband who worried more about me than himself. A kind and selfless love even when he was mostly unconscious his concerns were for me. A kiss on the forehead, a wipe of my tears, a F45d854fdf7773a9d965dc1ec4c31bd6 squeeze of the hand when he couldn't speak. It was my husband who fought for me and to find me in the midst of my own sadness, fears and tears. That is love. That is eternal.

It was the friend that always answered my phone call/text in the middle of the night. You listened and never uttered a word. You wiped a tear.  You brought me food, you sent me a message just to let me know you were there. When I believed this to be my new life you never made me feel stupid or small. You listened. You put me before yourself even if just for that moment. That is friendship. That is love. 

It was the sister who was with me when I was staring as the board scrolled each new stage of the four hour journey. It was the laughter and ability to take my mind from it. It was the sister who came to see us in ICU and the step down unit. One of two visitors out of it all. You put yourself and our stuff aside for just a minute. That is family. That is love. 

It was the constant text and phone calls of kindness. A warm bed, a meal or answering on the end when I lost all hope. It was keeping your mouth shut even if you didn't agree. I could never tell because it wasn't about criticisms or this idea I could do and be better. It was about a sick husband and a wife who loves him beyond all measure. It was reminder that I am still a daughter to someone and it brought kindness to my aching heart when I needed it most. That is parenting. That is love. 

It was my three beautiful babies that I created with this man. A smile, a hug and immeasurable strength that no one can understand unless they have been there or done that. They never asked to be a part of this world. But we did promise to protect and love them and we did that while making our family grow even closer in ways we are only beginning to understand. 

I never believed myself not to have faith. I always knew I did, but I was never comfortable with my version of it. That was because I have been told what faith should be and look like. But in those hours and days when I had nothing to rely on but my faith. I knew exactly what faith was and exactly what it looked like. It was what willed me to get up and keep going. Faith was by my side in diagnosis, pain (both his and my own) and recovery. It is also my faith that reminds me that I gotta let go of the bad. I am a beacon of light, love and faith. But I gotta let all of that other stuff go. That is Faith. That is love. 

I will never stop living in this place. The place where I was given a second chance. I am not gonna quit talking about it. It is me and I am it. Forever. You haven't been there in the darkest place, nor would I wish that on you. But, I won't live in the fragile world were this happened and I have to stop living. But in living I also will not forget. I wear a smile because we survived and because I mean it. Love won. 

Love will always win. Bitterness and anger has no place in that. Anywhere. And if you are spending time trying to figure out what I am even talking about it. It is okay. I am fighting like crazy to find my way back. It is a slow process, and part of that process is letting go of my expectations of others and myself. That is what this is. 

In Twitter Terms : #sorrynotsorry

Today I am a survivor.

For the last five months I have minimized what my guy and I went through because it wasn't considered terminal. I held myself back from feeling anything on this lofty ideal that I Dc70ffe834faa8481ac1338a665e916cshould feel grateful that we didn't have to look at chemo treatments or death. 

And yea we are so very blessed and on the richter scale of suffering from a disease my guy's non-terminal diagnosis supposedly we would lose if there was a competition.

 

But we looked at huge major surgery in a huge major hospital and a diagnosis that was huge and major and yes we looked at death.

 

The what if's are too brutal to even think about sometimes. The pictures I took to painful to even look at. That is suffering no matter the scale. 

But I read something a few days ago that changed my perspective a little. 

I realized that I can own what we went through. I don't have to deny myself feeling like something huge was just plopped in my life. Because it was. It was a death. Yes a death in a metaphorical sense and yes I have my guy right here with me and he is relatively healthy so to speak. 

But my grief for this life before TN existed and I lost it. So did he. I don't have to minimize it on the idea of "at least it wasn't cancer" or "at least you don't have to have treatments". At first I found myself horribly offended by such statements. Then I realized that people were just trying to help. They weren't saying it didn't make our grief any less. And then I just realized I have to get over it. Learn from it, but don't not life because of it. 

No I will never say good bye. I shared here how my innocence on that is lost. But I gotta live. I need live each moment to the fullest. We did survive. And our marriage is even stronger. Our family stronger and closer. If there is any bright spot in any of this that is it. I have a good marriage, but now I know my marriage can survive just about anything. 

But I still have moments of fear that paralize me. This morning was one. In a story that seems redundant to share I will say that I have just come to expect that these times will happen. They keep life real. I hate that there are others out there that suffer from this. I also hate that I take comfort in the fact the I have a fellow wife of a TN sufferer in my life. It is such a tough rough. 

Call it a club or whatever you want. But being a spouse to a TN sufferer is unique. I have a friend that I can talk to like none other. It is hard to describe what you live with or even have others understand despite this desparate plea to have them do it. She gets it. She was a ray of sunshine and hope when things were pretty bleak. I am not even sure if she realizes that. 

But I get to see her today! I so excited for that. I am not excited at all that our common bond is primarily TN now. But I just want to her to know how she kept me sane in some of my darkest times the last five months. She never said the "at least it isn't" things. She never said "it will get better". She just listened and supported and when she needed it I hope I did the same. 

So sunshine and flowers today. Today I am a survivor.