Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
That's okay, though, because we only want to be a stepping stone to the rest of their forever, to the hope that they will all lead good lives, lives that are bigger than 8th grade.
But sometimes, the bigness of it can be overwhelming. When kids are bullied in ways that go beyond just getting picked on, when you worry that they won't make it long enough to remember that middle school is not their real life, it's heart breaking. We were all picked on in school, I'm sure. We were all on the side of picking on someone, too, I'm sure. Once in 8th grade, someone wrote BITCH on my locker in white out. I probably deserved it. But, this didn't happen every day. I had friends to help me clean it off my locker. I got over it, because it wasn't my every single day. For some kids it is.
This year, I've been witness to some of the worst cases of bullying I've ever seen. Ones that stick with you, ones that make you wonder how the hell kids can get so screwed up in the first place, ones that have me reaching for tissues, running to the principal's office because I know it's out of my reach. As always these days, my mind goes to my own boys. How I pray they'll never be mercilessly picked on. Or worse, how I pray that they'll never be the ones mercilessly picking on their peers.
I pray they'll understand that life is big and small. That those years of growing up are so fleeting. I pray they'll have the courage to walk alone when needed and the courage to stand side by side when the time is right.
Mostly, I just pray that they make it through the small, yet very, very big years of their lives unscathed. I wish that every kid in the world had someone praying this for them. I wish that every kid knew that somewhere an adult does care for them and that this life has so much to offer, because it does.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Living so near to both of our families, we tend to have two celebrations for each holiday. In theory that sounds good, but like Communism, it's not actually that great. Two celebrations means that we spend a great deal of the day driving, that we don't really get to enjoy the food that much because we eat two big meals in one day, and that our kids are off schedule and crazy by the end of the [very exhausting] day. So when I was pregnant with Luke and we knew we'd have a very small baby on Easter, we decided to host at our house and haven't turned back since.
The first Easter we hosted was exhausting. He was so little that I hadn't yet lost my baby weight and I clearly hadn't learned how to dress with my newly inflated, ahem, assets.
Luke was only seven weeks old and still wasn't nursing well. I spent a lot of the day upstairs, trying to get him to latch in between trying to be a good hostess. I failed miserably at both. By the end of the day, he was so overstimulated that he screamed and screamed and screamed, until Shane and I gave in and drove him around in the car until ten o'clock that night.
And yet, it was so good to be home. It still is. This Easter was wonderful. No stress, no new babies, just a happy family as we got our house ready to host. We noticed that a mama robin was making a nest in the basket of flowers I'd set right outside our door. We watched her make her nest all day, in between angrily chattering at us when we'd get too close.
What an awesome reminder of new life today.
I hope your days were beautiful.
Tommy is pantsless due to a cupcake incident. He's not smiling due to surliness over the aforementioned cupcake incident.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
It's hard to believe that I just had a Luke and no Tommy, that I was innocently unaware of things like precipitous labor and severe sleep deprivation and seizures.
Lately, time has been both precious and painful. Painful in the loss of loved ones, precious in watching my children learn and grow. Lately we've gotten further and further away from babyhood and entered into toddlerhood and, well, boyhood. Luke is starting preschool in the fall. Tommy is getting more and more verbal every day. Right now, they're playing trains together, something they did for hours yesterday. It's beautiful, finally finding this commonground where they're brothers AND playmates. This is what I imagined when I thought of two kids.
Sometimes we talk about a third, but the word if is used, not when. So, I don't know what life has in store for us, but I'm kind of okay with that. Who knows, maybe two years from now, I'll be writing a blog post and telling you how I had no idea what it'd like to have three kids. Or maybe I'll be telling you about Luke and Tommy and the third child that is still an if.
For once, I don't have a plan and I'm okay with that, content to let it flow.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Then I put on my big girl pants, the ones that have an elastic waist band so they’re never too tight, and I confessed all that’d been bothering me lately. And you came out and supported me, in more ways than I could have imagined. Then I lost someone I loved and was overwhelmed by the support I received. So maybe today, it fits a little better.
I wish I could tell you that I lived this weekend with joy and thankfulness, but I didn’t. I lived this weekend with grief and regret. Saturday was really hard, much harder than I thought it would be. I cried a lot. I was angry far too often, at all the people I shouldn’t have been. Losing not one, but two women in less than ten months to breast cancer was more than my mind and heart could handle. Sunday, I was tired and short, my eyes were raw. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I finally got it together and packed an entire weekend’s play into Sunday afternoon hoping that it’d make up for the cloudiness that hung over our weekend. I don’t know if it did, but it lifted my heart. It also made me regret not being able to lift my heart sooner.
And now, typing this up before work begins, I miss my boys. They're getting so big these days. Yesterday, Luke and I had a very real, grown up conversation where he said he'd remember that he's not the boss, and I said I'd remember to not get frustrated when he forgets. Then he told me that Grammy never yells or puts him in time outs, and I told him that when I was a little girl, Grammy yelled at me sometimes. His eyes got big and he said, REALLY? Why? I said that sometimes I forgot that I wasn't boss and he said, Just like me! Then we sniffled away our tears, hugged, and went downstairs to color. And Tommy. He's getting to be so big and communicates so well. Last week, he threw a fit when I tried to carry him out of the sitter's, because he wanted to walk. Now he walks all the time. Gone are the days of the little baby that only wanted to be in my arms. It's so amazing to watch them shoot toward independence.
I don't regret mourning this weekend. I needed this time to mourn, but I regret not finding more time for joy.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Although I wasn't allowed to watch much TV growing up, I always watched Sesame Street. Some of my favorite episodes were the ones where James Taylor was on, and I'd always yell to my mom, "The singing guy you like is on!" As a kid, I remember my sisters' friends calling me Cookie Monster, because I ate my cookies rather like that furry blue guy. The truth is, I probably still do.
As an adult, I've loved introducing my kids to Sesame Street. Tommy's current favorite is Elmo (or melmo, as he calls him) and Luke loves the old Follow That Bird movie (one of my favorites, too!). This is why I jumped at the chance to give away a family four pack of tickets to Sesame Street Live “1-2-3 Imagine! with Elmo & Friends” to one of my local reader (see below for show dates and locations). The great thing about Sesame Street Live is that it's obviously geared for younger audience members with a 90 minute show, including a 15 minute intermission. Just enough time to keep kids engaged with singing and dancing from their favorite Sesame Street characters, but not enough time for them to get fidgety and restless.
How much fun is that? I know that my kids would be in seventh heaven!
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment telling me who your favorite Sesame Street character is. That's all! Giveaway will close April 21st, winner will be chosen at random.
Please enter only if you can attend one of these locations and dates:
Merrillville, IN; Star Plaza Theatre
Wednesday, May 4 – Sunday, May 8, 2011
Rosemont, IL; Rosemont Theatre
Thursday, May 12 – Sunday, May 15, 2011
I received no compensation for this in any form--just sharing becuase I love my readers!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
She was so proud. When the middle schools split, we all wanted to go together. Sitting in an open interview with my now boss, she said she didn't do any extra-curriculars and she wouldn't ever. We could see the dismissive look on his face, all of us thinking, TELL HIM. Tell him why. But she wouldn't. And then when we went to two schools, she stayed behind and I missed her. We emailed and met for occasional meals, but two kids later and those meals became fewer and fewer, only occasional emails. I won't even go into the guilt of how I should've kept in better touch, how I should've made the meals a monthly affair no matter what. I won't talk about the guilt, but it's there. When I heard this August that she wasn't returning, that she decided to stop the treatments, I knew. I knew what would happen, but until yesterday, I realized that my brain hadn't really admitted it but that I thought she'd keep fighting because I couldn't imagine any other alternative. I didn't know how much I'd miss her until she was gone, how the tears would come in waves and waves and how the lump in my throat just won't go away. My head hurts and my eyes are raw. And there's this underlying anger, where I want to kick things and hit the wall and swear loudly, because THIS ISN'T FAIR. This world was such a better place with her in it. Someday I'm going to show Luke that picture and tell him how she fought the hardest fight for eight years and how she won in the end, letting go on her own terms.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The truth is that social media--or any media, really--is difficult as a teacher right now. If you're a breastfeeding mom, you know how it feels when you see or hear someone comment on nursing, when they say it's disgusting or should only be done in the bathroom. You feel attacked, even though they may not be talking about or to you personally. Or if you're a formula feeding mom, you know how it feels when you see or hear someone say that formula is poison or that they'd never feed that to their baby. They might not be talking to you, but it sure feels like they're attacking you.
This is how it feels to be a teacher. This is how it feels when you open up the newspaper and every single day, there's a new proposed law wanting to lower your already low pay, implying that anyone could do your job, stating that most teachers are bad. This is how it feels when you read whole blog posts with people ranting about their child's teacher, attacking his/her classroom rules, discipline calls, and so on. Am I saying that parents shouldn't complain about something they feel a teacher isn't doing right? Absolutely not. I believe that communication between a parent and teacher is one of the key components to a successful education experience. I also believe that that communcation should be done in private. But here's how I feel when it's done on a public forum: I feel ashamed. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel sick, because if that was me, if I somehow stumbled across a blog post a parent had written about me (and honestly, the internet isn't that big), I would be crushed. Because guess what? Like anyone, teachers are human. Teachers make mistakes. Teachers have days where they have a sick child at home, where they're sleep deprived, where they snap at a student for whispering while they're trying to teach, because the kids haven't been on task all day and they just want to do their job. Does that make it right? No, of course not. Are there bad teachers out there? Yes, of course. Just like there are bad mechanics, bad doctors, bad parents, bad actors.
But for the most part, we care. And this is what makes the current teacher bashing climate so hard. We care. We care more than we should, more than our hearts can handle. We go home at night and cry in the shower about the student who has bruises, the student who is getting bullied, the student who lost a parent, the student who was expelled for dealing drugs, the former student whose name is in the police blotter--could I have saved him? We get told to shut up, we get sworn at, we get disrespected in ways you wouldn't imagine. If we gain weight or get a new hair cut, we're subjected to 150 people who feel they have to make a comment on us. We answer to our students, to their parents, to our own bosses.
We pour our heart and soul into lessons, only to look up in the middle of it to see three kids sleeping, one texting, and two throwing paper at each other. When we do something wrong or when someone disagrees with us, we hear about it instantly. But when we do something right, we almost never hear a thank you.
I won't tell you what teachers make, because I can't tell you better than Taylor Mali does. But I can tell you that we care. That we try. That you might think it's a cushy job because summers are off, but the truth is, we need summers to heal the hurts from the past year, to refresh and recharge so that we can do our best. So, I guess I've been silent and unfollowing people and just keeping to myself because it's taken me this long to find an eloquent way to explain how hard this is right now.... and truthfully, I'm just plain tired. Is it summer yet?