Posts Tagged With: young children

mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

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Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just you wait, Henry Higgins. Just you wait.

I haven’t written anything in a while. I just haven’t been feeling well…or feeling like writing. It’s not an excuse…it just is.
Monday starts my last two weeks in my classroom. While I’m sad to say goodbye to my babies, I’ve never been happier to leave a job in my life. And that’s saying something. I used to run the nursing department of a home health care company. Every day on the way to work I would fantasize about being in an accident. Not enough to be hurt, enough to not make it to work.
It’s not the kids, I adore them. Even the ones I don’t actually like. It’s the way the administrators (None of which have any early childhood experience.) never bother to ask the most important question.
What’s best for children?

I ask that question every single day. And I do my damnedest to answer it.

It disgusts me that they are treated like chattel with dollar signs on their chests. Is that what’s best for children?
If parents knew how decisions regarding their children’s care and education were being arbitrarily decided would that be acceptable?
But some parents don’t care. Their careers, their lives are more important to them and they’re content to believe the hype as long as someone looks after their children all day long.

No one gives a damn about emergent curriculum. Or learning through play. Or brain development.
Is that what’s best for children?

I’ve never been truly satisfied at this school. I’ve had moments of great joy. But I’ve always known it fit me ill.
It’s made me question my passion for early childhood education. It’s made me question my love for young children. I’ve been wrestling with “hanging up my spurs” for quite some time. It fascinates me that something beyond my control made the decision for me. Is the stress from this job really creating the sickness in my brain?

Perhaps I’m just a whiny crybaby? Perhaps I’m just lazy? Perhaps I simply don’t want to have to go to work everyday?
I’ve asked myself these questions. With the exception of the first one, the answer is no. (The answer to the first question is: occasionally.)

It’s occurring to me as I write this that as bad as that other job was, this one goes against my personal beliefs. That just might be why it feels so much worse. I care so passionately about young children and their beginning education that I absolutely cannot participate in the degradation of the most important time in a person’s life.
From zero to five years is when everything we need for our entire lives starts being built.

I was discussing with a couple we know, the brain situation and leaving my job under medical advice. The husband (Who is an engineer.) said something to the effect of: But all jobs are stressful. The wife (Who is a teacher at an elementary school.) replied something to the effect of: Teaching is so stressful. It’s not like other jobs. You can turn your brain off occasionally while you’re working. But we never can.
I agreed and said: I am almost constantly engaged with my kids. My brain works even harder than my body does. When a child comes to me with a question or is excited about an accomplishment, I have to be ready to go! I have to give that child my undivided attention while being completely aware of the others.

Most people have no real understanding of what early childhood educators do. It’s not quantifiable but it lays the foundation for every single moment of learning.

I’m going to step down off my soapbox.
I’m going to enjoy the last two weeks with my babies before they move into the “junior kindergarten program”.
I’m going to walk away with my head held high.

It occurs to me in this moment that I haven’t been writing because I was filled with all this poison. It was making me fell unwell. It was making me cranky.
Well, I’ve just spewed the poison it onto this page and I actually feel a great deal better.

Am I crazy?
Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face?
Are personal beliefs and principles so sacred that to go against them makes one ill?
Don’t we skew our principles a teeny bit just to make it through each day?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy…

I am going to take time in September and October to heal my brain. (I’m extremely stubborn so I plan to do that through the sheer force of my will.) I’ll take that time to finish wedding planning. I’ll spend a good deal of that time with my own precious Thing 2.
And when YBW and I come home from our honeymoon, I’ll find a new job. One that suits me and that I suit.

I’m reminded a little bit of Eliza Doolittle: Just you wait ‘enry ‘iggins. Just you wait.
My brain is Professor Higgins. Life is Professor Higgins. And just like Eliza Doolittle, I plan to show my brain and the world what’s up!

Categories: education, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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