Thursday, November 21, 2013

where am i going?

I work at a school with challenging demograhics. The students have tough lives. The students themselves are tough. They are up against some serious odds, just to make it from day-to-day.

And then here I am. Their teacher. I have stated my argument time and again, to myself, to my husband, to my mom. I am providing them with stability. I am part of a safe environment that they can come to every day. I am a compassionate person who they interact with every day. I am teaching them something academic, helping to guide them to a path of learning. I am hopefully pointing them in the "right direction" in their young lives.

But who am I kidding? I just don't buy it anymore. I can't make myself believe it anymore, because that's what I have been doing for a few years now: actually making myself - forcing myself - to believe the aforementioned argument.

The truth is, I feel like I am doing NOTHING to reach out and truly touch these kids. Instead, I am just a pain-in-the-you-know-what teacher who is forcing them to try to learn something and then doling out homework that I know they don't have the time, energy, or motivation to complete. Then they earn poor grades in my class (among others) and thus I contribute to a high fail rate and, in my opinion, a low academic self-esteem that is too common at my school.

I want to touch them. I want to learn more about each and every one of them. I want to sit down with them, hear their story, and then HELP THEM. I want to help them. I want to be part of a program that offers emotional support to these incredible teenagers who are up against so many odds. I want to help them find and locate community resources that will help them lead better lives - like food shelves, free medical care, night classes for their parents to learn English, child care options for younger siblings. I want to help them. I don't want to teach them anymore. I want to be a support system for them in an entirely different way.

But how do I do that?

I need to leave teaching. I need to. BUT WHERE DO I GO?


I am a heavy-hearted person. I feel things. Like, I really feel things. I take on the emotions of others too much. I am constantly asking myself (actually, my husband is constantly asking me) "Who owns that problem? Is it you? No? Then you have to take a step back."

But I can't.

Take today for example. I learned that one of my student's brothers died last year in a car crash. Probably my most favorite freshman student this year. Simply adorable. Put together, studious, SO cute, and incredibly sweet. NOT FAIR that she has to experience this loss at such a young age.

I also had a conversation with another wonderful student of mine. She happens to be in my advisory, so I don't know her too well yet. Well, a few of her grades are slipping, so I asked her about that. She said that she can't stay after school anymore to get help, because her dad was deported a month ago, and now she has to go right home to help out at home with her family. NOT FAIR that she is experiencing this loss. How does she - and countless other students - stand a chance?

My aunt and uncle are struggling with HUGE health issues right now. More than anyone should be asked to handle ever, in their entire lives. And they live so far away. All I want to do is hug them, but I can't. NOT FAIR that they have these daily emotional, physical, and financial burdens.

So you see, my mind is consumed with these things. Just consumed. And then, as if there is any space left in my mind, other worries find a way to creep in. Stupid mom worries. Am I talking to Lambie enough, so that she will have a big vocabulary? Am I stimulating Bear enough, so that her incredible mind can grow and grow and be even more incredible? Am I setting a good example every minute of every day, or are my children seeing me too stressed out? I know Bear heard Niko and me arguing earlier this week and I still feel TERRIBLE with a capital T. Does Niko really know how much I love him? Am I ever going to finish sorting photos and making Lambie's photo album? Bear's birthday is just around the corner - will we be ready? When will the terrible two's go away? Am I handling the terrible two's as I should be - with grace and compassion?

Relax. Relax, Relax, Relax.

I don't know how to make my worries go away. I can tackle them one at a time, I can lean on my husband for support, and I can try positive self talk. But I will always be a worrier. I will always be a highly emotional woman who feels intense emotions. I need to accept that about myself and embrace it.

However, I know that I also need to reign in my emotions a bit. Yes, I will always be a worrier, yes I will always have intense emotions, but I need to learn how to express them in a healthy way. Like - if something goes wrong or if I feel guilty about something - it is not the end of the world. If someone comes at me with a different opinion than me (namely, my mom), they are not attacking me so I should not feel targeted.

Sometimes I wish I had a different emotional make-up. Like, life would be easier. I wouldn't find myself heavy hearted over everything, I wouldn't be worried about everything I do, I wouldn't get so frustrated in the face of adversity or conflict.

But at the same time, there's the up side to being so emotional. I am compassionate. I am empathetic. I am a good friend. I love hard and with all my heart.

I think I just need to embrace my highly emotional make-up...but
1. somehow figure out a way to separate or remove myself from problems I don't own. Acknowlege the emotion, but don't let it consume me. Like the stories earlier about my students.
2. go-with-the-flow a little more, like with the mom worries and/or the crabby interactions that can occur for any of us on a daily basis (like with our husbands, our moms, etc.)
3. Throw out the word "perfect." That word, in and of itself, is enough to stress me out, make me worry, make me feel inferior, make me feel guilty, etc. etc. etc. It creates a landslide of emotions for me...unnecessary emotions. Emotions that cloud everything, and don't let me enjoy the moment. PERFECT DOES NOT EXIST. Stop using that word. Stop thinking perfection can be achieved. Stop!

I can do it. I think I can, I think I can...

Friday, November 8, 2013

a love letter to my girls.

I have two little girls.

They are the lights of my life. One is my heart, the other is my soul.

This is my promise. To them. A promise to myself, but really - a promise to them.

I promise to always tell you nine million times a day that I love you. I promise to kiss you over and over. I promise to hug you when we're happy, hug you when we're sad, and hug-it-out when we're mad. I promise to sweep the hair out of your eyes. I promise to whisper sweet things in your ear when we're snuggling. I promise to read to you all the time. I promise to help you brush your teeth every morning and every night, and hold us to that darn timer from the dentist that seems to last forever. I promise to do projects with you, like baking cupcakes or bread, or making holiday cards with lots and lots of glitter and stickers. I promise to let you sit in my lap anytime you want. I promise to make forts with you. I promise to help you learn from your mistakes. I promise to take you for walks all the time, so we can look for puppies, feel the breeze, and count the airplanes. I promise to dance with you, especially to our favorite songs. I promise to listen to Aladdin and Jasmine sing "A Whole New World" over and over again in the car. I promise to take a million pictures of you for memory's sake, but respect when you say you've had enough of the camera. I promise to get excited over little things with you. I promise to let you use my "lip gloss" (really, it's chapstick) anytime you want. I promise to sing with you.

I promise to give you space when you need it. I promise to not hover and micromanage you. I promise to trust you. I promise to believe in you. I promise to forgive you. I promise to not judge you. I promise to tell you how proud I am of you, all the time. I promise to notice, appreciate, and treasure the little things. I promise to be patient with you. I promise to be calm. I promise to be positive. I promise to set a good example, especially when I am frustrated with someone or a situation. I promise to not be crabby under my breath. I promise to exude love, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and honesty. I promise to teach you how to love yourself. I promise to praise your efforts more than your achievements. I promise to help you believe in yourself. I promise to give you space to be the person you want to be, and respect when you make decisions that differ from my point-of-view or opinion.

I promise to love you. Always. No matter what. Because you are the lights of my life, my heart and soul.