Friday, 27 February 2015

Teaching and being a mom

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It's this strange place that I'm in right now. This strange place of waiting, wishing and anxiously anticipating the arrival of this new baby. But on the other hand, I'm in this place of mourning the loss of my job, sad to leave my kids and friends at school and anxious about the beginning of something new--something unknown, but something so incredibly familiar.

Newborn Carter
Sometimes it's better to be oblivious. For it all to be new and unknown. Sometimes it's better to go in blindfolded, maybe even a little naive--because then the anticipation feels a bit different. The anticipation of a baby completely changing your life, but having no idea what that really means is where I was at before.

Mya-5months old

It was where I was at during those final days of my first pregnancy--and it was where I was at during those final days of my second pregnancy. Because having your first baby is full of unknowns.

Pregnant with Mya

Then having your second is full of even more unknowns since you're now learning how to manage two under two.

But now? Well, I know what it feels like to look after a newborn and a toddler--so add a four year old to mix, and well, you've just got to let the love and chaos continue.

*Mya and Carter, just after he was born

But this strange place that I'm in right now is complicated, because the countdown is on until my last day of work. And I'm certainly looking forward to the short rest period that I will get before this baby comes--because teaching kindergarten while just weeks away from delivering a baby is absolutely exhausting. But my students--my babies--the ones who make my job so rewarding...the ones who make me smile and laugh and who make me get up each morning and feel so grateful that I have a job that I adore...well, I'll miss them terribly.

And no, it's not always easy. Great doesn't always mean easy. Love doesn't always mean easy. It's not easy when they cry on the floor or whine at my leg. It's not easy when they hit and scream and lose their temper. It's not easy when they forget to listen or forget their manners completely. Teaching little people is not always easy, but it is still the best, most rewarding, amazing job that there ever could be.

Teaching means that you have days when the world is a beautiful place. Where learning is happening right before your eyes. Where hugs are given out like candy and where you are privileged enough to actually witness a child's development and progress right before your eyes. It's where you get to snuggle little people who need some extra love and where the words "I'm so proud of you" get to pass by your lips a million times a day. And so on those days during this teaching career when I drive home with tears in my eyes, trying to pull myself together before picking up my own kids, because the life story of a child in my care is more traumatic than anything you could even imagine. Or when you sit down with your husband and break down after school because you find out that one of your own little ones is on her way to a shelter. Or when you stay up all night worrying about that child who you have called Child and Family Services on over and over again. Well, those are the days when your heart breaks. Those are the days when you can't breathe. Those are the days when you come home and tell your husband that he should expect that at some point in this career of mine I'll be bringing a student home to live with us...a child who has nowhere else to go. And he looks at me and smiles, not surprised at all--but maybe a bit terrified because he knows I'm not kidding.

So you do whatever you can in the meantime to ease the lives of these little people who break your heart. You go out late at night and scour the aisles for the perfect bedding--beautiful comforter sets and sheets for a student and her sister who barely have a place to sleep, let alone blankets and sheets. And you come home and show your husband the bill, completely blowing the budget that didn't even exist in the first place--because it just didn't matter how much it cost. And he nods his head at you, knowing that it's important, necessary and something that will not necessarily take away the pain of these children--but it will for a moment let her and her sister know that someone cares. Someone loves them. And they'll remember it every time that they pull those covers up and lay their heads down to sleep each night.

It's the times when you pull warm mitts over cold hands, or sneak Christmas presents to the parents who you know are going through hard times. It's the times when you comfort a child who just needs to talk or who needs a shoulder to cry on and it's the times when you pull a child aside just to let them how how great you think they are--because you know they're not hearing it at home. It's those times in this teaching career that remind you of why you are really doing this. It's those times that remind you that teaching is not simply about teaching the curriculum. It's those times that can sometimes change the life of another young human being.

      So this teaching job--this's more than just a job to me. It's people. It's relationships. It's meaningful, and hard and amazing and rewarding. It's heartbreaking and wonderful all at the same time. So leaving this life--leaving my kids and my wonderful teaching partner who make me excited to come to work every day, well it will be hard.

So, I'll sit here in this strange place. This place of coming to the end of a pregnancy that is now so familiar to me, but still full of so many unknowns. This place of leaving the work, the wonderful teaching partner and the kids who I love in order to move towards my other life dream of having a family--being a mom my kids another sibling and meeting this little person who has been growing inside of me for all of these months. This little person who we are so incredibly in love with already.

So you see, it's a bit of a roller coaster ride--this whole teaching thing--full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and laughter and tears--which is ironic...because it's exactly what being a mom feels like.

Erica xo

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