My biggest challenge this week seems to have been exhaustion, combined with a sore back. I don't know what the back issue is. It's not bad enough to go to the doctor but is just kind of irritating.
Things have settled down here with the children. It has become clear that the children need more time apart and my daughter needs a safe place to land. So we'll be working on getting her set up with a therapist too, and trying to have the children spend as much time apart this summer as needed. We had a good therapy session today, my son and I, and I am hopeful that now we can get to the real work.
I have been feeling anxious more, lately. My own therapist has said I need to focus more on myself, talk more about myself in therapy. Part of my anxiety is that I can't really separate myself from my children. For over ten years I have been their primary caregiver. I have taken them to school and to sporting events; I have arranged and followed through with all of the doctor and dentist and psychology appointments. I spent all my free time taking the kids with me to the park or the movies or the store. Yes, I came to my parents' house a year ago in a state of exhaustion. And it has been a tough year--one of the toughest in my life. But I feel as though I'm on the verge of being able to pick up and begin to put me back together. The process, however, frightens me. What if I don't know how? Moreover, what if I become lost in trying to define myself and find that I can't?
Tonight I was catching up with some friends on facebook and ran across a post from a former student. This student lost her infant to SIDS in February. She has been blogging and found the courage to write about her last day with her child. As I read her words, sobs caught in my throat. My biggest fear, for the last ten years, has been that somehow our children would be taken away from us. That fear is paralyzing, thinking that you will never see your child again. But I have never lived that horror; even in our worst moments we were imagining a change of custody, not a death of a child. I could not read her words without sobbing openly. I know I will forever be changed by her story.
As a teacher, one of your roles is to work with parents and build positive relationships with them. Often I hear both parents AND teachers comment on being able to understand one another's perspectives. Teachers who don't have children often think they can understand a parent's perspective. To some extent, they can. Teachers love the children they work with; they make connections and bond and join forces with parents to create the best learning environment possible.
I used to believe that I truly understood a parent's perspective. After all, my closest friend was a parent of two beautiful little girls, and I spent a good deal of time with all three of them. Parents even assumed that I had children because I worked so well with kids and knew how to communicate positively and proactively with parents. It wasn't until years later when I became a mother that I finally understood what it means to be a parent.
Being a mother made me more passionate than I had ever been. The expression "mama bear" was created for women like me, who become fiercely protective of their young. I never experienced a love like I have as a mom. There is no human relationship that even compares to how you feel toward your child.
I cannot imagine facing the horror of finding one of my children dead. Of remembering that last hug, last bottle, last kiss goodbye. It is one of the biggest nightmare any parent can imagine.
I pray that my former student finds some peace and solace in her process of sharing her story. The bravery it took to share her last day with her child was tremendous and deeply moving.
And I'll continue to pray that she is comforted, and that we find a cure for SIDS.