Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Early Memories

I have always assumed that my children will remember very little from these early years of their lives.

I have always thought that those moments that I care not to remember, because my behavior deserved a time out, would not be ingrained in their little memories.

I have always counted on the fact that I don't really have memories from before my 5th birthday so, of course, my children would not either.

Apparently, not the case.

After what can only be described as an off the freaking wall kind of day I rushed home to get the kids from daycare since the husband is working late tonight.

I hate picking up at daycare. I hate dropping off at daycare, too. It's just not fun, coming or going!

I grabbed all of their junk and bags and everything else. I made sure they had cleaned up their toys. And I just wanted to get home, make their dinner and get them into bed.

We were making the 5 minute drive home when from the back seat comes the boy's voice, "Mommy do you remember when we moved all your stuff into this car?"


"Do YOU REMEMBER when we moved all of your stuff into this CAR?!"

"What do you mean boy? We never moved anything into this car."

"YES mommy! You had a car before this. REMEMBER?!? We had a car accident mommy. And then we got this car and we had to move your stuff into it."

Holy shit.

"I do remember buddy, you're right. What else do you remember about the car accident?"

This went on for a minute or two more.

He remembered the air bags. He remembered the police. He remembered it was raining!!! And then he remembered that we hit a bump and that's why our car got hurt and why mommy got hurt.

I redefined the bump for him and explained the reality to him. And then I was silent.

He was not.

He had so many questions. He had so many more memories. Clearly, his little memory was a lot bigger than I ever realized.

And my little bubble burst.

I lived in this bubble where I was the only one who any type of clear memory about that.

I lived in this bubble where my child did not carry with him the images of that rainy day.

I lived in a perfect bubble where I was the only one who relived the moments before and after hoping for closure.

And today it burst.

I drive past the site of the accident on a fairly regular basis and it's only been recently that I have gotten to the point where I don't always go back to the seconds where I was on the phone with my mother crying hysterically while some random EMT's hands were bracing my head and neck.

It's only recently that I can drive by it and not grip my steering wheel so incredibly tightly that my knuckles turn white.

It's only recently that I've stopped being able to feel the freezing cold rain on my face as they pulled me from car while my kids watched from the safety of their father's and a random police officer's arms.

The events of that day cannot be changed. I really just hope for my son's sake that they can be forgotten.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Opportunity Answered and Diarrhea Days

When my dad worked in corporate America he used have what he would affectionately refer to as 'diarrhea days'. These were the days where he had a big meeting or presentation to do and his nerves were getting the best of him.

I've never really had diarrhea days but I do, on first days of new beginnings, sometimes allow my nerves to get the best of me.

Today was one of those days.

Last week I was approached by the Athletic Director from the school where I am currently working. I had been talking with him about a coaching position for next year and I figured he wanted to talk about that a bit more.


He pulled me aside and asked me to be the head coach for one of junior varsity teams this season. As in SPRING season.

I was shocked and really quite flattered.

I told him I needed to think about it.

I have been coaching, or helping to coach, an independent girls' rowing team and I loved the girls I was working with. I was not a huge fan of the head coach or her methods but she was an Olympic rower and deserved respect for that. Plus, she was technically sound with her teaching she just didn't know how to reach the girls and it was becoming problematic.

I spent a day or two going back and forth between the two positions. I talked with anyone and everyone I could about.

I prayed about it.

I asked for guidance.

I looked for someone to make the decision for me.

This was a head coaching job. Sure it's JV but it's still a head job and it could open a lot more doors to me in terms of coaching.

It's a team that I would see the girls on a daily basis in and out of the classroom.

It's in a place where I am very happy working and I enjoy the people I work with.

And it came with a paycheck that was significantly more than what I was possibly going to make as a rowing assistant coach.

The job had been offered to me last Monday. I walked into school on Wednesday unsure of what I was going to do. I was still looking for that sign that told me that this opportunity was for me.

I went to Mass, as I do every morning, and I asked for guidance. I asked for anything.

I came out of Mass and headed for my mailbox and then up to my classroom and I ran into- literally- the Athletic Director.

And it was my sign.

Our AD generally does not come into work before 9 because he's there late with the teams. For whatever reason he was in early that morning and he was in my path.

And he stopped me. And he asked me.

And I told him I wanted the job.

And it felt right. It felt good.

I quit my rowing job and it was hard but they completely understood why I needed to take this opportunity.

I met with my new team. I met with the varsity coach. I began my weekend knowing that today, Monday, would be my first practice.

Today, was my version of a diarrhea day.

I am completely confident in my skills. I am confident in my teaching abilities. I am confident in my motivational and team building techniques.

But, my God, was I nervous today!!

I have a wonderful group of girls that I'm working with. I am supported by so many people, both in and out of the athletic department. I have everything at my fingertips that I could need to make this a success.

But I was so nervous!

All day long my stomach was in knots. All day long I agonized over how practice would run and what we were going to do. I worried about how the girls would react to a new coach almost mid-way through the season.

And then we got to practice.

It was shaky at first. My two oldest girls stepped up to the plate, literally and figuratively, and really ran the practice with guidance from me.

And then it was smooth. Not seamless, but smooth.

We meshed. We laughed. We learned about each other and we started fresh.

And the diarrhea day was over and I could laugh because there was very little reason for it.

Last week, opportunity came knocking and I was quite unsure about whether or not I wanted to answer it.

I am so glad I did.

Although, tomorrow will probably be another diarrhea day.

Friday, March 20, 2009


It is right now 8:19am on Friday March 20th. In approximately 7 minutes my daughter will turn 2 years old.

2 years ago at this very moment, I had not started to push yet.

2 years ago at this very moment, I had no idea whether my daughter would be ok when she came out.

2 years ago at this very moment, I had only met one of my children.

My daughter was born on the first day of Spring and when she came into this world she brought with her endless energy, abounding laughter, occasional tears and incredible love.

She brought new life with her, just as Spring brings new life each year.

During the evenings before both of my children's birthdays this year I have been keenly aware of their birth experiences. Last night was no different.

I wanted my daughter's birth to be so very different from my son's. I wanted an experience that I could cherish because it would not be laden with medical worries and professionals.

That was not the case, but I continually cherish the experience.

As my husband and I prepared our children's lunches last evening I looked at the clock, it was around 11:15pm, and I said to him, "Do you realize two years ago at this very moment I was in the midst of a practically natural childbirth?"

"Yeah, except for that pesky pitocin." He replied.

He was right, both of our children were aided by pitocin. But regardless of that fact, I had a pretty incredible birth experience with our daughter.

I was induced at 5.5 weeks early due to major complications and I was convinced that my baby would suffer because of it.

I labored under the assumption that she would be quickly shown to me and then taken from me so as to be cared for in her preemie state. I listened as doctors and nurses talked about dropping heart rates and applied oxygen to help keep me and my peanut stable.

I heard emergency c-section more than once and neonatologist a handful of times.

There was no quiet in my room that night. My labor began at 8pm on March 19th and it ended at 8:25am on March 20th.

And in all of the chaos that was the last ten minutes of my labor (my OB was nowhere to be found and we had to pull a random doctor in off the floor to deliver my daughter) I found that the birth experience matters very little. I cherish every moment of it because it is mine and my daughter's, but in the end it is the final product that makes the difference.

My daughter was perfect. She was tiny and reminded me of raw Perdue oven stuffer, but she was perfect. She rarely cried those first days and weeks. She mostly slept and ate.

And she defied all odds placed against her.

Every single child is a miracle.

My daughter is no exception.

There are days when I want to take her little red head and put her in room, because life would be easier and, well, cleaner, but those are the days that, later on, make me laugh the hardest.

There are days when all I want is for her to crawl on to my lap and sit there with her head on my chest so I can feel her breathing fall in rhythm with mine.

There are days when all I can see is that teeny tiny chicken laying in her soothing motions glider, aka my LIFESAVER for the first few weeks, fast asleep.

My daughter and I are not defined by our birth experiences but we are joined by them.

For a very long time I could not fathom what life would be like with two children. I was not ready for my daughter when she came along.

Now, I cannot fathom life without her.

2 years and 15 minutes ago my daughter came into this world an scrawny little thing and I have tried to cherish every moment that I could since then.

Happy Birthday My Devilish Little Peanut!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Opportunity Knocks

Do you always answer when opportunity comes knocking?

I've been offered an opportunity that I did not think I would be offered. Actually, I never even considered the possibility of it being offered so when it came knocking yesterday afternoon, I was quite surprised.

It's an opportunity to do something I would really enjoy doing.

It's an opportunity to be with people that I really enjoy being with.

It's an opportunity that could open a lot more doors for me.

It's also an opportunity that requires me to withdraw myself from something else that has been important to me.

It could mean letting people down and upsetting them.

It could mean anger and sadness.

Over the past day I've been thinking and talking and praying about this opportunity.

I made a commitment to this other thing. I gave my word but in recent weeks I've found myself unhappy and struggling with what it is I have to do. I dread the time that I'm there and I try to find ways to get out of it.

But I gave my word.

This new opportunity would mean opportunity for my family, as well as me. It would mean a lot of time put in on my part and compromise on my husband and family's parts. But I truly believe the benefits will outweigh the negatives.

I'd like to say that I've already made my decision but I'm not 100% sure.

Do I take the road that is best for me and my family and seize this opportunity or do I stick with the commitment that is making me unhappy and that I'm not moving forward in?

As I wrote that line above I could only think of one thing,

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

I'm not sure what road I'm taking just yet. I'm pretty sure I know what road I want to take.

I hear opportunity knocking, I'm just trying to figure out how to answer it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Growing Words

"Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will."
-Jawaharal Nehru

Sandi over at A Widow for One Year wrote about her job the other day. She's a middle school teacher and people often ask her how she can work with that age group. She loves it.
I teach sophomores in high school. People often ask me how I can teach high school. How do I deal with teenagers all day long? I love it.

Sophomore year in high school was the hardest year for me. Sophomore year was about chemistry and geometry. I barely left my room that year because I was grounded so much for grades- or lack thereof. It sucked.

I start off the year talking to my students about the fact that I know this will be the hardest year for them. I share my experiences with them. I look at them and I wonder how many of them 'get it'. I wonder if these young people, that were just a few short months earlier freshmen in high school, understand the enormity of the months ahead of them.

Each day in my classroom my students receive a quote on the board. They are to write a reaction to that quote. They can write about how they don't like the quote or how they like the quote. They can reflect on what the quote says or how it applies to their life somehow.

When I began reading the reactions I was disappointed by what I was seeing. The kids were simply writing about how they did not understand the quote. They wrote about the superficial and the simple. Even the most simple quote ("We secure our friends not by accepting favors but by doing them." Thucydides) came with a reaction such as, "I do not get what this quote is saying."

As time as gone on I have become continually amazed at how my students have changed. They have come to see the words on the board and on the page as something more than just words. They have come to see the power of the meaning behind the words. I am reading reactions that knock me off my feet. They are coming to understand things that they can only know because they are learning and growing with each passing day.

People constantly ask me how I can stand teaching high school. How do I deal with teenagers all day?

When I walk into my classroom in August and September and I see these young people in front of me I wonder if I'll be able to deal with them for the next 10 months. I wonder how I am possibly going to be able to teach them anything.

When I walk out of my classroom in June I am in awe of the transformation that my kids have gone through with very little help from me. I help them learn. I introduce them to new information. I help them in any way that I can. And they run with that and become awe inspiring individuals that I am proud to have known.

"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in."
-Mitch Albom

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Playing Dress Up

For the longest time after my son was born, I kept waiting for his "real" mom to come and pick him up or come home. I waited, like the babysitter at the window at the end of a long night, for the parents to come home and relieve me of my childcare duties.

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but I did eventually come to realize that I was NOT this child's babysitter and he was staying with us forever. But it took me quite a long time to think of myself a "mom".

This past weekend I went out with an old friend of mine. We went out for drinks and dinner and good conversation. We were going to a new-ish bar/restaurant that another friend of ours just recently opened. It was nothing fancy but I knew I wanted to look nice, not a sweatshirt and jeans type of place.

I chose my outfit carefully. I really only have one or two pairs of jeans that fit me now (yay, me...22 pounds gone!!). So, I chose the pair that I thought was dressier and a shirt and a nice sweater, all paired with a fabulous pair of pumps that I got on sale at NY&Co. for Five bucks!! It was a mix of things I would wear to work and things I'd wear out. Honestly, it was a nice outfit...I knew it would look good together and look good on me.

I took the kids to my parents, my dad was going to watch them for the evening, and I dressed there. I blew out my hair so that it was mostly straight. I put on my makeup- a little bit more than I do for work. And finally, I put on my clothes.

I looked really nice.

I looked good. Like good enough to go and pick up a guy at a bar good. Like what I would have worn had I been single and going out with my single friends for the evening.

And then I looked in the mirror a little deeper and chuckled to myself, "I feel like I'm playing dress up."

I go out with friends and family and my husband on a regular basis and I try to look nice but generally I don't dress myself in a way that reminds me of my bar hopping college days. The other night, I reminded myself of that former person.

I felt like, in my tighter than normal jeans and my tight black t-shirt and black pumps, I was playing a part that was no longer mine to be played. I was playing dress up just as I had years ago with the clothes in my mother's closet.

And I didn't know what to feel beyond that.

Part of me felt really good that I did look so good.

Part of me felt like a fool.

Part of me was just happy that none of my outfit had stains on it.

It was weird.

It was a strange feeling to be standing there in my parents' bathroom and come to the realization that it didn't matter how I looked to anyone else- I wasn't dressing to impress anyone or catch anyone's eyes. What mattered was that I was happy with how I looked and it made me feel good.

But I felt like I should have been wearing something different.

From the moment I realized I was not my child's babysitter I have fought against every "mom" stereotype there is. I did not want the "mom" haircut or to wear the "mom" jeans or drive the "mom" car. Two out of three isn't bad, right? I just felt like a part of me did not have a right to dress that way. That I should have been wearing something else.

My mom-voice told me that I looked like I was dressing up for that part that would never be mine again but my 29 year old woman voice told me I looked good.

I listened to the latter.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Is Anyone Else Tired?

I was having a conversation with someone awhile ago and they made a comment about working parents and how they (the person I was conversing with, not the working parents) did not feel that working parents were "Full-Time Parents". The fact that working parents, and when I say working parents I am referring to parents that work outside of the home or work from home (stay at home parents are absolutely working parents, as well!), have their kids in daycare or school and are not with them for the majority of the day made this person feel as if their (the working parents) parenting was only done part-time.

I have had part-time jobs. I've had part-time jobs as a teenager and as an adult. If this is a part-time job then somebody re-write my job description because I'm WAY into overtime pay right now!

My kids are in daycare three days a week. I work a full day as a teacher, my husband works a full day as a manager, I coach for two to three hours in the afternoon and then at night I have grad school work to do and papers to grade. My weekends and days off are spent with my kids because my husband works and even if he didn't work they would be spent with our kids!!

When I am at work my kids do not cease to be mine. I do not stop worrying about them and being concerned about how they are acting or doing. I check my cell phone 59 times a day to make sure daycare hasn't called to tell me my child is sick or hurt. No, I'm not home with them all day. I can't be- it's not who I am, nor is it who I want to be. But just because I'm not does not make me a part-time parent. My husband and I are doing what we feel is best for our children and I think that, more than anything else, makes us full-time parents. My choice to work and send my kids to school does not make me any better or worse than the parents who choose not to send their kids to school. We are all doing what is best for our kids. And that makes us all full-time parents.

When I sit down and consider all of that, I don't see part-time written on any of that or fitting into any of that.

And I'm tired.

No, I'm sorry, I'm exhausted.

Seriously, I am dead on my freaking feet.

And unfortunately, I feel like my parenting and everything else is suffering because I am so damned tired!

I'm really not willing to give anything up and in reality, I can't give anything up. I love my job and we need my job- for money and sanity. I love coaching although I'm hoping for a new coaching job in the next few months. And I, of course, love my kids and my husband- they are my priority.


Maybe this week has been particularly exhausting. We've had some big shake-ups at work and I've been pushing for this new coaching job and the kids have been extra off the wall crazy and the husband's work schedule has just been a pain in the ass lately. Maybe I'm just at Friday and I need to sleep for 42 hours undisturbed.

Anyone think that's going to happen?

No? Me neither.

I'm not tired of being a parent. I'm not tired of being a wife. I'm not tired of being a teacher or a coach. I am just plain, out, tired!!

And to top it all off, this weekend we lose an hour. Sometimes I wonder if God is playing a cruel joke on me with this whole "time" concept. I just need an extra hour or two...and I'm sure you do, too. 120 minutes in the grand scheme of things doesn't seem like a lot...I mean really, he doesn't even have to pay me that part-time wage I've been getting for only being a parent when my kids aren't in school.

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