Thursday, February 8, 2018

It's Not Just a Door...

I bet this looks like just a door to you.  You may think it’s nothing special, just another classroom door that could lead to countless classrooms across the US.  But you would be wrong.  This particular door shows so much more than just the opening your kids walk through everyday to learn reading and writing.  See how the lights are still on on the other side?  This picture was taken last night hours after the laughter and chatter had left the building.  Behind that door is a teacher who is putting in their 11th hour of the day at school and still has work to be done.  The teacher is correcting papers from the 170 students they see each day, making sure that everyone’s grades get entered, and pouring over the papers to try and understand what’s working and what the students need extra help on, feeling like they themselves have failed as a teacher when one of their students fail. 
            Head across the hallway and you find another teacher just locking up their room.  They’ve been looking over state testing scores, checking to see who is progressing and what topics need to be brushed up on.  If you head up the stairs a science teacher is in the gym for the Science Fair.  She unselfishly gave up her own personal time to sit with the projects so that people could come and see them after their own workday. 
            As you drive away you can see there are a few lone lights still on in classrooms up the hill.  And this is just one night.  Other nights or early mornings you will find music teachers prepping for concerts and plays, math teachers working hard to become familiar with a new curriculum so they can teach it to the kids and make sure they excel.  Teachers grading papers, writing tests, making lesson plans, in meetings, working on report cards, reading research papers, creating activities, worrying about why Susie doesn’t seem to be herself lately or why Tommy hasn’t been turning in assignments.  They want to make sure each child knows their worth, knows they are loved, knows they can do great things while still making sure they know about the Constitution, and cell division, and past participles. 
            The door in the picture mentioned above belongs to a 5th grade classroom.  The teacher behind that door is my husband.  The teacher across the hall and up the stairs are my coworkers, the lights on in classrooms up the hill belong to my friends, and the teachers you will find all over the US are my mother, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, brothers-in-law, neighbors and cousins.  I have watched first-hand my entire life the love and dedication that is poured out of teachers over so many young minds.  I have seen the tears of frustration and the tears of joy.  Teaching is not for the faint of heart. 
            To all the teachers out there who are feeling exhausted, spread-thin, wondering if you’re doing anything right or making a difference at all, please know that you.are.amazing.
You are doing some of the most noble work that all too often is underappreciated and for what it’s worth, I appreciate you and what you do. 

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"...But I Don't Feel That Way

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  At least that’s what the popular Christmas song tells me.  The lyrics of this Christmas classic go on to tell of ‘kids jingle belling’ and ‘everyone telling you be of good cheer’. “It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”

Can I be honest?  Bah-hum-bug.  I can hear you all now… “What a scrooge!”  Trust me, I feel like a scrooge.  But let me explain.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  We used to gather with my entire extended family at my aunt and uncle’s place on the lake.  The time spent there would be filled with ice skating, and cooking, and talking, and eating (so. much. eating.), and card games until the early hours of the morning.  We would come home from church and eat meatballs, the cousins would all put on our matching pajamas from Grandma, and everyone would pile around the big Christmas tree while we opened presents, always in order from youngest to oldest, one by one until all had been opened.  Some of my most favorite memories of my childhood are tied to those activities.

But it’s been awhile since we had a Christmas like that.  It’s not a bad thing necessarily, it’s just different now.  Family members have moved far away, we’ve lost a precious aunt and grandma isn’t here anymore.  The cousins have grown up, some in college, some married, and some having kids of their own. 

The thing is, I thought I’d be apart of the group “having kids of their own” this year.  A year ago today was our first and only frozen embryo transfer.  I can recall that day with crystal clear precision.  How I felt when I woke up that morning, what I ate for breakfast at the diner we went to, anxiously waiting in the procedure room, taking one last picture with Joe as ‘just the two of us’, driving home but making sure we stopped by McDonalds first for some salty french fries (infertility superstition hocus-pocus), and the 3 days of bed rest that followed.

The Christmas season is hard for infertiles.  It’s a time of conflicting emotions because everyone seems to be filled with holiday cheer and you know you should be too, but you just. can’t.   It’s the little things.  You’re at a holiday party and someone starts flipping through pictures on their phone of when they took their kids to see Santa last week and little Tommy cried the entire time.  Or you receive the Christmas cards from people you don’t really talk to and it’s their kids’ faces plastered all over the front of it.  Or when you gather for Christmas and you’re the only one without kids running around. 

Christmas is a definitive marker of another year gone by.  Another year of hope that has passed and it becomes easier to believe that every Christmas will be like this…childless.  Looking back I wish we would not have done our transfer so incredibly close to Christmas.  This year it seems to be consuming me, the reminders of what was happening a year ago.  Full of so much hope and excitement only to be completely crushed 4 days after Christmas.  Those hopes just like a Christmas tree that a few days earlier was pretty and shiny and brought such joy and now lays on the curb stripped of its’ lights and cheery exterior.

By no means am I saying that Christmas celebrations shouldn’t happen because those struggling with infertility and loss are sad.  Please do not take it that way.  But maybe this can be a reminder that the holidays are hard for some people, and that’s ok.  Some will be celebrating Christmas this year without a loved one for the first time.  Some are missing someone they lost years ago.  Some have suffered great loss this past year, some had high hopes that this Christmas would be different and it’s just not.  Some have suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy loss and the thought of celebrating anything at all seems unthinkable.  Allow these people the grace to grieve.  Use this holiday season as the opportunity to show God’s love to those grieving in a very real way.  The holidays are tough…be the one to remind her that she is tougher.