Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not helpful…

What not to say to someone who has either a.) miscarried or is b.) adopting…
Unfortunately, I tend to hear comments in both these categories. Let’s start with category A… miscarriage.
Never say:

  • It’s God’s will. – Okay, I know that this may or may not be true, but it just isn’t helpful. God is loving and does not put His children through this just because. He may allow it for a greater purpose, because He sees what lies ahead, but I certainly don’t think He wills a pregnancy and consequently ends it. Just like a parent wouldn’t put a kid in a tree house or on a bike without training wheels and push them off just so they can learn the lesson from breaking an arm. You may allow the natural consequences, but you don’t force the pain.
  • You can always have another. – Duh. This is by far one of the dumbest things. I know that. Let me go hit your dog with my car and tell you that. From the moment knowledge of that little life is growing, there’s a bond. There’s love. There’s attachment. There’s visions of curls and eyelashes and little toe nails. And demeaning that loss is grossly stupid of a supposed well wisher.
  • You can always adopt.- Like those who go through infertility (read: me), those of us who lose a child (read:me) ache the loss of the ability to control our own bodies- to use our reproductive systems the way they are “supposed” to work. We hurt from the fact that something isn’t working how it is supposed to. Plus, it’s not always about the baby. It’s grieving the process. The pregnancy experience. Labor and delivery. The whole thing. Not  to mention, for those of us who adopt (read: me), that comment takes a whole new level of offense. Adoption is not a lesser choice. This makes it sound like the “next best thing”- like picking Gain on the laundry aisle when you really wanted Tide. So hurtful. Adoption is different. Not the next best thing.
  • At least it was early.- I don’t care how far along you are, losing a child hurts. Period.

I know that’s just scratching the surface of it, but those are the main ones that get to me, the ones that make me force a smile and walk away before I show a side I shouldn’t. Now… Category B. Adoption.

  • Where’s her real mom? – You’re looking at her, Chump. I know, I know. You mean biological. But what real insinuates is that I’m fake, you know, pretend. And it doesn’t roll like that. Be factual. Biological, natural, first- those are all perfectly factual ways to describe birthparents. Use correct terms, because your words are more loaded than you can understand, and though it might just seem like I’m being sensitive, it goes so much deeper than your curious conversation.
  • How much did she cost? – It’s one thing to inquire into the financial burden of adopting if you feel like it might be something you are called to do. But implying that an adopted child was purchased like you buy shoes is down right ignorant and really mean.
  • She looks like she could be your own! – She IS MY OWN! See the first bullet point, please. She’s mine, I’m hers. And yes, she does ironically favor me and her father. It’s totally okay to point out the fact, in fact, we all agree- it’s cool!- but choose your words carefully.

There are many other lists like this out there, but I just needed to vent my personal peeves as conversations in my life tend to keep drudging these up. And being someone who deals with infertility AND recurrent miscarriages AND adoption… I just seem to get it all around when it comes to tread-carefully-when-discussing subjects. But, if by chance you do use one of these frustrating comments, I won’t be angry for long. Because so many people don’t get it- it’s not malice, it’s ignorance. If you’re reading this and you got married, had a baby, and life went on as typical, know that there is a very real part of me that envies that. That ability to bluntly put it, marry, conceive when you’re ready, and build a family. It is emotionally exhausting to work and work to get pregnant and have so many negative tests, so much money spent, so much anxiety on that rollercoaster, and miscarriage is like a freefall. Adoption is a similarly scary journey- like a road trip in a car with no brakes. And here we are going through ALL of it. Simultaneously.  I don’t mean to be sensitive. I’m strong enough to “grow a pair” and deal with ignorant comments like the ones I listed. It just adds to the wear and tear, though, and it helps to have more build-ups than break-downs while you’re on these paths. I know it’s all going to be worth it in the end, and I know that we are supported, no matter how many times I hear those comments that make me cringe. We are still blessed. In fact, the more I type the more I feel kinda lucky that our faith and our marriage is strong enough to battle these foes, to hold on to hope, and to stay fearless. He has not brought us to something we can’t handle. He gives us fortitude to press forward, annoying & ignorant comments or not.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Why I won’t teach forever.

When I’m off of school (either for a holiday or for personal leave such as recently), I rarely get that “oh, I’m ready to go back” feeling of missing it that some describe. Often, I wonder about teaching, wondering if I could ever find that I-missed-this feeling. For long, I thought that was simply because I  was at a “rough” school, where I didn’t always feel safe or supported. I thought in the right environment, of course, I’d finally feel that feeling. Nah. Even at what I’d argue is one of the best schools to work in, I don’t feel that. And it dawned on me why. It’s not the climate that I don’t like- it’s the job itself. Teaching is not the same thing it used to be. One spin down the headlines of the local news, one scroll down Twitter or Facebook, and it slaps you in the face. teaching is not safe. Period. It’s now in that same category as police officers and firefighters and other people who risk life and limb for penny wages.  As a teacher, you are CONSTANTLY judged. Is your teaching style justified by research? Are you meeting the diverse needs of your students? Are you implementing Common Core? Are you following the criterion for 21st century learning?  Now, all of that wouldn’t be so bad if left into that context, however, teaching goes so much deeper. I don’t mind the stress of grading papers, staying abreast of current research, differentiating my instruction… any of that. I am organized, efficient, and I do a dang good job. I love my kids and work hard. But what bothers me is that my every movement is judged. What stores you frequent and what you purchase. Your character is always one accusation away from irreparable harm. One ticked off kid, one infuriated parent away from total annihilation. Even when I get to work at 6:45 and leave at 5:00 or 6:00 most days, not returning that ever so important email or following up on that most pressing issue is ammo for an attack against me as a professional. Who cares that I have a husband and a child and a family, a church, a hobby, a LIFE? I must eat-sleep-and-breathe each child’s problems, intellectually, physically, any issue at home, you name it.Then, in the midst of this, you are expected to be a counselor, a therapist, at any moment’s notice. If a student is bullied, or even suspected of it, we are responsible for action. If a student is having dangerous thoughts, it is up to us, not the parent, to investigate. Say nothing? We are responsible. Say the wrong thing? We are responsible. And then, when the unthinkable happens, we are expected to talk down shooters, jump in front of gunmen. Heck, it were even headlines debating the need to have armed teachers wielding weapons to protect the children they teach. What is this?! You are constantly on the defense. Every single action you take is judged. And sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You can follow every step, every action, each protocol, and things still blow up, and it’s your fault. And if you get support to back you up that you acted as professional and followed said protocol, you’re pretty dang lucky, THAT day. I wanted to teach. Not be a police officer, therapist, or politician. I wanted to teach. And teaching is the last thing a teacher is allowed to focus on in this new reality. I am not superwoman. I don’t have a 6th sense to the emotional needs of each of the near 100 kids I interact with daily, though I try. I can’t fix scheduling problems, change administrative decisions, provide resources that aren’t available, and I can’t make a student who is unwilling to learn succeed. I can’t make a turnip bleed. I can’t be a I do try though. Again, I love the school where I work now, and for now, I will continue to go to school each day and do my very best to help my students learn and grow. For now, I will work and work hard at educating and loving the students in my room, My school is a great place to be, But I do find peace in knowing that I won’t teach forever, that one day I’ll turn in my key and back up my books and I’ll dust my hands off and leave the name tag behind, And it’s not because I’ve changed my mind. I didn’t change. My profession changed. I will always be a teacher in my heart. Sadly, though, teachers are not what we are allowed to be.