Thursday, 29 August 2013

Spiderman Backpacks and Indoor Shoes: Notes from a First-Time Nervous Teacher-Mom

1. My Baby

I remember when he needed me for everything. Eating, drinking, pooping, loving. EVERYTHING. Forgive me when I over zealously protect him, or eye other small kindergarteners suspiciously, and loudly demand to you that he is clearly a genius. It's all a cover for the fact that, I'm a little sketched out about the truth that I know in my heart as a teacher - he's ready to learn to do things on his own.  He's ready to learn to read novels and write literature and to solve complex equations, and change the world.  But I know something as a Mama, I never knew as a teacher before - he'll always be my baby.

2. Look at that Face

When he was about ONE, I seemed to think that things like Kindergarten and friends, and school aged childhood was a millennium away.  Please understand that this has all cropped up on me kind of quickly.  As a teacher, I never really thought about that before - but it's a big change for families who, up to this Sunny September morning, have always just been at home, safe and always protected.  Be patient with me, but when images of childhood rejection, frustration and hurt fill my imagination, I wish that he could have stayed this size forever so that no one can ever hurt him.  As a teacher, it is an important part of my job to teach students to treat each other with love, kindness and respect that they will take with them into adulthood.  SO, I know you'll do that too - I know.

 3. Too Cool

I want to tell you how neat he is.  How he says the funniest things, the sweetest things.  I want to make sure you know that he is so creative, so interesting, and so intelligent. I want you to know that I crave each moment of the day that I get to spend with him, and I'm a little jealous of you.  I'm jealous of the little moments that I'm going to miss, now that he's with you. The moments that might not be quite the same when he tells me about them later.  But, as a teacher I know that you treasure things too.  That they are the moments that build up a career, and give you the ability and strength to go back day after day, and bring light and learning to a new set of brand new learners every year.  I'll know it, when he goes on and on about how wonderful you are - his Kindergarten teacher - and know that he is learning and growing and changing.  

4. Precious/Precocious

Believe most things he says, and deeply question others.  

I promise that he does more than play wii all day long.

When he corrects you, or defends his pen grip, or reminds you about something that you forgot to do, or tells you I already know that...remember that I thank you in advance for your kind smile, and the eye roll you kept in your head.

If during carpet time he keeps getting up and leaving the circle to fight invisible villians behind the play house - he comes by it honestly, and is compelled by his imagination to take action. 


5. Helping Hands, Willing Hearts

I promise that when he's had a difficult day I will listen and not be defensive.  I defer myself to your expertise.

I promise not to always blame the other kid. 

I promise to listen with an open heart, to hear what you have to say, and pay attention to your recommendations.


6.  First Kindergarten - then the WORLD.

Maybe it's just nerves because this first for me, and for him is the beginning of a LOT of firsts.  It is  unequivocal evidence that he is growing up. His future - his adventure is what he needs to chase now.  It is just the start of me letting him go into the world, letting him experience new things and do things without me.  To fulfill the purpose that God has for him. I'm glad that I have people like you to help me along. 

His little hands stole my heart...and his little feet ran away with it.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Consequence Road

Lately when I get up in the morning and those stressed out little thoughts that push at the back of my mind start up, You didn't get a call yesterday, School is starting in a few days - what makes you think they'll call you? All those people who told you this is where you'd be, we're right. Don't you wish you'd listened to them.  It's hard to remember when this happens that this is what I chose. I chose to walk away. I know why I chose to walk, I think it was because I finally decided that I am worth something - and no one person is going to make me feel otherwise.  But, that's not always easy to remember when I stare things like possible long term unemployment, making ends meet, and watching my dreams  fade to the background for another year, in the face. 

But, I've been learning something.  To risk sounding cliched - it does seem to be about the journey and not the destination.  There are things I want to accomplish in my life, places I want to visit and goals that I want to achieve, but today is just one step.  As I cuddled with my kids on the couch, I felt new hope.  I enjoyed being with them, and even though it's not achieving one of my big dreams, I achieved a small one.  Every now and then I like to look back to my past self, and send a message from my future self.  I looked back at the past self that was worried that I would never have children, or a family, and I said to her - look what you've been blessed with.  So, maybe, sitting here there's a message from a future self that tells me the lyrics of my daughter's current favorite tune.  Don't worry. Be happy. May as well be happy - the alternative kind of stinks.  

Consequence road isn't necessarily a bad road to walk.  It doesn't seem to be a steady walk either, emotions present themselves as  a consistent challenge, and there's always that sense of entitlement or jealousy, and self pity, not to mention the nagging concern that I've put myself into a hole I can't get out of.  But, I'm starting to realize that's just a step along the journey.  The adventure is out there, and maybe, just maybe it doesn't look like I think that it does.  I forget to easily that God is the one who makes the difference, for me and for everyone else.  I don't understand what exactly he's working on, but it's something, and it's made up of moments that count.  Moments that will make the dreams better, the goals richer, when they do come. I know I'll appreciate them more, and I think that's a blessing.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Legacy of the Unwanted

Being a daughter isn't as easy as it looks.

Dear O,

Do you know that I wanted you, even before I knew if you were there? Even before I felt you move, stretch and kick at the boundaries of your dark, warm, snug world, I wanted to hold you. Did you know that we come from a family of beautiful, strong, intelligent women? That imprinted deep on the fabric of who we are, is grace, laughter, and compassion? We come from a legacy of women who have never had it easy, but who never give up - accomplishing many things in the quiet, dignified strength that women come by as a gift of our creation.

Sometimes, my Love, history is difficult to hear, hard to imagine.  It is something I am just learning myself recently, that our family actually isn't perfect, or always right.  We've done things, unintentionally or not, that cause wounds and scars, my Mother's Mother, my Mother, and me. In our brokenness, we've learned lies to be truth, I'm not wanted, I'm not worthy, I'm ugly, they go on, but I am here to tell you, they aren't true. Because we all wish that we could reach into the past, and correct the mistakes we've made, I want to get an early start on things, before the future becomes a past I can no longer change. Hurts run deep, my little one, and we can give excuses for hurting people, or brush them off as nothing, or hide behind them, but the problem is, those hurts can shape who we turn out to be.  Healing takes time, and though we are blessed that this healing has begun for us, it is my hope that you won't have to go through a healing process, like the one we have been experiencing.

Do you know that one of my favorite things to do when I was growing up, was listen to my Nona tell me stories about how things were for her, growing up? They made me laugh, I remember, but the thing about the past is, that we talk about the laughter more - letting it out, so that it floats around us, and holds us.  It gives us a sense of humanity and connection, but I think in some ways, it makes the hurts bury themselves deeper and deeper into those dark places in our hearts.  I can't admit some things, saying them out loud feels like they might make my chest explode. Always know that you can speak those things to me, that I will never judge you.  I can't always promise that I will understand why things happen, or be able to explain why you are hurting, or that I will even be able to make it better, or go away, but like someone once said to me, speaking it out loud takes its power to hurt away. I'm learning that judging a person, particularly someone close to you, leads to anger and resentment. But, when we can see each other in the broader perspective of our humanity it makes forgiveness something we can offer, when we're ready. Not easy, but necessary as we reach for freedom.

Here's the good part.  God has blessed our family. He saw my Mom, your Nona, in the midst of her hurt and circumstances and he loved her and wanted her more than anything in the world, and he met her - and saved her life forever.  She introduced me to Him, and I will introduce Him to you as you grow. Because the truth is, not only are we wanted, we are loved and cherished by Him. Do you know how much he loves us? He even brought my Nona, your Great-Grandmother to Him through my Mom. Why? Why take up the broken lot of us? Certainly not because of what we can do for him, for no other reason except that He loves us. He has changed things for us, we are found and not forgotten.  We are not left behind, but remembered.  We are important enough that He recognizes things happening in our lives like birthdays, and weddings and babies, he even pays attention to the smallest requests we make, like I'd really like fresh flowers on the table when guests arrive - and THAT happens.  In this we can realize the truth. We are not unwanted - it's actually the very opposite of that.  God wants us so much that he can't hold himself back - in fact he sent his son Jesus to earth to sacrifice his life so that we can be put in right standing before God.

My Dearest O, the legacy of the women of this family is strong.  The legacy of our family is Christ, his love and freedom in him.  Remember that no matter how this world tries to shape you, or change you, that is the truth. 

Love always, my precious girl,
Your Mama

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Five Best Things about a Vacation from Uncertainty

5. The world is bigger on the Open Road...

There's no place like home.  It's true, but as much as home is safety, security, family and friends - it tends to be a small place where it's easy to focus on my own life, and it's ups and's a place where wondering what exactly I'm going to do come September, can be overwhelming.  

But, packing the car to the brim, loading the kids up with Gravol, DVD's, and dinner of champions - pretzels and popcorn, and driving into the sunset lets me leave home behind, just for a little while. It's easy to forget the future and live right now when the blue mountains are edging over the horizon.  

4. Where the heck are we? 

In our excitement to get away, we forgot to check which hotel we would be spending the night in, when we reached Hinton. After a great deal of debate, we had to track down some open wifi before we were able to get ourselves settled in the Hotel we'd booked for the night. 

It wasn't the hotel I thought I'd booked. Lakeview Inn and Suites in Hinton has this awesome continental breakfast that is more like a real breakfast than a continental one. We accidentally booked at Days Inn, where they had a more typical continental breakfast, however, when I looked into the fridge at some of the available options I actually did not recognize the item that was supposed to be "breakfast sausage." 

But overall, it turned out to be a nice stay. It wasn't what we were expecting, or what we were looking forward to, but it turned out to be alright. It's sort of what I am thinking for this time in my life.  This wasn't what I was expecting or even where I wanted to be.  In fact, my plan was to hold onto my job until another one came along - and the harder I tried, the more things just didn't go that way. But, it doesn't mean that things are finished, or falling apart, it just means that the path is different from what I expected. 

3. Honey, did you pack my boxers?

Inevitably when I am in charge of packing I forget something, even in spite of the several lists I continually make. I usually remember, right when my husband looks at me with imploring eyes over his backpack, that I did indeed forget something that is HIS. 

It's a good opportunity to beat myself up for not paying attention, or to try and blame my forgetfulness on someone else.  Without fail, my husband usually just smiles, and shakes his head.  He gives me that look that says, really? Then he improvises, he never gets upset with me, or says anything unkind. It's more like a game for him, to see how long it will take into our trip to figure out exactly what I've forgotten to pack.

I think that in life we put huge expectations on ourselves, and when things don't go the way we plan, we spend the time being self deprecating.  I have a strong tendency to put myself down and be critical of my own attempts at getting things right, instead of just smiling and laughing it off.  Something I've noticed is that life often offers second chances, and those first attempts, where I feel like I have screwed everything up, help me out when a second chance rolls around.

2. Reality Sticks - Hope Slides

There's nothing like being in a tent during a thunder storm.  Nature is sharing the same air, in all its loud and pounding glory, and the only thing that is protecting you is a remarkably thin layer of canvas and plastic poles. Yet, the tent held strong, and the rain just slid down off the sides. 

Reality means sticking things out, even when they look bad.  It's not always easy to face, and it can sound really frightening but in the same breath, if I can let myself go from the fear and embrace the adventure of being stuck in a tent during a thunder storm, the experience becomes something completely different - exciting and kind of exhilarating all at the same time. Reality means dealing with what is in front of you, for me, it's finding a new job.  But, as I am very slowly able to change my perspective about finding a new job, and instead of seeing it as terrifying, and I start to look at it as something of an adventure I start to feel hopeful - excited and exhilarated about the future.  

It makes me remember that good things really do come my way, more often than I recognize, and though the waiting CAN be agonizing, it doesn't have to be.  Reality gives me a daily choice, and since I'm waiting anyway for things to work themselves out, I may as well choose to be happy and enjoy life while I am waiting. 


1. Love, Laughter and Family

I love family - and all of us getting together one weekend out of the year has become as important to many of us as the big celebrations like Christmas.  We all congregate in the remote area of Green Lake BC and let the eating, playing, talking and laughing commence. It's a three day party, and though our lives go in thirty eight different directions all year long, in coming together to refresh ourselves, it doesn't take much time at all to catch up and start to enjoy one another again. 

It's this kind of support network we all require.  I always find that there is a wisdom and history about the people around me that let me know that no matter what happens, everything is going to be alright.  Bad things happen to people - this weekend alone consisted of one tumble off the dock, a few scraped knees, a stomach bug, one relay race crash, and a completely removed toe nail (Which made for an interesting and informative lesson on bandaging). But, in each of these instances people emerged from their painful moments with smiles and positive attitudes, not letting anything get in the way of the palpable fun in the air. 

So, bad things happen, but when there are people around who can lift you up and support you, an outlook can be changed in an instant. Having positive attitude doesn't mean that you don't have to face bad things, it just means facing bad things in a different way.  Everyone has problems in life, you can't escape them, but the way that we face them makes all of the difference. 

all the sins we see

He raped me. My friend, sweet and gentle, said it straight out like she was talking about the movie we'd seen not too long ago toget...