Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The gift of teaching

My role as a mom is what defines me.  There is no greater feeling than when your kids smile and run toward you with open arms, excited to see you after a brief absence.  I strive each day to become better at creating my definition to the best of my ability. 

But, while 'mom' makes up the greatest part of my persona, I also carry other roles in my bag of tricks.  Another huge piece of my life outside of our home is being a teacher.  I have wanted to teach since I was 5 years old in Mrs. Toney's classroom.  My first grade teacher, Mrs. Boyd added quite a bit of fuel to the fire I carried for the art of teaching.  And so continued the trend, where each year I gleaned more than just an elementary, middle, and high school education from my teachers.  I watched them, studied them, and found ways in nearly every one of them to emulate.  Each of them has become a piece of my teaching quilt with which I wrap myself in confidence each day that I do my work.  In addition, I have encountered some amazing mentors, one of which who has known me since I was in grade school, who have added pieces to my quilt as well.

Teaching a big job.  It's not something I take lightly, especially at this time of year, as I prepare to send my current students on to the next level.  I know I remember my grade school teachers, and I realize that they'll remember something (I hope good!) about me as well.  Next year, the students I taught the very first year of my career are preparing to graduate and enter into the next phase of their lives.  Through the gloriousness of social networking, I am still in touch with a few of them, and there are few greater feelings in the world as a teacher to be in touch with students from previous years.  I can't even verbalize how amazing it is to see them as they grow and recognize that one (or more) of the pages of their lives has been penned by me. 

Tonight, I had the chance to see some of my former students who have moved into middle school.  Tonight, they came back to school to watch our drama club performance of Aladdin.  I have had the supreme privilege of directing the drama club for the past 6 years.  As a third grade teacher, it is fun to be able to work with those students who are in fourth and fifth, because I've known them as students, but now get to see them in a whole new (spot)light.  And, wow.  Did they ever impress me tonight. 

Our cast and crew have worked many hours, listening to me ramble on and on about how to act a particular scene, having to re-do things again and again until they have it *just right*, and learning dozens and dozens of lines and songs to boot.  All for one hour of the most pride-filled moments of their school year.  How do I know?  The smiles on their faces were ear to ear, the excitement and animation they had in their actions and voices as they perfomed for their parents was unparamounted, and the tears in my eyes were not well contained. 

I am so grateful for the dedication of the cast and crew, and the pride with which they carried their performance tonight.  I am grateful for the amazing ladies I co-directed with, and most especially for the parents, grandparents, and other family members who went *above* and beyond in countless ways donating time, money, talents, and labor into making the performance look as amazing as the kids made it sound. 

The gloriousness of being a teacher is that I have the opportunity to shape a piece of the life of a whole child.  Many 'whole childs' (yes, I know...a teacher should know that childs isn't a word...but as I teach my students, a writer has the power of a creative license).  The chance to inspire just one of the countless kids I've worked with in drama club and taught in my classroom is a precious gift to me, that fills me with pride in a way that is reminiscent of how I feel as a mom. 

There is no greater feeling than when your kids smile and run toward you with open arms after a brief absence.  Even if their not technically 'your' kids, and even if that absence extends into months and years.

absolutely incredible scenery painted by the aunt of one of my cast members

our awesome marketplace scene

the desert oasis scene

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pick Me Up

Today was a day devoted to me.  Well, not *just* me, but moms everywhere.  Moms, moms-to-be, and those who act the role of a mom--the most vital of all roles in the world.

Being a mom has only been a part of my resume for the past 6 years (and 5 days).  Earlier this week, we celebrated the day when Gavin was born.  Recently, I spent time (what little I have) looking back over photos from when we became a trio.  All the cliches I heard when Gav was born (and Brynn, and Raegan for that matter) about enjoying every moment because time flies has unfortunately lived up to its bleak reputation.  Taking a few moments to actually reflect on the magic that has been the past 6 years has brought me back to the core of what I strive to be as a mom. 

I know I'm not alone when I say that the day-to-day goings on in our lives can be remeniscent of a three ring circus at times.  Each day, month, year brings us new challenges and hurdles to navigate.  I've been personally working on my reaction to these hurdles, and trying to make adjustments to my approach of said situations.  I've been redefining my definition of 'perfect'...and actually eradicating that from my vocabulary.  Rather than striving for perfection, the goal is 'excellence'.  It's a discussion we've had recently in some of the leadership trainings I'm attending for work, however the carryover and application into my own life is extremely fitting. 

I've spent a lot of 'think time' in some magical ideal world, where three young kids and full time career can somehow equal a spotless home, delicious and healthy homecooked meals prepared every night, and the laundry...ahh, the laundry...well, let's just say that in that world, laundry does itself. 

In this world, I envision so many other households and moms, yet I have struggled for the past 6 years seeing myself in that picture.  Every now and then, I'll get glimmers of hope...meal plans are set and followed through for more than a week, the toy clutter has been somehow restructured into a temporary relief system, and I even get the urge to tackle the laundry until it's *finished*. 

Then, life happens.  And I fall into a cycle of non complacency.  I feel like I'm slacking, and at times, like I'm failing.  Which takes me back to the concept of 'perfection' and its unwelcome presence in my life. 

It's a challenge to shift my focus away from that advantageous existence.  While I don't necessarily feel like my shortcomings are in my role as a mom, I have felt like I'm working toward a greater goal than I'm physically/mentally/emotionally capable of.  And so I strive to find a shift in my thinking.  A 'pick me up' in the way in which I view my successes in my own personal perception of life. 

I have worked for the past 6 years to teach my kids that they need to be confident and self-reliant individuals who accept responsibility for their shortcomings--so they can accomodate.  Why is it so hard for me to practice what I preach? 

Today, my dear friend stopped by our house to drop off Gavin's birthday gift, along with gifts for each of my girls (she's the most thoughtful and considerate person I know).  We were chatting about how quickly time has passed.  She became the first person with whom I became very close with after moving here.  Her family has become our family, and her friendship is among one of my most valued in the world. 

She often times compliments how wonderful my kids are, and what a good job I'm doing as a mom.  While I don't ever discount her opinion, I struggle personally to internalize these compliments and truly 'feel it'.  But today, after she left and I was getting the kids organized for dinner, baths, and bed, I spent a lot of time thinking.  I've been thinking about and praying for some sort of 'pick me up' that will get me to come to a more positive realization about the good and wonderful things that I'm doing for my kids...for my family. 

And in comes my dear friend.  The positive energy, wonderful stories, wisdom, and genuineness she carries with her is exactly the 'pick me up' I craved.  Her presence in my house, albeit a short visit, came at a time in my life when I'm in need--and for that, I'm beyond grateful and blessed.

In two short weeks, the hiatus from teaching (otherwise known as the gloriousness that is *summer vacation*) begins, and my role shifts back into a SAHM (stay at home mom).  While I did not enter into teaching for June-July-August, it certainly makes for an ideal situation for a person like me, who has been mentally and emotionally torn about staying home with the kids or working full time. 

Now, my stress levels begin to elevate with the upcoming change of schedule (or lack of, to be more accurate).  I feel the pressure to create a memorable and amazing summer experience--all personal pressure however, not from outside sources in the least.  As I work through this new adjustment in my concept of excellence over perfection, I'm hopeful for my selfish feeling of contentment.  I know my kids are none the wiser to the inner-workings of my brain, as are many of my friends.  Even now as I'm writing this, there is a tiny shred of my mind that is concerned with other peoples' opinions--and the ensuing guilt for feeling self centered.  But...I keep reminding myself of why I write this blog.  The journey of motherhood causes many feelings to ebb and flow throughout the course of life.  Documenting for my kids, for me, and the memories throughout our lives...that's why I write.  And to sort through the madness of it all.

mother's day toes in the grass watching my amazing kids
my oldest princess and the gift for her mommy

captured her looking exceptionally adorable :)

time to learn how to ride the new bike!

flowers for mommy for mother's day

pretty girl with the crazy hair

just hanging out

the handsome guy who is the reason I'm a mom <3

homemade tiramisu...translation: 'pick me up' (literally and figuratively)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy birthday, Gavin :)

Six years ago tonight, Randy and I were holding our newly born and swaddled baby boy, slightly yellowish, squished face, with an oddly shaped head courtesy of a lengthy and, at times, tense delivery.  We had pretty much no idea what in the world we were to do with this tiny little munchkin, sleeping soundly with his white cap and blue puff, denoting to the nurses that he was in fact a handsome baby boy :)
newborn and exhausted
Fast forward (literally...where the hell did the time go?!?!) six years and two little sisters later, and Gavin is 11 days away from being finished with his kindergarten year. 

I normally don't buy into the whole concept of horoscopes and numerology...mainly find it a source of entertainment  to read when I have some free time (so...um...never). Anyhow, I looked into the significance of the number 6 tonight.  The first sentence was pretty much all I needed and cared to read.  It said, "The number six is perhaps more complex than the numbers that are under it, in that it can disguise itself, within itself."  I find irony in this statement, most specifically as we enter into this new phase of parenting a six year old.  No longer does he feel like he fits into the mold of a 'kindergartener' (while they attend school, there's something about 'kindergarten' that still keeps the 'kid' in mind).  Now he's breaching into territory of bikes without training wheels, wanting handheld video games, understanding sarcasm (and using it), standing up for what he believes in (more than ever), and countless other things that remind me constantly that he is growing into a complex and intricate individual who is a perfect mix of both Randy and me--both the good and the bad. 

It's scary to realize all the things that we're having to encounter now that he's been in school for a year, being around kids from varying backgrounds and belief systems.  Teaching him to make good choices as he navigates through the big big world of school and all its social intricacies.

It seems like I was just snapping photos of his every move and facial expression as he slept in the crook of the couch, watching him learn to crawl and giggle, count and walk.  I remember his first time tasting baby food, and his little bare tush waiting patiently at the edge of the tub waiting to splash and play in the bath.  Our biggest worries for him were teaching him colors, the sound a cow makes, and how to put on his shirt.  He loved his bottle and his binkie, but like a good boy, he gave them up at age 1 as mommy requested.  Always a pleaser, he smiled for the camera from an early age (good thing, since I'm like the paparazzi with all of my kids), tasted whatever food we put in front of him, and has always been outstanding at entertaining himself if mommy and daddy are having a conversation with other adults.  An ideal little boy, in not just my opinion, but from my dear friends (and strangers) who have told us so. 

We are so very blessed to have such an amazing and beautiful little boy.  It's been the best six years of our lives being his mommy and daddy (now mom and dad, since it's 'cooler').  I know that this transistion from 'little boy' to 'kid' will be a tricky one to navigate, but the confidence we have in his character and his personality will be the key to keeping our sanity a little more under wraps.

Happy birthday, Gavin...you are the best way for daddy and I to have been thrown into the trenches of parenthood.  Thank you for your beautiful soul and reminding me every day what a miracle you are.

napping with Grandpa :)

one of my favorite faces!