Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tug of War

Ever feel like you are in a tug of war? I've felt that way at work lately. For those of you who know what I did before teaching third grade, I'm sure you find this hilarious! "We told you so!"

As a teacher, I have had to learn how to balance my own personal beliefs about education with the "greater good". I've had to change how I teach certain skills. I've had to follow an increasingly stricter pace. I've had to chart and graph more data than I ever cared to! I've had to stay "on schedule" not only with my grade level, but also my whole district. And I have to tell you...... I don't care for it one bit!

At what point is it still about the good of the children? This year especially I have wondered that. I don't have an issue with the curriculum I'm using.... in fact, I like our reading and language arts series! I've finally figured out how I need to best teach math! Science and social studies? Well.... I'm still working on those. Not to brag, but I'm (or I used to be!) a good teacher. I enjoyed taking time for "teachable moments" and leading students in how to be good thinkers and reasoners.

However, now I feel as though I am a robot. "You...... must..... stay...... on....... pace........" "You....... must....... document......... every.......... word....... said........ by........ the.......students......" "Don't........ think......... for.......... yourself........."

Granted, these are exaggerations, but they are not that far from the truth! I have grown weary of never having enough time to teach my students. We never have enough time to practice skills before we have to assess. I'm tired of all the forms and paperwork. I'm tired of "easier" solutions that just make my life more complicated.

For example, Today........

my day started with a impromptu conference with my boss, an irrate letter from a parent, using my "extra instructional time" to call the disgruntled parent, thus leaving my students reading quietly in the hall while I used the phone. Once we got settled back into the room, it was time to leave again for a bathroom break so that we could be on schedule when the exceptional education teacher comes into our room to work with a student. (Let's not forget two of my students being taken for extra reading help then me panicing at the bathroom because I've lost two kids!) Two hours of reading instruction and practice (I STILL can't meet with every group in a day like I need to!) Time to break for lunch, then bathroom, and reading aloud from our chapter book (while students furiously try to finish any morning work they couldn't work on because they were sitting in the hall!). After our read aloud, quickly cram spelling and grammar down the students' throats.... introduce cursive writing... but, wait! It's time to leave again to go to p.e.! 40 minutes of "planning time" (HA!) for me as I furiously answer emails, put papers and notes in student mailboxes, go to the restroom (if I'm lucky), try to actually SEE my desk instead of the stacks of papers on top of it! P.E. is over, ANOTHER bathroom break, daily calendar, math warm up, review rounding.... but, SURPRISE!!!! time to leave AGAIN to go to the library! Come back from the library, work on a math test (another student leaves to see the OT) but then have to stop in the middle because it is time to pack up to go home...... get everyone in the right spot and the day is OVER!!!! (of course, then i stayed to help with tutoring, but that's another story!)

And I wonder why I feel as though I am being pulled in all directions! The saddest part? that is a "typical" (or as close to typical as I can get) day. These are the days that I hate my job because I feel as though I can't DO my job anymore. :(

So many of us have a tug of war in our own lives. Maybe, like me, it is your work life. Maybe your family has activities every day! Maybe it is your "free" time (do any of us really have free time anymore?) But we all struggle to accomplish all our goals in one or more areas of our life. I don't know about you, but when I feel pulled, I only stretch so far........... at some point, I either give in or fall apart.

So...... how do we keep from giving in? How do we keep from falling apart? For me, I find that when I am at my "rope's end" (get it? tug of war? rope's end?) it is usually because I took too much on myself. I had unrealistic expectations of what I wanted to do, or get done, or wanted things to be. In other words, I became so detail oriented, that I lost sight of the "main thing". In work, my main thing is- to prepare my students to be successful in third grade, but also to be prepared for their future education. In life our main thing should be to "love God and love others" (Matthew 22:36-40)

That's a great lesson, but I gotta be honest, sometimes I need more. Sometimes, I just need REST. I was in need of rest last weekend. Sometimes I just need to get away from my stress and rest...... mentally....... physically......... emotionally............. REST.

God promises us rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yu and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul." Psalm 23:2-3a

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

I need rest. I need to be reminded that God provides rest. I can't let my rope (life) be pulled so long that I break. I need to be smart and learn when I need to lay my rope down and walk away. Rest, so that I can pick my rope back up another day.

Lord, Help me not to become so overwhelmed with daily life. Help me to keep my rope steady, not allowing it to be pulled in different directions. Help me to remember my focus (You). Give me rest when I am weary. Give me the wisdom to know when I need rest. Amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mommy Dearest

I have a heavy heart tonight.

I want to be a mom. For a while I thought I was o.k. if that desire never came true.... but I'm not. It is so disheartening to know that the opportunity probably will never arise and if it does, I may never be able to conceive.

Many of you know that eight years ago (ish) I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. (I always have to think about the students in my class the year I was diagnosed then count forward to the grade they are in now to see how long it has been. When I was first diagnosed, I was faithful to take my medicine, check my blood sugar, etc. but soon I began to skip it. The medicine I had to take for diabetes made me constantly nausious and sick to my stomach... plus, most of the time the medicine did not seem to help.

About three years after my diabetes diagnosis, my blood sugar could not get under control, so I was referred to see an endocrimologist. It was here where I received the news that still haunts me..... along with many other health issues, I have PCOS. For those of you who have never heard of it, PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome) causes infertility. My doctor recommened that if I had any plans to have children, I better go ahead and do it. No problem, right? PROBLEM... at the time I was single, not dating anyone, with no prospectives to date. Also, because of my personal beliefs, I knew that I didn't want to go find a random guy to have a baby with..... (I couldn't have afforded one anyway!)

One and a half years ago, I had gastric banding surgery. My weight was out of control, I was unhealthy, and I knew that losing weight was my only chance of ever controlling my sleep apnea, my diabetes, my thyroid, and my PCOS. It was my "shot" at having the life I have always wanted. I went through all the classes, attended the support groups, had everything lined up... fasted for two weeks before surgery (not a problem!), had the surgery and initially lost 35 pounds. My dreams of a better me were coming true!

But then the weight loss slowed...... then stopped.... then the weight began coming back on. Of the 35 pounds I lost, I have regained 15. I have been sicker now than ever before. The list of foods that I can't eat (because they make me throw up) is longer than the list of foods that I can. In fact, there is not a single food that I can successfully eat every time!

I tell you all of this to say that I have had to come to grips with the fact that I will probably never be a Mom. It isn't easy. I work with children every day. I work with them at church every Sunday. Being around them causes me physical pain because of my strong desire for a child.

Please don't tell me, "you can adopt". I've thought of that.... 37 years ago my parents adopted me! But I know that they had to wait a long time for a baby. And at the same time, I'm not sure that I could be a single parent (and Daddy must be hiding somewhere!). I have no immediate family near me, I'm the only income this child would have (and I'm a horrible money manager!) Besides, agencies are looking mostly for stable, two-parent homes for children. My best bet for a child would be to marry someone who already has children (but since I don't date nor do I even know single men my age, that's kind of tough!) Anyway, being a stepmother (evil or not) would be tough and I just don't know if I'm strong enough for that.

My prayer since I was about 16 was that:
a) I would become a Proverbs 31 woman... a woman who pleased God
b) God would send me a husband..... I didn't date much in high school, thinking I would meet someone in college, then after college....... 20 years have passed and I still don't date (by choice--- just not mine)
c) God would let me have a family of my own
d) If my prayers/desires weren't what He had in store for me, that He would change them....

That's been the hardest part. My desire for a family has not lessened.... in fact it has grown stronger the more time I spend with friends who have children! (Always the babysitter, never the mommy)

I just don't know what to do with my emotions though. In my head I know God promises that He will give me the desires of my heart. I know that through Him, all things are possible. My head knows these things...... I just wish that my heart would catch up. I've reached the point that I can't be around young children....it is too painful seeing my greatest longing and knowing it isn't happening. I have a friend who she and her husband are going through the adoption screening process right now in hopes that they might be able to adopt..... I want so badly to be happy for them! But I can't help feeling, "why not me?" Why can't I find a husband and try for a baby?

I have to say that I feel like damaged goods. I've always had self worth issues (never pretty enough, smart enough, outgoing enough, etc.).... these are lies from the devil. I know that the Bible says that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". But I feel, who would ever want me? I'm no Christian Barbie (I would like to point out that SHE is made of PLASTIC!).... I don't have the outgoing, fun personality of some, and now? I can't even promise a child! Who would want me? Once again, those are LIES from the devil. How do I keep myself remembering that?

I don't want encouragement that "oh, you'll have a child some day" cause no one but God knows that..... besides, at 37 I'm thinking that ship has sailed! I need to know how to deal with the disappointment. Short of changing careers and stop serving in church, I'm going to have to work with children. How do I get past the longing for one of my own?

No one but God can answer my prayers. He alone can change my heart and my desires to match up with His plan for me...... I just wish He would hurry! (but I've never been very patient!)

LORD, Heal my heart. Take away the bitterness I feel towards people who have what I want. Help me to be grateful for what you HAVE blessed me with! Open my ears, Lord so that I will listen and obey when You speak Your plan for me.