My Proxy Mother’s Day

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So Friday I was tearful and feeling sorry for myself I was a bit messy when my Students were at specials. My kids returned and seemed stable….they often seem perfectly OK on the outside when inside they are full of turmoil, anxiety, anger.

One after another my babies spiraled and lost control of their emotions. One by one they went from calm to different versions of angry, violent, abusive, out of control, and tearful. Oh the tears. I can deal with tears. One by one I held them. I calmed them. I loved them. I kept them safe in my space.

So I forgot about my problems. Hours later someone asked me how I was. I said I was great I had forgotten all about my stalker dad in the face of the needs of my children. I was happily exhausted by the effort of mending my kids. It was Mother’s Day weekend and two weeks of making presents for people who might not really be playing that role can get to a kid.

This is the first year I forgot about my Mom as Mother’s Day approached. My life is so full. I have twelve kids now. I am proxy mother to ten, real Mom to two. I don’t miss my mother at all anymore, I’m glad she’s gone. I’m glad she can’t hurt me anymore. I’m sorry my school kids (some) aren’t safe from that.

I can’t say how grateful I am to be the mom of my two kids as I had an amazing Saturday with them. They are so well developed, so loving, so awesome. But I had to take time to recognize my proxy motherhood and be grateful I could nurture my babies Friday.

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So you want to know what my job is like?

I tell people what I do, and they say “Wow” and “Saint” and I laugh.  I’m anything but.  I immediately deflect their praise because I’m not nearly as calm, level and wonderful as I would like to be.  Far from it on a regular basis, some days are better than others.

Today four of my students (grades K-2 this year) returned from being suspended, so I had a full house.  I have children with different disabilities but whose primary reason for being in my room is an emotional disturbance of some kind.  They throw chairs, they curse, they spit, they stab with pencils or other implements, they push, kick, hit, bite.  My kids both love me and hate me.  They respect me, fear me and test me daily.  They show blatant disrespect just to see what I will do or say.  They live in fear that I will leave them or stop loving them, yet they cannot seem to resist the urge to make me put them out, suspend them, push them away so to speak.  It’s like it’s hard wired in them to reject my love, kindness, compassion and attempts to enrich their lives.  I’ve learned that a tough, no nonsense approach works better with my babies; kindness has always been followed by pain whether emotional or physical, so they aren’t feeling it. 

My job is hard, I won’t lie.  I consider I have two primary responsibilities: 1. teach them how to conduct themselves in society and 2. how to read.  Once I accomplish those two goals, we move on to mastering math skills and other refinements.  I have common core standards to live up to, but first I have to keep them at their desks, or at least in my room learning.  So behavior always comes first, that’s why they are with me.  Now when I became an Intervention Specialist, this is not what I imagined for my first assignment, but I have no regrets.  I love my school, my coworkers, my administrator and my kids.  I love what we do and that we do it in the face of so many obstacles that exist outside our school walls. 

The retiring school nurse says I need to write a book about my first year adventures and I admit, it’s so unbelievable at times, and I don’t want to violate FERPA so I am careful what I share and tell here.  I have a small group so one day in the future I might write that book about my first tour in a behavior school. I leave every day pretty tired physically and it definitely took its toll on my athleticism, but I’m overcoming that obstacle.  I think I belong here, because I got past the tears, frustration, self-doubt and lack of skills to find my groove, adapted my existing skill set to meet my population, and took control of my room, generally speaking.  Some days they rule me, but mostly I rule them, as it should be.  And sometimes we even learn.  Image

 

Ms. H don’t play!

Tuesday was my first tearful day as a new teacher. When the building was empty, only myself and the custodian present, I cried in my room like a baby. I felt like a failure. I private messaged a fellow DPS teacher on Facebook and she encouraged me…..lots of people did. And I picked myself up and came into work for…..Professional Development Day. Hey! I didn’t time it, it happened. One of my students had an appointment in my building. I met her and her mother and suddenly I hear “She’s so excited to come to school again” and “She said Ms. H don’t play!” Since the focus of my room is classroom management, that made me smile. And it made me happy. Maybe I am doing ok for a week 1 Intervention Specialist 🙂

Tonight over dinner, just talking about my kids, my viewpoints on education, the areas I feel I am lacking in, I felt so much pleasure. The simple act of explaining to someone else why I love my new career, why it is so important to me, reminds me, again, that I’m realizing a dream I’ve worked on in different ways for years. This isn’t anything I fell into or chose because the economy is tough. This is what I LOVE to do, it lights me up inside. Those moments with that student were precious this morning. Tomorrow she may come in and try to tear my room to pieces or even my heart, but now I know, she cares, she understands why my rules exist, and at least part of her wants to follow them.

The faces of my life will change as years pass, but my roles stay the same. I am, forevermore, Asthma Girl Runner Mommy Teacher Relative Friend Swimmer Athlete….you get the idea.

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