Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shamelessly Showing Off

Pictures of my two boys! I absolutely love how this photographer captured my boys and their personalities. If you are out in the Wasatch Front or the Uintah Basin parts of Utah, give her a call. She has reasonable prices and does great work! I scored a free session, but have already booked family pictures for the fall because I loved her work so much.

Pull down the drop down menu until you see my last name (hint - starts with a D). Hit "enter gallery." Then hit submit. There is no password. I don't know how long the proofs will stay up, so check 'em out when you can.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On Being a Teacher

Today my 10th year of teaching came to a close. In the past ten years, I have taught more than a thousand students. It's hard to believe I have been teaching that long. I still feel like I am a young 22 year old teacher just starting out. Instead I am an old veteran, no longer wearing rose colored glasses. The past ten years have been a fun and sometimes wild ride. Some years have been challenging, bringing struggles at every turn. Other years have been absolutely wonderful, bringing me joy. Most years are a combination of each.

Teaching is more than a job to me. Each year, over one hundred students enter my classroom. Some will delight me, some will annoy me, and some will challenge me. But each year, those children become like family to me. Each year, some students will ask me if I will miss them, while others will ask me if I will be glad they are gone. The truth is, I always miss my students. That last day of school each year is bitter sweet. While I am glad the year is over for many reasons (a big one that I get to be a mom full time for a few months), I am so sad my students are moving on. Students don't realize the way many teachers see their students. When those kids enter my classroom, they become mine. They become my students and I care about them deeply. Not only do I care about their academic success, but I care about them individually. I worry about them through the year. That doesn't stop when they leave my classroom. They take a piece of me with them when they leave.

It's true. My students really take a piece of me with them when they leave. I often find myself wondering how they are doing, what they are doing, how life is treating them. One of my greatest joys is when I run into a former student and they run up and say hi, ask about me, and tell me about their lives. I get sad when a former student acts like they don't know or remember me, because usually, I remember them.

Today I said goodbye to one of my favorite classes of eighth grade. Out of the ten classes I have taught, this group rates up among my top three favorite classes ever. Tonight, my favorite group of students ever graduated from high school. Out of that top three, this group rates #1.

The graduating group came to me 5 years ago. I didn't yet have children, but I had finally found some peace in my infertility. I had the peace that some how, some day, I would have kids. In the meantime, while I waited, I threw myself into teaching. This group of students came in and we immediately bonded. I saw so much beauty, promise, and hope in this class. Part way through the year, I noticed these students didn't see the same beauty in themselves. So I did an activity to help them see their own beauty. And that activity bonded us like no other. From then on, these students were my children and I was their adopted mom.

Our closeness didn't end at the end of that year. Many were student aides for me the next year. Many come to my house or my classroom to visit. It's not unusual, especially in the summer, for a group of them to show up at my door with a pizza, raid my fridge for drinks, and sit around and chat for awhile. They showed up just last week, wanting one last reunion before they graduated. They have played many, many pranks on me over the years. I've tried to get them back, but they always win.

Tonight they graduated. I wanted more than anything to be there with them. I planned and planned on being there. And then Mark had to work tonight. And then Easton got sick. And it rained (ceremony is supposed to be outside). And Camden is a 3 year old who doesn't sit well. And the graduation is during dinner time. With all those things combining, I knew it would be patently unfair to my children to drag them to the graduation with all those factors in play. I am so sad I cannot be there tonight. I have been torn all night, rethinking the decision to stay home, and coming to the conclusion again that it is best for my children to stay home.

I am so sad to see these students leave - both the group from this year and my graduating seniors. Our school does a fun tradition every year when the students leave. The teachers and staff get the noisiest things we can find. This year it was bull horns, whistles, and clapping hands. We get out there with our noise makers and make as much noise as we can while the students load on the buses. Then, before the buses leave, all the bus drivers lay on their horns and don't let go. You have more than 20 buses with horns blaring and an entire junior high staff making tons of noise. It's a huge, raucous, fun time. Then one by one, the buses pull out. Each year this tradition brings me so much joy because it's such a fun send off. But each year I find myself with tears in my eyes as another group of students leave. This year, tears rolled down my face. I am losing two of my favorite classes ever. While I am so excited for them and their futures, I am so sad to see them go.

My hope is the future will be kind to them. May they find joy and peace in the journey of their lives. May they carry the knowledge that this teacher, this one person, will always love and care about them. May they always find a soft place to land.

For my students of this year, carry on your educational journey. Make wise choices. Live life to the fullest.

To my graduating students - Kyle (Matt), Jeff, Megan, Britli, Brittany, Justin, and too many others to name - you carry my heart with you. I love you as much as I do my own kids. Don't forget to invite me to all those mission farewells, weddings, baby showers, and everything else. Life gets harder as an adult, but so much more rewarding. I hope you find more happiness and joy than you can ever imagine.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Life on the other side

I've been thinking a lot about infertility and its impact on my life. Recently I found this site and I wished I had found it back when I was ttc Camden or after my miscarriage or when we were trying for Easton. I didn't start this blog until Camden was about 8 months old and I haven't fully shared my infertility story on this blog (coming in the next few weeks). When I was going through the infertility, I had a small support group, but one by one those girls got pregnant until I was mainly alone. I wished and wished for a bigger support group, which I have since discovered exists in this great world of blogs, but I knew nothing of blogging at the time. I'm so glad it exists now because I would never want another infertile person to feel as alone as I did during that time. At the worst of it, I just wanted somebody, anybody, to understand what a toll being infertile can take on a person's body and soul. I can say with certainty that infertility has been the hardest thing I have gone through to date and it still defines who I am as a woman and person.

Now I find myself on the other side. I have been blessed with two beautiful little boys - two boys that, at one point, I was told might never exist without major medical intervention. At one point I believed they would never exist and that I would never be a mother. Yet here they are. They complete me in ways I never thought possible. I often feel like I was born to be their mother; they are the reason I exist. They have brought more meaning, more light, more joy to my life than I ever expected. I would do anything for those two boys. There is not a day that I don't thank my Heavenly Father for these children.

It's a weird dichotomy. I have children, yet still define myself as infertile. Even though I am the mother of two, even though I have created, carried, and birthed two children, I still see myself as infertile. Not a day goes by that I do not think of myself as an infertile woman. But to anybody just meeting me, to anybody who does not know my background, I am a lucky mother of two. Most likely, they see me as a fertile being. They see the blessings I have received. They see the two children at my feet. They haven't seen the trial or the pain.

The more children I have, the more removed I am from the infertile world. Not necessarily by choice, but by the circumstance of being a mother. How is another infertile woman to know that I struggled, that I feel like I was granted two miracles? How is another infertile woman to relate to me when they are still going through the struggle to get a child? I know that 5 years ago I would have scoffed at such woman, who, with two children at their feet, told me they knew of my pain. I knew they could never imagine the pain and hurt I felt because they were blessed. Now I am that person I so dreaded not that many years ago.

I wonder where I fit in now. I still feel part of that infertile world, but yet I am also so far removed by the very nature of having children. Do other infertile people read my posts and then scoff because I do have children? My goal since having children has been to hopefully give hope to somebody else in the same situation, for somebody seeking for a happy ending story. But does that happy ending story hurt more than it helps? I don't know.

I know that I am not done having children. I also know that for each child I try for, fertilty medications will be involved. It's a fact - I rarely, if ever, ovulate on my own. I have PCOS. So by that definition, I am still infertile. Yet I also know what doses of medication will work for me. I know I have been pregnant three times now as a results of those medications, and that two of those pregnancies have resulted in living children. So by that definition, I am a mother.

Every day I think of infertility, in much the same way that a person who has survived cancer thinks about cancer. (No, the two are not equal and I don't mean to offend anybody in that comparison, but just like cancer changes ones live forever, so does infertility in a different way). I often wish that I could wear a shirt that proclaims, "These children are the result of years of trying, heartache, testing, medications, loss, more medications, and more trying" so that people, especially those who may resent me for my children (as I so often resented others), will know what a small bit of what I went through to get these children. I want people to know that I remember the pain so clearly; I remember the heartache, the longing, and the hurt. I want to reach out to those who are struggling and let them know there is life on the other side. I never want to get so far removed from the infertile world that I forget what it is like to struggle.