Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #102

A Year of Gratitude #101: 23 Months of Stress-Free Living

Stress-free??? Really??

ABSOLUTELY! When I tracked out in April of 2010, I had no idea how quickly my life would be changing. From the time that we were put on the official waiting list for our agency to the time we were matched was 33 days. That's it.

When we made the drive on May 10th, 2010 to meet Gus and his amazing birth family, we had no idea what we were in for, and how much our lives would be changing. I guess no one really knows how much a baby changes things until you've become a parent. 

Prior to my track out, I was stressed about so many things. Being April, I had to move my ENTIRE classroom into Laura's room (Laura was my track mate). I was so fortunate to have parents in my class who were willing to let their children stay to help me move, but also I had several who always came and helped me. Unless you've been through it, you cannot fathom how incredibly stressful it is to move EVERY THING out of your classroom and into another person's room. While track out is a glorious time (it's your vacation), when I had to move out of my room caused me the most stress (I had to move out of my classroom twice each year).

The one thing that I HATED most about year-round schools was that I had to move out of my classroom twice a year. With the amount of stuff that I have... it was always a nightmare.

Anyway, I moved all my stuff into Laura's room and left it for two weeks. The plan was to come into work that last week of vacation (because, yes, I was on vacation, but I was required so many work days... and people think teachers lounge on their vacations!). We found out about Gus during my second week and the beginning of my third week of track out (the week that I was to go in and work), was the week that he was born. The Monday of my last week of vacation (Monday, May 10th), I tried to meet with my principal so I could tell her face-to-face that we had a match and a baby was coming at the end of the month. She was too busy to meet with me.

I had lunch with friends (little did I know that it would be my very last lunch with the girls... childless), and then got my nails done, and headed to Durham to meet Steve for a baseball game. When the call came at 5:45 that C was in labor... our world flipped upside down and hasn't been the same for 23 months!!

There were two months of stress right after Gus was born. The not knowing if he'd be our baby or not was gut-wrenching. I cried and cried from being so scared that we'd be told that his birth mom and father had changed their minds. H's mom refused to sign papers (he was a minor) and because he filled out paperwork incorrectly, our attorney had to check with two different Native American tribes to check and see if H was registered (if he was, the tribe would have to give permission for the adoption, and could decide to allow someone in the tribe to raise Gus). It was so very scary.

Then Steve had to leave and head back to NC and it was terrible. To be in a hotel alone with Gus... it was not good and mentally, I was not in a good place. There are so many things I regret about Gus's first two months of life... I WISH I could go back in time and relive it. All I wanted was to go home... and I just wanted to know that he was my son. I was so scared of losing him (and believe me, there was a HUGE risk of us losing him at the time), I didn't let myself bond with him. I didn't want to hold him to feed him, I was uncomfortable with him and I hate it.

While I was in MI, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom or not. I LOVED teaching... seriously LOVED it. I couldn't imagine leaving the classroom and not going back for the 2010-2011 school year.

There was stress about my leaving in the middle of a track out. Not only did my entire room have to be moved into my new classroom (all my stuff was in Laura's room), but there was no one there to move it for me (Steve and I were in MI with Gus and could NOT leave the state with him). Thankfully, I had some great people that I worked with who moved it for me. 

The EOGs (end of grade tests) came and thankfully my sub took care of everything... I had plans for the most part, but did have to work with her on getting them finalized. There was a LOT of drama with the b**ches that I worked with and I had several calls from my principal informing me that it was my job to do sub plans... SERIOUSLY?!?!?! I was so stressed about Gus and the situation with Steve being in NC that the LAST thing I cared about were my damn sub plans.

I'll call that REASON 1 that I don't want to return to the classroom.

Anyway-- thankfully Steve was able to move ALL my teaching stuff home when the end of the year came and Gus and I were STILL in Michigan (two months is a LONG time)!! 

BUT... once we did come back to NC and started our life as a family, a sense of peace came over me and I started to really enjoy being home. I had contact with former parents and they told me all about how terrible 5th grade was, how much the kids missed me and they even threw us a baby shower (the kids all brought books for Gus). It was in October and it was wonderful.

I had an opportunity to interview with Primrose (a preschool/day care) and I had thought about working park-time (maybe even full-time) and putting Gus in their program while I taught. During that interview, I was asked some questions about what I'd do if I was teaching and Gus was in the office because he was crying and upset... when I said I'd take care of him, the head of Primrose told me that I'd be expected to stay with my class and they'd take care of Gus. That's all it took for me to realize that there's no way in hell I'm leaving him so I can take care of other people's kids.

From that moment on, I have been 100% committed to staying home with Gus. My desire to stay home has grown... I cannot imagine leaving his growth and development up to someone else. Even that, I can't imagine letting someone else mold him and teach him right from wrong. My job is to teach him about everything and to lead by example. The kind of person that I want him to be, comes from what I model and teach. I refuse to allow someone else that honor.

I love staying home. I am literally stress-free. I don't stress about parents, conferences, my students, my lessons, not ever having enough time in the day to do all that I want/need, I don't stress about co-workers (and trust me... I worked with some nasty bee-otches). I walked out of the classroom and into motherhood and it was amazing.

Even after almost two years of being out of the classroom, I don't really miss it. I don't know if I ever want to go back. Maybe. Maybe not. The way education has changed (and even in two short years), I refuse to go back and teach to a test. I refuse to look at children as test scores and data... and yet, that's what teachers are forced to do. No more creativity allowed in lessons, everything is scripted and you're TOLD what to teach. It's horrible.

Maybe I'll go back and teach in a Montessori elementary. I found one close to us that I'd LOVE to put Gus in for K-5. I'm okay with him going to public middle school and high school in our area, but I'd prefer for him to be in a different environment for elementary. I love what Montessori stands for, and I think most importantly, it's amazing to view children as individuals and not cram testing down their throats. There will be enough of that when they're older... in the elementary years, the focus should be on the love of learning and self discovery. Montessori education allows for that.

I'd like to be home for Gus (and future children) when he's getting out of school. All the way through high school. When all my kids are 18 and graduated from high school, that's when I'll (maybe) go back to work. Until then, I'm going to enjoy each and every day playing, laughing, exploring, molding, creating, loving, and teaching my own kid.

I'm so thankful to not have any stress in my life. I don't stress about what I'm going to wear... what I'm going to do... My only stress is brought on by me, and I have the power to change my circumstances. I am so grateful that Steve works so very hard and not only allows me to stay home, but completely supports it.


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