Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Back in the Swing of the School Thing

This week has been a blur. The first day of school for teachers was Tuesday, and then from there it just became this runaway train of getting back to routines I've not had for ten weeks. I feel lucky that I didn't have crazy nightmares about school this week, and that I didn't have that panicky feeling of "OHMYGOD, I've totally forgotten how to teach...what happens if I get up there and I blank out???" This was a real thing last year before school (don't worry, I didn't really forget).

It didn't help that it was freaking hot, as in 90 and a zillion percent humidity, and my school (like so many others in Western New York) HAS NO AIR CONDITIONING. It was as sticky and funky as I thought it might be, and I am hoping that the forecast of dropping into the 70s this week is true. I can't take any more. And Friday I was pretty sure that a fair amount of funk was coming from me, despite twice a day showering. Not a good feeling.

It was an interesting week, with people asking about adoption updates and me feeling ever so slightly less optimistic than last year, although I do a good job of playing up the little play we got this summer. I just sound less like "Could be ANY DAY now!" and more like, "Well, IF it happens this year."

I also had to call my parents (I mean my students' parents), which is a good idea anyway to open up the door of communication and introduce yourself. My resource period is 9th, and for the past two years no parents have stayed that late at open house. The traffic getting out when everyone lets out is UNBELIEVABLE, so sometimes they jet out (most of the time they have met me in the consultant teacher English class anyway, but then they miss my own spiel), I don't really blame them. 9:20 is LATE. So, I decided this year that I would call and then introduce my strange situation... that Bryce and I are adopting (SO many "Congratulations!") but that the baby is utterly hypothetical and the process is chock full of uncertainty (SO many awkward silences), so I want to give them the heads up that I could, feasibly, go out on maternity leave with as little notice as a couple weeks, or I could have several months' notice, or it could not happen this year at all. There is a transition plan (sort of...since we can't exactly keep someone on hold for a possible maternity leave that could be years in the making) and the principal is super supportive and I will do everything possible to get someone up to speed to take my place if that happened this year. Then I laughed my dark laugh and said, "Of course, I had this same exact conversation with my parents last year, and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happened, so maybe it won't affect your child at all." In retrospect, that's probably not so soothing, because I could hear the wheels turning (oh...she's in her second year of waiting...it's MORE likely to happen this year than last). But, in most cases the conversation went smoothly and everyone appreciated the early contact. It was just exhausting. Necessary though, because in the English class we wrote our letters as teachers to model the letter that we want our students to write -- to get their story. They aren't sanitized. By the end, students know my parents divorced, I divorced, teaching wasn't my first career, and we're having a baby...through adoption. (Hilarious to see how many students look up at my stomach when I say "and someday hopefully soon...a baby!" and then rethink it when I say we're in the adoption process. Fascinating that the number one question I get is about where the baby will come from.) The more honest we are in our letters, the more free they feel to share their true stories with us -- which often include things like tragic parent loss, divorce situations, anxiety/depression, struggles with sexual orientation/identity, and hard transitions from moving a lot. I love reading these letters, it reminds me of the whole child we're trying to teach. They reveal so much that lies beneath the surface.

This week was one of other reveals, too... two pregnancies (both second) and two adoption matches. It felt a little like, YOU get a baby, and YOU get a baby, and YOU get a baby, and YOU GET A BABY, but uh, NO BABY FOR YOU! Like being the only one in Oprah's studio to NOT get a car. It's funny, being in a place where I'm watching not only pregnancies happen around me but successful adoptions, too. I didn't cry or get super funked or anything like that, because that's just WHAT IS now. Happiness for others, and a little numbness for myself.

Facebook was a little tough this week and I stayed off it for the most part because every time I went to see what was happening, it was a sea of back to school pictures. Which have never really bothered me in the past, but it's that whole passage-of-time thing. It's hearing/reading about parents choking up about that first bus ride, and being like...is that ever going to be me? It's seeing comment after comment of "time moves so fast!" and feeling like, DOES IT EVER. And yet, some of these children going off to kindergarten were conceived when we were also trying, and here we are...with our cats. Nothing has changed in any real way, despite the pack-n-play and car seats in the back storage room.

Today I asked Bryce what we were going to do for our wedding anniversary this year -- it's number seven, and I'd kind of like to do something to commemorate it, since while it is tied to our infertility journey longevity, I find it necessary to celebrate the GOOD things in our lives. That we don't want to stab each other (all the time, ha) after seven years of dealing with incredibly difficult situations is pretty special. The funny thing is, Bryce asked, "Well, what did we do last year?"

You know what we did last year? WE HAD A BABY SHOWER. Time just keeps moving on, and everything stays the same. He snorted a bit, because while it's as funny as it is not funny.

I want to go away somewhere for a weekend, to have a romantic fall thing. I'm not sure if that's feasible given his PhD course schedule, but I'd like to try. It would be lovely to have something to look forward to. If that's not possible we'll figure something else out, maybe a staycation or a night in a local hotel where we can pretend we're elsewhere.

In the meantime, I've had a wonderful week with my new students, and it's been good to get back in the swing of teaching. Such a strange career, where you are so immersed for 10 months of the year and then have 2 months where you are removed (okay, one month, since August is essentially get-ready-time), and then have to transition back. Every year on the same cycle. It's nice, though, because every year the kids change, the climate changes, I get to reinvent what I do in those several-week increments that I teach important skills and how to be a decent human. So it's predictable, but changes, too. I am forever in 8th grade, and that I don't mind at all.

I will feel better when school is really up and going and open house is over (man I hate Open House... talking in front of adults, a growing number of whom are my age or younger, make me tremble a bit), and I'm solidly in the routine. I love, love, love being in the classroom again, helping kids to learn and grow during one of the most awkward times in their lives. I can concentrate on the good things...our anniversary, my love of teaching...and maybe that will help me feel more hope than numbness in this limbo we live in. Even though it feels that way more often than not right now, it won't last forever.

15 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, you are amazing. I don't even want to think about revealing so much personal information to strangers. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it. I guess my case is a bit different as my students are a lot lower functioning and the boundaries are different, but still. I don't want to tell their parents anything either LOL! I am quite impressed at the sacrifice you make to help your students learn and have emotional safety. I'm glad you had a good start up and are looking forward to the year.

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    1. So, it's funny...because the letter idea isn't mine. I love it, and last year was the first year the English teacher I teach with opened it up for me to do one, too (which is lovely, because it makes it even more clear that even though it's his room, we're BOTH important and I'm not relegated to a "helper."). His childhood was twisty but his adulthood (on paper at least) is pretty linear. Mine, obviously, is not... but I went for a warts-and-all approach. Because lives are messy, and I want them to know that's okay and they're in good company since I'm pretty messy, too. :) My parents tend to be pretty involved, and if I was pregnant they'd know I could go out on leave because it would be physically obvious, which I envy in a way. So I have to say something or else they might feel betrayed or surprised later. Maybe betrayed is too strong a word, ha ha! I hope you had a great start to your year, too!

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    2. Yes, it makes sense that you would let parents know about the potential short timeline for adoption. To me it still sounds overwhelming to have to share that kind of emotional vulnerability. Probably that says more about me than you :-D It's an aspect of your unique situation I wouldn't have thought of till you pointed it out.

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  2. What an amazing idea, that letter! I bet the kids really find that helpful - I think as a student I often had the idea that most of the adults in school had it all together and figured out "adulting". It's very generous and wonderful of you to share your story with your students to help them integrate their experiences and tell their stories. As well, I admire your openness with the parents of your students.

    Glad that the school year has started off well and hope the next few weeks of adjusting and getting back into it all are good also.

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    1. Isn't it? I wish I could do it with my own self-contained classes, but open ended assignments do not tend to go as well there. I have an essay I'm doing next week based on one called "Who You Are" that I hope has similar results, but it's more structured. I will do a model though so they will learn stuff about me, too! All in fairly general terms, but clear that life isn't always neat and tidy. I appreciated when teachers let that side of themselves out, too. It's nice to know we're all human. Now to go off and do my specific plans for this week... ahhhhh, the joys of school year Sundays! :)

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  3. I often wonder if we as a society, particularly with strangers, would treat one another with more kindness and compassion if we knew one another's life stories and had to face each other. Sometimes the answer is no, especially when cliches are involved, but other times it can be a benefit. Regardless, I am so impressed you are doing this because you are both a model to your students and are showing them how to live courageously.

    It sounds like this was a hard week, filled with lots of emotions. Sending you much love and hoping next week is easier.

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    1. Oh yes, yes to knowing the beneath-the-surface stuff and being kinder. It's a personal choice, but how wonderful would it be if everyone would reveal one thing they were struggling with. How much empathy would be built as a result. It was a hard week, but now we're off to another one, and hopefully it's better. I feel more prepared for some reason, although I suspect I've planned way more than is possible in a 40 minute period... :) Thank you for your thoughts as always! :)

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  4. Ugh...the heat. Here in MD many counties that have schools with no a/c closed for the high temps. There was a lot of controversy because the week before Labor Day when some counties started, teachers were posting pics of thermostats reading above 100 degrees in their classrooms, and it landed on the news and got everyone up in arms. I mean, I agree it's ridiculous and I wouldn't want to sit in that kind of heat and try to learn so of course I don't want that for my kids. Fall can't come soon enough! Here's hoping this week is much cooler for you!

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    1. It was awful. Not 100, but the humidity with the 90s temps just made the day so draining, for everyone. They cancelled after school activities but not school itself. I'm so very grateful that the temperatures are much more September-like now... I don't mind a chill at all!

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  5. Maybe it's because I don't have kids and the last time I set foot in a school was almost (gulp) 40 years ago (!!) but like some of the above commenters, I had no idea teachers would reveal such personal stuff to the parents of their students. I see the reasoning behind your approach, though! Good luck as the new school year begins! P.S. If you are in western NY, you can't be that far from the GTA. If you are looking for an anniversary getaway, there are some great places around here, and in a few weeks, the fall colours will probably be pretty nice. ;) (You would need to have your passports, though.)

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    1. We're NOT that far from the GTA, which I'm assuming is Greater Toronto Area? About 3 hours or so. We're in Rochester. Luckily we have our passports (and I have that nifty card version) and have been thinking of Niagara on the Lake or somewhere else that is new to us. The personal info is a catch-22. I want everyone to feel in the loop, and I certainly don't share specifics, but it does make me a bit vulnerable. Of course, last year a parent made me cry buckets in the middle of the day because she and her sons made me a diaper cake for the mystery baby and she delivered it in the middle of the day. So sometimes it can be tricky, and sometimes it results in amazing surprises. I had the older son a few years ago, so I think that was a special family. :) Thanks for your thoughts!

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  6. oh you should definitely try to plan something nice for your anniversary. Maybe a few days somewhere with a spa and nice walks and good food. I totally hear ya with the Oprah giving out babies image! It definitely feels like that sometimes..

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    1. It sure does feel that way. And oh, that sounds perfect! I sure hope we can do something. There's actually a hotel here on the canal that has a spa and nice walks and good food, right there. And one up on a hill where I "won" a free deluxe room in a silent auction thingie, and that has spa/hiking trails/food too... Wheels are a-turnin'!

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  7. The time standing still thing is a thing really hard for our friends to comprehend. But it really hurts! It's so so sad-funny. When I think "what were we doing last year", the answer is almost always "I was pregnant", yet here we are. Still no actual live baby born that we can hold and take care of.

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