Let me start out by saying I love my kids and I love my job! If you asked which I loved more I would obviously say I love my kids more. Unfortunately though if I had to punch a time clock for both, and you looked through my track record you would see I spend more time focused on my job. If there was a way to track my emotions and attitude when I am teaching and when I am parenting, you would think I loved my job more.
I teach and I find pure joy in doing so. I knew I wanted to be a teacher ever since the first grade when I had to fill out a “What do I want to be when I grow up” page. It never changed over the years. Actually my goal became a little more specific. I wanted to teach at the same Elementary I went to as a child. It took me 8 long hard years to graduate. Those years were filled with having two children, an overseas deployment for my husband, and a failed first marriage. But it all made me more determined to persevere and graduate. I was determined to finish what I started and live out my dream. Of course God being the kind of God he is , I graduated in December 2008 and the position to teach Pre-k at my childhood elementary opened up in January 2009. Oh and did I mention I had already enrolled my children in this school the previous year, because I love it so much. I wanted to be a working mom, but I wanted my kids with me every day as well. I guess you could say I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. This job was perfect and allowed me to do just that.
Riley was in Kinder and Devin was in first grade when I started. I loved every moment of it. I mean there was a few drawbacks. For instance if one of their teachers wanted to come tell you what your child is doing wrong, they just walk right in, interrupt your teaching, and give their complaints. Because we all know when our children get in trouble, it’s a reflection of our parenting skills, and we take it very personal. We begin to think of how horrible of a parent we are and our pride takes a hit. That was the year we started looking into his learning disability and after a long journey he was diagnosed with ADD. But that’s a whole nother story.
But now to the reason I really started this story and decided to take the morning off. Since I work at the same school my children attended, I usually got to be present for the special events. In the beginning it was easy to attend, because it was part of my job. They split the awards PK-2nd. I had to be there with my class, therefore I was lucky enough to be present for theirs as well. At some point the awards ceremonies ended up at different times and I found it too difficult to pull away.
Let me say this, both my children are very smart children. Both are diagnosed with ADD. Devin is your quiet, well behaved, artsy, computer nerd (his words, not mine) kind of child. He never really stood out in elementary. He was often overlooked for awards, because although he could easily get a 100 on a paper, he would usually forget to turn it in, or write his name on it. So academics were good, but not outstanding. Well according to my standards anyways, because I thought all A’s were outstanding and AB honor was basically a “thank you for participating”. As I write this I can see how snooty that sounds. In my defense, as a mom, I knew my children’s true potential and was upset they weren’t reaching it. That’s not a bad thing right? I assume a lot of us feel this way.
Then there is my little social butterfly Riley Rayne. She is everyone’s best friend. She actually got I’s in conduct in Pre-K, because she wouldn’t ever stop talking (I wasn’t her teacher, I started the following year). When I would confront her about it, she would say… Mom I just wanted to know what they were doing at the yellow table. She was always smarter than what she was learning, or at least she thought so. We later found out in 4th grade she struggled with ADD as well and we decided to put her on medicine. This changed her academic world. Her grades and behavior improved. This year stands out for me as one of my favorite parenting moments because her teacher came to me and told me she was giving her the Gator Award. When her teacher told me this, I began to cry.
The Gator award is the school award that basically means your kid is overall best in the class. I am joking about that, but it’s kind of true. So let’s just say for one reason or another, my kids usually did not receive this honor. Gator award stands for…
- Great leader
- Awesome Attitude
Your school calls it something else, but I am sure they have the same type of award.
This was a big deal for me; to know she was noticed and someone else saw her the way I do. This made my heart full. This particular awards ceremony, I made a point to attend and I had a very proud mom moment watching her receive her award. I’m glad her teacher gave me a heads up. I still have the award hanging in my classroom after all these years, and she is going to be a sophomore this year.
I don’t mean to make it sound like my kids never got any awards, but to me they weren’t the “good awards”. As I write that, I realize the pressure I was putting on them and on myself to be what the world says they should be. Which is ironic, because I pride myself on being the type of mom that was raising kids to be exactly who they were created to be. Strange how you can try so hard to be one thing, and end up doing the thing you were trying to avoid all along.
Over this last year my family has had a rough transition. My children wanted to live with their dad. I was totally against it. Unfortunately the power struggle became so great it broke the relationship. We had a few months of zero communication, and I spent a semester in therapy, but God is good and he has resorted the relationship. My children still do not live with me, but we talk. They visit, we spend time together, and enjoy each others company.
A few nights ago Devin, which is finishing up his Junior year, stopped by after work and mentioned he was receiving an award the next day. I told him I would see what I could do, but I wasn’t sure if I could take off with such short notice.
If I have learned one thing this last year, it was that I should treasure these moments because they won’t always be here. I spent so many of their younger years in a rush getting them from one activity to the next that I felt more like a taxi driver.
We were over scheduled and stretched thin, so the moments themselves felt like a task to be accomplished and checked off my list instead of a moment in time that should be treasured and enjoyed.
That old saying… you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, is so true.
So the following day I had a choice. I could make excuses that were valid and miss the moment or I could find a substitute and take the morning off to celebrate his victory.
I chose the latter, thank goodness.
I took the morning off. I sat in the stadium and watched him proudly receive an award for his computer programing class that he loves. I cheered for him and videoed him walking across the stage.
Afterwards… I thought I should leave and rush back to work and relieve my sub early.
Then something just shifted in my mind, and I thought to myself , WHY???
Why would I leave early to relieve someone who is being paid to do my job at that particular moment. So I stayed, I watched and cheered for all the other children as well. Then afterwards I was able to capture a few pictures. He was grateful. He’s an 18 year old boy, so he didn’t come out and say… Thanks mom! You being here means the world to me. But I could tell. That day I showed him that although he doesn’t live with me, I am always here to support him.
SO I encourage you today, whatever stage of life you’re in with your family, your kids, your job… Enjoy the things that seem like task.
- Enjoy the overwhelming to do list that keeps getting longer, or better yet, take some time to evaluate it.
- Look into things that are put on your list by other people and rob your joy of spending time with your family, what can you change?
- Look at the things you put on your list because of the pressure to be everything to everybody, what can you let go of?
- If you are unhappy with your schedule, change it.
You have the power to do that.
This is your life, you choose what you do with it!
You might have to let go of some things, but your family is worth it.
It’s too late to change the past, but you have the choice to change the future.
Enjoy every moment God has given you. Each new day is a blessing.
Comment below some things you have to do, but don’t want to do? Is there anything you can do to either change it or modify it so that you can enjoy it?