I'm Still Here
Change is hard. Looking back at my two previous posts, it is almost comical to me how drastically different they are in tone. Blooming vs. wilting. If you check the dates, you will see that the watershed moment between the two is the beginning of the school year. The new job took a toll. Yes, change is hard. This change has amplified all of my emotions. It's hard to say whether it was the new job getting me down and making me more sad about Callie or whether I was sad about Callie and it was affecting the new job. Follow me? Let me just give you Exhibit A:
You are probably laughing, but this is what a preschool teacher does (totally oversimplifying, but yes, being a total goofball is my job...that about sums it up). Now imagine that your baby died and you are putting on a fake smile and doing "Pfft the ketchup" when just an hour before you saw a little 8 month old baby girl with dark brown hair as she accompanied her big brother to school....EVERY SINGLE DAY. Exhausting. I think we can say from this example that grief was impacting the job.
Now equally on the other hand, the job made the grief worse. Even though I was looking forward to a change, I didn't realize how much I would miss some of my favorite parts of teaching first grade. Also, I had no idea how self-conscious I would feel teaching preschool. After the first day, I lost complete confidence in myself and my ability. This was a new feeling for me and these unexpected changes hurt deeply. I wilted and withered away. Spent blossoms drifting to the grimy dirt. And when you're in the dirt, you're really down... about everything. On top of grieving for Callie, I was grieving these changes too.
It has taken a few weeks for me to actually get to the point where I could write something positive. (I'm getting there...promise!) In the meantime, I had written approximately a hundred million bitter, mean, vitriolic letters and blog posts mentally (and even some on paper) just to spit out all my anger about what a raw deal we got. Because that's what it was. A very raw deal. The crappy part of the random-rare-genetic-disorders-crapshoot. But every time I went to send the letters or publish the posts, I thought better of it. It was the grief talking. Maybe one day, from a long distance out, I'll share some of those thoughts. But not now. Instead, I was lying low. Struggling to be positive. I hoped and prayed it would come.
And it did. Along the wings of yellow butterflies crossing my path. They seem to fly around every time I need some reassurance. Oh yeah, and I think I bounced back about the hundredth time I did "Pfft the ketchup". Because after a hundred times, how do you not cave in and laugh? I learned to accept the changes that have come my way. Notice I did not say 'embrace'....nope, not embracing. But I got over my ridiculous self-consciousness. I stopped being so serious and found my silly, goofy side again. I grew some of those good-ol'proverbial balls. I even parted ways with the leftover first-grade wistfulness. Goodbye, Henry & Mudge. Goodbye, Chrysanthemum. Hello, Brown Bear, Brown Bear! Hello, Pete the Cat! In short, I learned to turn the page.
Someone sent me a quote recently that I wish I could relocate. Essentially, it went something like this...even though there are pages in the story of my life I would like to rip out or re-write, I can't. If I did, the end of the story wouldn't make any sense. I turned the page this past week. I opened up the book to a new chapter. Once I stopped being so sad about having to turn the page, I realized that the story was still pretty good. Even slightly funny. Like the part where one little chica in my morning class ALWAYS has her buttcrack showing...obliviously drafty. And, the part where my name has transformed from Mrs. Chameleon to Mrs. Canini (rhymes with panini...getting closer!). And also the part when I asked the kids to share their 'happy thoughts' (from another silly song) and one girl responded, "I thought about rainbows, and unicorns, and butterflies, and sunshine." Direct quote. That's pretty darn happy. It's contagious. I'm afraid to say it...because I'm worried that if I do it'll come back to haunt me...but I think the old Mrs. C. is back. Different, but back.
Here's hoping for a happy ending to this story. Thank god for rainbows and unicorns, butterflies and sunshine...oh, and don't forget the GUACAMOLE!
p.s. if you are a teacher that loves Kevin Henkes like me, I hope you picked up on some Chrysanthemum themes in this post. This was my subtly rebellious way of teaching this book again, somehow, someway. ;-)