Sunday, April 10, 2016

Trying to be a good teacher AND a good daughter




Let's be honest, being a teacher is hard. I teach kindergarten and there are days I go home completely spent. Having given so much of myself to my students. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching, I love my students but their needs are never ending. It can be exhausting. But we are also mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. If you are lucky enough to still have your parents continue to cherish them, love them, laugh with them. For the vast majority we will one day watch our parents die. Being part of that eventual transition of being the child to becoming the caretaker for our parents is often an emotional one. To watch a powerful father who commanded respect become so sick that he is confined to a bed wearing a diaper is awful for him and awful for you. To see your mother, who took care of everyone and everthing, need you to be her voice, to ask for her pain meds, to feed her. It can be unbearable one second and feel incredibly noble the next.  No one gets out unscathed. We will all have our day when we lose the person who loved us most, who saw the very best in us. Losing that person changes us; we are never the same. Never recover.

                                                                     


The transition of illness to loss is a painful rollercoaster. Often filled with tears, fear, and loneliness. But we must continue either during the illness or after they are gone. Our job is hard. Our students need us in a way that an accountant will never understand. For goodness sake we can't even go to the bathroom when we need to. Every teacher I know has trained her bladder to go hours without being emptied. There is no relief to walk away and have a moment after or during loss. 


So to those of you out there that are suffering with an ailing parent and trying to be an excellent teacher, here are my words for you. You are not alone. There are hundreds  thousands of us traveling the same path. Let's reach out a hand to our teacher friends and lend a smile to those who are smiling on the outside and crying on the inside. Let's start this week with kindness and support in our heart for our fellow warriors. Let's focus on the humanity of the teacher. Let's stand together. We may be "Mrs. Larsen" from 8:30-3:00 but we are "my loving Della" the rest of the day and into the night  as we sit in a hospital room hour after hour watching our parents slip away. 

Let's remember to always be kind and gentle to those around us fighting a battle no one knows about. 





13 comments:

  1. Oh Della. Thank you for your post. I just lost my mom three months ago. Before her passing, I was making weekend trips, 4 hours away, to help with care. And now my dad needs me. I am exhausted, physically and emotionally. Thank you.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your loss and pain. I feel similar. I lost my mom and now I fear I'm losing my dad. Teachers are givers by nature, but it can take it's toll. I stand with you!

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  3. So heartfelt! I lost my mama 3 years ago, and I could barely make it to work on some days. I would cry in my car all the way to school and then have to put on a smile and teach. I'm a pretty private person, so not everyone knew what was happening, and some staff members were so cruel. I think this is great advice to never forget. Everyone, everyday, is dealing with something we don't know about.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know losing my mother has been the hardest thing I've ever gone through, I'll never "get over" it. I'm sorry your co workers are not being more supportive. You are not alone, we stand together.

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  4. This is very well-written! I lost my mother 16 months ago after a 2-year battle with Alzheimers. Starting a new job in a new school just as she needed round-the-clock care ended up being brutal with little support from my new co-workers. I teach children with emotional/behavioral disabilities, so I was spent each day long before I got to the nursing facility at night to feed my mom. Looking back, I have no idea how I survived those 5 months. Thank you for writing such a heartfelt piece.

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    1. I'm so sorry you went through such a hard time. It is amazing how we push through the pain and struggle and only once we get to the other side and reflect upon it, are we amazed at how we survived it. We are all part of a sisterhood of daughters who care for our parents while also caring for our young students. I hope you feel your mother with you.

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  5. It really is helpful to read everyone's stories, including yours. Just know that no one is REALLY ever alone in their experiences is uplifting. Thanks again for writing the tough stuff.

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  6. Thinking of you and everyone else that shared their stories.

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  7. Thank you for writing this post. I started this past school year with both parents in the hospital. On the second day of school, I visited my stepdad first, because it was his birthday and mom wanted me to bring her some of his ice cream cake, lol. Then, I found her quickly declining that evening. I was in the room when she nearly died and they put her on a ventilator. She survived two weeks on the ventilator, and six more weeks in an acute care hospital, while my stepdad recovered (mostly) from his stroke and was sent home. She went home for November and December, with me staying some nights to help. I moved in with them January 1st and we lost mom on January 20 at home, surrounded by her kids, husband, sisters, and grandkids. Three days later, my 1 year-old nephew was put on a ventilator and I took care of my 3 year-old nephew while my sister and her husband stayed at the hospital. All this while trying to figure out my most difficult (and largest) class ever. However, sometimes those hours at school were my saving grace. I could be normal me. Kids counted on me to be normal me. Ok, over sharing done. I really appreciate you sharing that we are not alone.

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  8. Oh, my nephew recovered after three weeks in the hospital. Sorry to leave out that detail!

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