Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Parenting Fears?

Ever since reading the Woman to Woman topic for the week, I've been genuinely stumped. Parenting fears. Do I have any? I've been trying to think of some.

I've been a mommy now for five months, but I feel like I've been a parent for many years. I have been a junior high choir teacher for 10 years. I have worked very hard to be an enthusiastic teacher and good example to all the kids I come in contact with. In fact, I've always called them "my kids" whenever I talk about them. When talking about "my kids," I was often asked….

Person: How many kids do you have?

Me: Um…around 500 or so.

The students seemed to love that I thought of them as my kids and I'm still in touch with many of them. (Yay for Facebook!) They have always assured me that I would be a great parent once I had a child of my own, so I guess I believed them and once I found out I was expecting, I really wasn't that scared.

I'm also not scared about having my little guy hit his teenage years. I started my career in an inner city middle school, then moved to a suburban junior high, then moved to an affluent suburban middle school. I've seen about every kind of kid (and every kind of parent) there is. I'm good at holding my ground and sticking to my rules and good at saying no and understanding that doesn't mean that I don't love the kid I'm telling no. (I know what you're thinking – you're thinking I'll turn into a sucker when I have to tell my own kid no because I love my own kid so much more. I don't think that will be the case. For a long time, I didn't think I would have kids of my own, so when they were in my class, I tried to teach them with the same energy and commitment I would my own. So, I'm pretty sure I won't turn into a softy when the G-Man wants something he can't have.)

What are other people scared of? Having their kids turn out okay as adults?

My hubby has already helped raise two amazing kids. Both are happy, productive adults. Both are very respectful, thoughtful, kind and comfortable in any situation I have ever seen them navigate. Both are a blast to hang out with. One is a college graduate and the other will be graduating in May. I feel privileged to know both of them. My husband, their mom and their step-dad worked hard and did a fantastic job raising them. So, since I have an in-house-kid-raising expert who has successfully navigated a boy and a girl through their childhood, teenage years and into adulthood, I guess I'm not scared about having G-Man turn out okay.

I do worry that my attitude is somehow politically incorrect in the mommy world. I think that I should worry more to fit in. (How silly is that? I worry that I need to worry more. Good grief.) I've had a couple of moments when I have worried about G-Man (when he was in NICU right after he was born, when he came home and wouldn't nurse and couldn't keep down formula), but because much of it happened right after he was born and I can blame the hormones for most of the craziness I felt. And everything turned out fine, just like everyone said it would.

The only time I truly remember feeling fear so far on this parenting journey was last January. I was about 6 months pregnant and was teaching a choir class. We were about to watch our recent concert and critique ourselves to prepare for our upcoming spring concert. The assistant principal walked in and told the other choir director to turn off the TV and that we weren't to use any computers, televisions or any other technology in our teaching until further notice. Then with no explanation whatsoever, he walked out the door.

It was obviously something serious, but we were given no further information. We muddled through the rest of class with our lesson plan now scrapped because the TV had been banned. I ran to my personal laptop once the students were gone see if I could find out what had happened. The local news websites said the nearby high school was on lockdown. As information trickled in throughout the day, (they were in CNN mode - updating with tiny bits of information as they came in instead of waiting until they had the whole story) it turned out that a 9th grader at the high school had been stabbed and killed by another student. The administration had ordered the TVs and computers off because they were trying to keep the kids from finding out what had happened as the investigation was going on. And because the student who had been stabbed had a younger sister in the 8th grade at our school. They wanted her mom to be able to come get her from school and get her home. (The thing was, the kids already knew. Even the girl knew something had happened to her older brother, though she didn't have exact details. Friends and siblings at the high school had been texting students at our school all morning. I hate texting.)

It was a stressful day.

At a meeting that afternoon with the police, many of my colleagues were angry with the administration. They knew something had happened at the high school, but because of the investigation, our administrators weren't allowed to talk about what was going on. So, the teachers with sons and daughters at the high school were just left to worry all day until they heard from their kids.

As the meeting broke up, one of my colleagues turned to me and said, "I'm leaving. I'm going to go home and hug my kids."

Then, I was scared.

I've been through a lot of scary things as a teacher. I've broken up numerous fights, I've led kids through tornado drills, fire drills, lockdown drills and an actual bomb scare that caused an all school evacuation and move to the local high school, I was teaching on 9/11 with kids who had parents in the Pentagon that day and parents that worked as flight attendants and parents who were on business trips with no way of knowing when or how they were going to get home. I stayed calm through all of this. I knew I could keep the kids safe. But that day, I suddenly felt vulnerable. That if I had to protect one of "my kids," could I do it without hurting my real kid? And when I had the baby, if I chose to keep teaching, what if I got hurt in a situation like this? What if he gets hurt when he goes to school?

It was upsetting. For the first time, I was afraid to be a parent. I didn't like how vulnerable everything suddenly felt.

Then I remembered two things I have learned in many situations that have already come up in my life.

1. Heavenly Father isn't going to give me something I can't handle. He promises that. So, even when it feels like I can't handle what comes my way, I remember that I can with His help.
2. Faith and fear can't coexist. This is something I think about a lot. I think sometimes fear can push you to find your faith, but I know that when I feel fear, I am usually paralyzed by it and I can't find the faith I need to have in my Heavenly Father to handle the things that are coming my way. When I remember that I can't feel fear and have faith at the same time, I let the fear go.

So, to make a long post short, I guess I don't have any real parenting fears that stick out. And when they do pop up from time to time, I remember that my Heavenly Father is working on this parenting project with Diggity and I and then the fear disappears.


Lei said...

I cna only imagine what an eye-opening experience being a teacher can be. You seem to have great faith, which is important! Thanks for joining us... hope you'll participate again in the future. :)

Yvonne said...

I'm so glad you decided to do this. I knew you would write a beautiful post and you did.

Ace said...

Is it okay to say that I really feel lucky to have met such a woman? I feel blessed to know you. You really are an example of what more teachers and moms should be like. You changed countless lives. Including mine. Like i said before, I want to be like you when I grow up.

Sarah Jane said...

thank you so much! you inspire me! I need to worry less, and hope more. in the words of one of the characters from wizard of oz from the 1904 classic "I believe it is wrong to worry over anything before it happens." amen to that, and amen to your marvelous post.

mumple said...

It's amazing how some situations/events will effect us (and our kids) and in others, we still feel safe and don't seem to be effected.

You've got lucky "kids" and "kid". Take care!

Michal said...

you definitely don't need to worry in order to fit in. if you can avoid all of the neuroses that seem to come with motherhood, then good for you! i'm constantly worried that my flaws will turn out to be a detriment to my kids that will have them in years of therapy! oh, well!

Angela said... is nice to have you join in. Thank you for touching so many lives as you teach each day.
Your child will be one awesome child...because he has the best mother ever.

As a teacher, you wear almost every hat a woman can wear. You are like a second mother to your students beginning with the first introduction.

Thank you for touching and inspiring our student's of the future!

Have a wonderful week filled with love and laughter.

Please join in again.

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