Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When Teaching Hurts

I recently came across this post by Ashley Hurley (@ashleyhhurley) in which she encourages bloggers to blog for themselves. It inspired me to blog about something that is very close to my heart - something I've been afraid of even mentioning here. When I created this blog, I wanted it to be about my teaching heart - my passions, my hopes, my dreams. It's impossible for me to ignore this post for any longer and stay true to that goal.

Sometimes teaching absolutely breaks my heart. Not only in the sense that many teachers understand in the pain I feel when I get a glimpse of what my students are going through outside of my safe haven, and not only in the sense that teaching takes every ounce of me until there is very little left, teaching breaks my heart because it is, at it's soul, a career of loving, caring for, and inspiring children. My life revolves around children, and I love them dearly. What hurts is that those children are not mine.

There is no course in college to teach new teachers how to deal with teaching while battling infertility. Luckily most teachers don't have to deal with. I have been dealt these cards though. My husband and I have been fighting this war (and if you know what I'm talking about, you'll understand that it truly is a war) for two and a half years now. I've had surgery, been on all kinds of medications with ridiculous side effects, and prayed harder than I've ever prayed. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be 26 years old, married for almost four years, and have no children. This whole battle takes it's toll personally. It occupies some portion of my mind at all times. Recently, as much of my hope seem to be slipping away, I rarely have a day where I don't shed a tear or two when I wake up in the morning and realize there isn't a sleeping child in the room next door.

That personal toll has impacted my teaching in so many ways and I'm tired of it being a factor.

I'm tired of going home at night to think about those kiddos who are struggling only to find myself thinking, "I could do better." That's a ridiculous thought, and I hate that I've thought it.

I'm tired of kids repeatedly asking me if I have kids of my own and, when I answer no, asking me why. More importantly with this one is that I'm tired of feeling upset when they do ask me that. My war is silent and invisible; there are no physical signs that I'm hurting. It's a war that is way beyond what my students can understand. I cannot fault them for innocently asking questions.

I'm so stinkin' tired of Mother's Day. I love my mom and celebrate her every year on this day, but it hurts to know that I'm not a part of that group. Mother's Day is big in schools, too. The amount of time I put into getting my kiddos' gifts to their mothers ready weighs very heavily on me. Last year, we actually put on a whole circus (literally) for the kiddos' mothers on the Friday before Mother's Day. I had to wear a clown costume in front of a gym full of mothers, and I hate that I was the teacher who had to leave in the middle of the performance to cry in the teacher's lounge.

I'm tired of having a legitimate excuse to spend every waking hour at school. I don't have kids to take care of at home, and my husband works long hours. Why should I go home?

I'm tired of having the room in my heart to love my students as if they were mine. I'm tired of pretending and laughing it off by saying, "Well, luckily I have 19 lovelies at school who need me."

I'm tired of feeling my heart break a little bit more when some sweet mother brings her newborn infant to school to have lunch with her school-aged child. The kids all coo and giggle and crowd around, and I stand back wishing that was me.

I'm tired of feeling sad when the teacher next to me in the teacher's lounge who already has multiple children talks about how she plans to have many more. It hurts to know she'll probably get just that. What about me?

I'm tired of looking at the staff Christmas cards posted in the lounge at Christmas time. Sure, my husband and I send out a Christmas card each year with a picture of us, but I don't feel worthy of the Christmas card bulletin board yet. I so want to be worthy.

Above all of this, I'm tired of being tired of these things. I want to be that happy teacher without these dark pieces hidden in her heart. I want to be able to forget all of this and be okay with being an amazing teacher. Most days, I can do this. Sometime, though, being a teacher hurts.

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