Saturday, May 24, 2008

Valuable Lessons from Teaching, pt. I

There remains only one week of school left in my career as a teacher.

I mean, who's to say I won't ever go back to teaching? There were so many students I just fell head-over-heels for. So many lessons I loved teaching. So many books I loved submerging into with my students.

But, you know what gets me -- what really sucked my enthusiasm? Feeling like a failure after the endless hours of hard work. I've had countless cathartic conversations with Jen F. about this. (Oooh, note my beautiful alliteration.)

Some people are total cowards. My principal happens to be one of them. Especially when it comes to sticking up for his teachers. So, when some not-so-bright parent comes in to totally thrash on the teacher, he always sides with the parents.

Now, I know I sound harsh here, but you have to understand something about me: I really, really, really want to get to the truth of the truth of the truth. I want to figure out where I've fallen short, and I always try to fix it and do better. I don't want to be one of those people with glaring flaws everyone but me can see.

However, I have come to the understanding that sometimes -- sometimes -- I am blameless or nearly blameless. And I've only come to that conclusion after weeks/months of sincere pondering.

But Mr. Principal always -- mm-hmm, always -- sides with the parents. Even when the parent is a total nit-wit. And there really are nit-wits out there. (Yes, it's taken me hours of pondering to come to this grand conclusion as well.) For instance, I've come across parents who tell the teacher to spray their child with a water bottle when he misbehaves. Or parents who defend a child who has cheated. Or who wants the child to make up all their missing work from several months ago in the previous term and receive full credit for it. Yes, all these people are right. And I am always wrong.

After putting in countless hours of hard work -- and more importantly, giving the best my heart has to offer -- I am wrong, and Mr. Principal admonishes me to learn a valuable lesson from my failure.

Teaching has taught me endless lessons. But, unfortunately, the two lessons standing out at the end of this year are that (1) some people are cowards, and (2) sometimes, I am right.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Watch out, she's back on her soapbox.

When it comes to parenting -- well, maybe when it comes to more than just that -- I like to see things done naturally. That is to say, the way they've been done for thousands of years in thousands of places up until someone in America decided technology could improve God's design.

For instance, sleepingwith your baby. I was reading the wikipedia article, "Co-sleeping is standard practice in many parts of the world outside of North America, Europe and Australia, although even in these countries children sometimes crawl into bed with their parents. One 2006 study of children age 3-10 in India reported 93% of children co-sleeping.[1] Co-sleeping was widely practiced in all areas up until the 19th century, until the advent of giving the child his or her own room and the crib." (emphasis added.) I especially like the last sentence. The reason everything changed -- after being the same for thousands of years -- was some victorian-era know-it-all.

How fascinating. Now, at this point, I should probably take a moment to make sure you know I'm not a radical on this issue. Really. In fact, I never planned on having Betsy sleep with us. It just happened. I could tell it was what made her the most comfortable. At the time, I was very nervous about it, but the idea has grown on me in a big way.

Motherhood is certainly a job. And it's not the kind with lots of rewards. And, if we're being honest here, it's totally redundant. Every day, people just keep needing clean clothes. And wanting food. And eating on dishes. And, gosh darn it, that baby keeps crying. Every day. Speaking of her, Betsy stops me short in my tracks. It doesn't matter who's over or what game we're playing or what plans I made, when she needs to eat, my world stops. That's just how it is. When she cries, when she needs a diaper change... I stop. My life just really isn't my own.

That's not to say that I don't like motherhood, but I'm making the point here that it is a change. A big one.

So, some days wear you out. Just an ornery hour can wear you out. But that crazy snuggle-at-night time just overwhelms me. Her tiny body, breathing in so lightly, trusting me so completely. Her toes, meeting me at the waist. Her middle-of-the-night hiccups. In the silence of night, I am strengthened. I am renewed. I'm ready to take care of the cries and the diapers and, especially, to sacrifice my own will for hers.

I love feeding her. I love playing with her. But my absolute favorite time is when I contort my body into a "C" to snuggle up next to her. It's my reward. And it's better than any reward any office could offer.

This morning, I spent 20 minutes this morning just snuggling her, watching her drift in and out of sleep. Watching her, I just couldn't wait for her to wake up. So I guess I'll be ready for her cries.

There might be trouble down the road, when we have to wean her from sleeping with us. But for now, we both just love going to bed. (Okay, maybe we've always liked it.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Playing Mr. Mom

Playing Mr. Mom is about what I expected it to be. It gets a little scary when I am running back and forth from home to Mickelle's school to pick up milk, but so far Betsy has been a good sport about it. Mickelle gets the "Monday Morning Blues" about Sunday night at 5pm. It is a bit of a weird feeling knowing that I do not have a set time to wake up the next day or a huge list of things to do for homework. I feel a bit of a slacker, but when Betsy cries I'm always there to calm, feed, and take care of her. I really like this time I have with her. I feel like I do not have to be one of those Dads whos baby starts to cry and he hands it over to the Mom. I want my baby to feel just as comfortable with me and she does with Mickelle. So, instead of trying to cram a million things into the time I am home with Betsy, I play with her, bounce her, and make her laugh. I can already see the effects and only wish I had more time to spend with my little girl. I want a job I cna work from home, and be there when my kids come through the door telling about their day. I want a job that I don't have to spend 50 hours a week at just to stay on top of things. And then I look at what businesses are requiring and I don't know how I can get one of those jobs. The only way I can think of accomplishing it, is to start my own business and hope it's successful. In the end, does the job matter anyway? It's all about the family.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

pomp & circumstance

Kids grow up so fast these days.

Seeing Scott graduate was quite the cause for celebration. Another cause for celebration is the fact that I think this is the first post-pregnancy photo in which I am finally accepting of how I look. I'm not DONE losing weight, but at least in this photo most of my chin fat is gone.

Of course you're thinking to yourself, "I knew that Mary Elizabeth was a cute girl, but wow, she makes an adorable graduate." And you're right. Getting her all ready for the big day was no small feat. (Although, for the record, hers still are.) I didn't think any quandary truly existed that Google could not cure. Well, it appears infant/baby/child graduation/commencement cap and gowns/graduation clothes is it. After searching every combination of the above, I ended up asking Kinzie to create a pattern. And, I have to say, I stand in awe.

Scott's parents came down for the graduation, of course. My picture of them at the ceremony kind-of bites, but I wanted to include one of them from this special trip, so here goes. It's SOOC and the white balance is totally, totally off. I was experimenting with my WB settings and definitely learned a thing or two about what not to do.

Any questions about who is the center of the (Provo) Shea world?

So, now my sweetheart is working for Dr. Guthrie and starting on his master's thesis in the evenings and playing Mr. Mom during the day. And if I know Scott and his little girl, there's plenty of "play" to it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Taking the stand.

For our entire marriage, we've always had callings together. In Cedar, it was ward missionaries. In our Provo apartment, it was teaching gospel doctrine. In our current ward, it was gospel doctrine and then ward missionaries with Scott as the WML. We had it pretty sweet, and even though we were nearing our "year mark" at which they give you a new calling, I wasn't too worried. That just meant we'd go back to teaching GD. Right?

So a few weeks ago, the Bishop's secretary called and told us Bishop Gough and President Snow wanted to come by. Seeing as we were getting a new counselor in the Bishopric and a new RS president, we weren't really feeling all that chill when the two stopped by.

But we faked it, like good little kids. They didn't breathe one word about callings -- just chatted about the baby, our future plans, the house. You know. The Bishop had helped Scott on putting in a new sub-floor before we laid the linoleum in the kitchen, so they came and saw how the kitchen was coming along.

Well, that same day (before the Bishop arrived, actually) President Garner's secretary called and asked if we could meet with the Stake President before church on Sunday. Yes. Something was definitely afoot.

And, drumroll please, they put Scott in as the second counselor in the Bishopric. (Two weeks ago. Yes, I am already behind when it comes to this blogging thing.) He was sustained in Sacrament Meeting and immediately took the stand.

Looks like it's just me and you, Betsy. Seven minutes later, she was crying in my arms.

He came home the other day and mentioned that Bishopric meeting was probably going to be changed to Sundays at 6 a.m. Six a.m! Looks like no late-night dates on Saturday. And if she cries on a Saturday night, I'm back on duty. This leaves Friday night as my only reprieve. Thank heavens she (usually) sleeps (moderately) well. But I am so happy to support him in his service.

Since we were both released, it means we're released and I'm up for a new calling. I keep reminding Scott I don't want to be in primary. Since there's all of 2 or 3 kids in it, I think I'm safe. (Don't get me wrong. I love kids. But it's so hard to get to know people when you're in a student ward with such a high turnover. You just have to be in RS to get to know everyone.)