I submitted my grades yesterday, thus wrapping up another semester of teaching writing to university students. I realized that during every single semester that I’ve taught over the last four years, events in my life have presented some variation of a huge, hulking challenge that has threatened to derail me.
In other words, there was never just teaching. There was also my life going up in differently colored flames due to one thing or another.
I have to imagine that the same is true for my students. No one goes to school (or work or anywhere) in a vacuum. We carry our hardships within us; they are part of the fabric of our being. It’s something to be aware of, and is a great justification for kindness, yo.
Anyway, as I reflected, I pulled out my phone and made this cheery little list of the things that have (for me, outside of class) characterized each semester for years:
- teaching while Jack lived at home and was literally beating up me, his brothers, and the appliances/windows/sinks/toilets/whole house
- teaching while placing Jack into residential care
- teaching while grieving
- teaching while my dad was dying
- teaching, again, while grieving
- teaching while Jack was being hospitalized in a neuropsychiatric unit
- teaching while Jack was being kicked out of his group home placement and transferred to another one, three hours away
- teaching while handling the sensory issues and neuroses of various other children, including but not limited to being able to: eat food, go to school without melting down, be flexible and less rigid about ideas/routines/situations, and be responsible enough to handle a bit of independence
- and, inexplicably, teaching while undergoing an inward spiritual awakening that exceeds everything I’ve ever learned before about spiritual things
Occasionally, in the midst of a semester, I’d think to myself that it would be really kind of amazing to not have some outside tragedy happening at the same time, like clockwork, predictably, all the time.
Now I think I’m at a point of accepting that a) apparently this is how my life works, and b) God has seen me through each semester plus tragedy so it’s all going to work out somehow, someway.
I’ve written extensively in the past about each of the things on the above list, except for the last bullet point. To clarify, I have written continuously over recent months about the intense and consuming awakening of my spirit, but I haven’t shared it. This is not because I’m hoarding the things I’m learning. It’s because I’m not at liberty to share them.
I’m letting the spirit lead out on this one. And currently, what I’m getting is this: be quiet and listen.
Inward things aren’t visible, and yet they’re real. This is an education.
At some point, I might be at liberty to talk about it. For now, I’ll just say that I’m learning to be more attuned to frequencies which aren’t spoken aloud. If this blog seems a little quiet and reclusive, this is why.
So in regard to the semester which has just ended, my non-teaching life wasn’t facing major tragedy (yay) but it was a time of major change.
To end this (possibly unsatisfying post), here are a couple of other observations courtesy of moi.
- I love my job. So much. Working with a rotating bunch of undergraduates every semester is delightful and I love them. Teaching is such a gift in my life, and knowing my students and former students brings me happiness. They are amazing humans.
- In the seven and a half years since Truman’s birth, which was the unwitting beginning of the worst years, I’ve been to the depths and back. But if I hadn’t experienced the trauma of a preemie, two more kids with special needs following Jack’s diagnoses, living in Poo Town, and the onset of puberty making Jack super violent, I wouldn’t have come to the point of complete submission to God’s will that I did. Perhaps I’m possessed of a prideful nature. Maybe we all are. Whatever the reason, I needed to have my life leveled in order for me to be ready to receive the big lessons my Heavenly Parents were waiting to give me. So, I’m grateful.
- Through recent experiences I am learning to understand my children better and wow, they are remarkable people. Maybe this is the point of all this–knowing my people for who they really are.
- Change is possible. Growth is possible. Miracles are real, and my life is Exhibit A regarding this.
- I love cookies. Frosted sugar cookies. Big, chewy chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate fudge cookies from Sodalicious which are basically brownies pretending to be cookies. I love them all. This is neither here nor there. It’s just the truth. I stan the cookies.