Teaching my own
“Uuuggghhhh! Mom!” Yelled Brayden from across the classroom.
“If you would like help, please come here and I will help you,” I responded in a calm tone. I was surprised at how calm I actually felt.
“Help!” He screamed even more loudly as the rest of the class continued to work quietly on the assigned task.
I repeated my previous request like I would with any other student. I stayed where I was and let him know I was available to help.
After some more complaining, he eventually came over and we worked together.
Two years ago, I would have been embarrassed my own child was acting this way. I would have felt a strong need to control it and go into full-on damage control. I would have cried about it once I was by myself. I would cry because of the way I reacted, beating myself up for wondering why he could not behave and act like everyone else’s kid, sitting quietly with the work.
This time, I felt none of those things.
Recently, I realized the only thing I ever wanted as a young mom was for my children to behave. I was constantly under an invisible pressure to ensure they acted a certain way. All. The. Time.
It was exhausting. The weight of carrying this burden was drowning me. I would tread to keep my head above water, with timeouts and gentle reminders. I would ensure everyone got a nap and got to bed on time to help with good behavior. But then one of my kids would act up and it would push me under. My belief of always having to display good behavior was pulling me under, deeper and deeper, a rock attached to me as I sunk to the bottom.
I only felt good if we could get through a situation without a tantrum or incident.
And while I may have appeared calm on the outside, (or maybe you caught me in one of my own tantrums), I never felt it.
I would go home and berate myself for not being a better mother. I very rarely blamed my child. I knew it was my parenting that was the problem.
But little did I consider giving up this belief of “good behavior = a good child/good parent.”
It has been a process. It has not happened overnight but over three years of realizations, questions, judgements, forgiveness and healing, I understand this belief is mine and it is flawed. It is my own shit that is getting in the way of being the mom I want to be and I have always wanted to be so much more.
I want more from my kids, more from myself.
I don’t want good behavior. I just want them.
I want to know them deeply.
I want to have meaningful experiences with them.
I want to spend time with them.
I want to be able to look back on these years with happiness in knowing I slowed my own life down to prioritize them.
I want to know Brayden as the human God made and gave me. Having him in my class, I have been able to see him through a different lens by being his teacher.
His personality is unfolding for me to see each layer. He is funny, charismatic, asks questions without judging the question, blurts out his thoughts no matter the classroom atmosphere, accepts everyone for who they are, is too passionate about topics and being right, gets distracted by anything that looks more fun than what he is currently doing, has an innocent heart, is truly kind, still likes to play imaginary, is inclusive of little kids who look up to him, and so much more I have not yet discovered.
Being Brayden’s teacher is a blessing. I was unsure of it. I didn’t want to teach my own kids for fear of their misbehavior and me being exposed as a bad mom. I’ve had to be incredibly vulnerable, accepting myself for my flaws, knowing I am continuing to strive for acceptance.
True growth has occurred within me; no one can see it but I can feel it and it feels SO good.
It has been hard to see that maybe the problem has been me all along.
I needed all my healing and growth to get here. I often think I am not even close to the same person I once was. (Or maybe I've always been in there but it has taken me time to peel back the beliefs and fear to expose my true self.)
Once upon a time, I wanted to have a career and the traditional structure of two parents working while our children were raised by school and others. We did this.
And it has not sat right with me.
It felt gut-wrenching to know my children were being raised by others, spending 40+ hours with people I barely knew. Strangers. Strangers who had 25+ littles to raise each day.
I have made lots of big and small changes within myself and for my family. I can’t go back and undo anything but I can move forward.
So we move forward together. Grateful and blessed for the time we will now have together.
Brayden can scream for help and yell for me because I understand he is in a new transition. He gets frustrated easily and I can help him. I can see why he does this and I can also see him growing out of it because he will gain confidence; I did not judge him or try to control him for acting this way. I just let it be. I addressed the true problem of him not understanding the assignment versus his reaction to it. I have come to accept him for who he is.
He will know he is loved now with his flaws and again in the future when he comes upon more obstacles. I know it is my job to accept him, love him, and gently guide him to his true self. He is the only who can discover this.
I have done this for countless other children over my thirteen years in education. I’ve guided and molded them and tried to help them discover who they are and who they want to be. It is time I offer this same grace and acceptance to my own child and the younger two in the years to come.