The Transfer of Mothering

There’s no denying it’s been a tough winter. Since December we’ve been battling injuries, experiencing traumatic loss, and watching people we care about learn how to live with a new normal.

It’s been five months of deep, belly-filling breaths, long moments of silence and staring into the horizon, and valiant attempts to trust the journey we are on.

And it’s been a month since I found myself waking up on the floor of a restaurant, not quite sure how I got there; a month since the transfer of mothering took place, right before my eyes.

I remember seeing my daughter’s face as I came to; next to her, closest to my head, was her boyfriend, calling my name and asking me if I knew where I was and what was the name of the president. The looks on their faces signaled that something had gone wrong. All I could think about was my daughter, watching me lying there on the floor, and I was helpless to sit up and hold her, to reassure her that mommy was OK, even though I wasn’t quite sure that I was.

In fact, I wasn’t. But I am, now.

About five minutes before I hit the floor
About five minutes before I hit the floor

I’d never been on a gurney, never ridden in an ambulance, never been a patient in an ER. Sure, I’ve brought my son to ERs all over northern and central America (true statement), but I was always the mom on the side, asking the questions, making the decisions.

This time, it was up to Lily.

She was the one listening to the directions and handing over the insurance card. She, with her quiet control, was reminding me that it was all OK, that I would be fine, and not to worry. That things would all work out.

Her voice echoed mine, the words I’ve whispered to my children in times of crisis, in moments when fear tried to pull the strings.

Turns out, she was right.

This transfer of mothering was nothing short of magical.

I watched my daughter as she will be as a mother. I saw her ability to think on her feet, to quietly comfort, to do the right thing at the right time, even if she wasn’t quite sure.

Even if she didn’t have a handbook to tell her what to do next.

As I lay there in the ER, IV pumping fluids through me, I felt comforted knowing she was sitting beside me. I’ve always known this would happen someday – I just expected that it would be when my hair was a bit grayer, my steps a little shakier, and when my hands would look less like hers and more like my mother’s.

I found myself having to relax into the moment. I needed to be brave, to surrender my fear, loosen my grip on her and trust that all would be well.

And it was.

A snap of April's calendar by Kelly Rae Roberts, reminding me to embrace the change.
A snap of April’s calendar by Kelly Rae Roberts, reminding me to embrace the change and hold on to what matters.Kinda perfect, isn’t it?

On this Mother’s Day, I’ll spend the day like most other Sundays; I’ll walk my dog through the arboretum, breathing in the cool morning air. I’ll listen for the egrets flapping their expansive wings as they relinquish their perch, startled by my presence. I’ll write in my journal, and maybe go outside and feel the warm spring dirt crumble through my fingers as I scatter morning glory seeds along the back fence. This Mother’s Day, like every day, I’ll write words of gratitude for the life I have, for the children that bless me with such joy. I’ll try to smile with thankfulness that my baby girl is testing her endurance nearly four thousand miles away along La Peregrinación del Camino de Santiago de Compostela’.

This Mother’s Day, like every day, I’ll write words of gratitude for the life I have, for the children that bless me with such joy. I’ll try to smile with thankfulness that my baby girl is testing her endurance nearly four thousand miles away along La Peregrinación del Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I’ll warm with indebtedness for my son’s healing body, for my husband’s steadfast reassurance that we are on this journey together.

And on this Mother’s Day, I’ll set an intention to remember that every day is Mother’s Day, and that things are going to work out.

In fact, they already have.

Mantenerse a salvo, de la niña. Mami te ama.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Trust The Journey

“Ring out the old, ring in the new. Ring happy bells, across the snow.

The year is going, let him go. Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

~Afred Lord Tennyson

It’s clear and frosty this morning. C is asleep in his bedroom, and the house is still. Silent.

In the darkness, I journey down the stairs and nudge open his door, knocking into skateboards and loose lacrosse balls. He groans, “It’s still dark, Mom. What are you doing?”

“Just checking on you. It’s what mommies do. Are you warm enough?” I whisper.

“Yes….” his words come out in one breath as he rolls over.

“Go back to sleep, bud. I love you,” I reply, and gently shut his door.

Back upstairs, I light my candles and prepare for the last day of 2015 following my familiar morning rituals. Candles. Journal. Quotes to think on.

I notice the cantaloupe-colored sunrise just beginning to peek through my open window. There’s frost on the roof next door, and the trees are bare, thin branches mimicking the overhead power lines across the street. The candles flicker around me.

This won’t be the first New Year’s Eve we’ve spent apart from our four-person family. Our plans carefully crafted to coincide with Lily’s trip home from college, altered when C crashed into a tree ten days ago, taking the impact with his head.

Grateful for his high-tech ski helmet. Grateful he walked away.

2015 with mamawolfe

It’s been a rough journey for my boy since August 3, 2014, when he broke his leg on a race course at Mt. Hood, Oregon. Three days back into training this year, another setback.

I’m grateful he will recover. But I’m tired of this.

I’ve been in too many ERs and hospitals and exam rooms; I’ve read chapters and chapters in waiting areas and labs. I’ve asked occasionally for help, I’ve questioned and I’ve accepted. Mostly, I’ve kept it all inside.

I can “Fakebook” with the best of them.

I know how to selectively post, how to check in and let you know where we are. I gram and tweet and snap and I could tell you what a high school friend ate for breakfast (PG and J), who is on a romantic night away from the kids ( 🙂 ), and which motivated friends crawled out of bed in the dark for a frosty run. I see your smiles as you ski, the shared meals and new loves. I can almost see your life right there, your clues about 2015 shining through your status updates.

I see the pride, the hope, the joy and sometimes if you’re honest, a glimmer of sadness – all amidst those ordinary moments of living this journey.

Facebook proclaims it’s 2016 in Australia now, so the resolutions have begun. The lists, the fill-in-the-blanks, the wishes and dreams that maybe if we say them out loud, might just come true.

Instead, I pull out the box of memories I keep faithfully filling year after year, and open my journal from 2014.

Just curious, I think. What’s changed? How have I filled a year’s worth of living?

The cover proclaims, “yes to growing and reaching, yes to healing, yes to soulfulness, yes to joy,  yes to vulnerability, yes to change, yes to beginnings.”

Yes, I think. I’ve said yes to all of that this year.

Scanning the pages, I remember how sick I was this time last year – down on the couch, coughing and achy and sneezy kind of sick. Today, I feel well.

Last year I was reflective, grateful, struggling with change and believing in possibilities for the year ahead. I dreamed of joy and understanding.

I was hopeful.

It’s an hour later, and not much has changed. The sun is peeking through, reminding me that blue skies will be here soon. I can sill see the melon colored hue melding into the fog; the frost still clings to the roof tiles, and this, here and now, is still my extraordinary life.

Tonight I’ll ring out the old, I’ll let go of 2015. I’ll ring in the true.

This year, I’ll remember who I wanted to be when I grow up. I’ll trust the journey that’s taking me there.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Summer Isn’t Just For Vacation

Summer vacation is almost here – teachers- are you dreaming about your summer vacation yet?


Growing. Trusting. Dreaming (big). Discovering. Feeling alive. Blooming.

The verbs jump from the calendar as I turn the page to August. Yes, yes, yes! Kelly Rae Roberts may not be a classroom teacher, but her artwork aligns with exactly what I’m feeling this month as I transition away from my only school-free days (July) and into a month of endings, movement, preparation and goodbyes.

Summer vacation is a teacher’s curse and blessing, all wrapped up in one big present you’re not always sure you want to open. For teachers, summer isn’t just for vacation.

I’ve always lived by the school calendar; I’ve never had a ‘real’ job that wasn’t in education, and I mark the passing of time by the start and end of the academic year. January may be the time for most people to make new year’s resolutions, to reflect and reminisce and plan and prepare, but for teachers, that happens as the August days sizzle, the vacations are in the rear-view mirror and the summer mornings still offer time for quiet contemplation.

Map Maker's Children book

Since my first official teaching year started in 1991, August has been bittersweet; the slowness of hot July days or travel to exciting locations has dwindled into something more real. The teacher dreams begin, so familiar yet absurd; not being able to find my classroom, suddenly teaching Spanish, or being unable to literally see my students due to the reconfigured classroom and the complete classroom chaos caused by custodians insisting on vacuuming in the middle of class to prepare for the ‘dress rehearsal’ haunt my sleep. The summer vacationto-do list, looking so ambitious and completely possible in mid-June, now is merely a half completed reminder of all I didn’t do. I quickly count down the ‘free’ days I have left, knowing that most of them will be consumed with lesson planning and classroom cleaning and meetings and meetings and more meetings, until one day the alarm will scream and I’m back in the rhythm of school.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful for the summertime freedom, I am not – without the unscheduled days of July, I’m not sure I could have sustained this job for two decades. After nine months of living by school bells that tell me when to talk, when to move, when to pee and when to eat, the endless moments of absolutely no expectation are sheer bliss.

on top of a NY mountain

They are the days I grow and dream, the hours I discover myself again away from my ‘teacher’ persona. They are the moments for my children, for me, for feeling alive and allowing my passions to bloom outside of the classroom. Summer mornings spent digging in the dirt of my garden, righting the chaos I allowed to grow forth in the spring, rejuvenate my spirit. Hiking seaside trails with my children, the wind on my face and the sun on my shoulders, restores my connection to the world. Baking bread and cookies and creating a meal full of love, my daughter by my side, deepen my relationships.

Summer vacation squashes into six to eight weeks of restoration, moments of anticipation that began last October. That’s when the back-to-school adrenaline usually wears off (for me and the students) and I begin making my ‘that-can-wait-til-vacation’ list, tasks that require more concentration/dedication/money/brain power than the weekends from September to June offer. Teaching isn’t just a 7-3 kind of a job, after all.

So as I turn the calendar one more page, I’m struggling with what-has-yet-to-be-done. The to-do list sits half completed. The days with my girl dwindle before she moves away again, and I find myself choosing between her and it. I know the moments are precious; I know that the filing can wait. I trust that I still have growing and dreaming and discovering to do.

Summer isn’t just for vacation. Summer is for feeling alive, for blooming back into me.

Summer Isn't Just For Vacation

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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