Sunday, May 22, 2011

Those Glorious Days of Summer?

Summer. A word that makes every kid’s heart leap and all teachers sigh with relief. It signifies an end to a school year, a break, a rest from the daily grind. Summer when I was a kid seemed endless, with so much to look forward to: long, hot days spent swimming at White Water, screaming gleefully on rides at Frontier City, listening to my dad mow the grass while I read contentedly in my room, driving to Tulsa to visit my grandparents, and playing basketball with my neighborhood friends until it was too dark to see. The list, it seems, could go on forever. My favorite childhood memories are from those carefree summer breaks when the days stretched before me…each one a new possibility.

As a teacher, my outlook on summer has been a bit different. Every year I hear, “Must be nice having two months off,” spoken with a detectable trace of derision. Questions like, “What are you going to do with such a long break?” and “How long do teachers get off again?” are asked with a hint of incredulity. A teacher’s summer is spent a little differently than one might think. Most teachers, including myself, use those months to plan and shop for the upcoming year, actually get some things done around the house, and, oh yeah, work a summer job! The summer days no longer stretch out before me as a sea of memories waiting to be made…they fly by in a state of fast and furious “doing.”

As a non-mother, this summer will be unlike my previous “teacher” summers. I’ve spent the last 2 summers pregnant, full of hope, my mind occupied with what might be. This summer, despite my busy state, I am afraid the days will instead stretch out before me in a sea of memories I may never make. I plan to heap even more responsibility onto myself, in hopes that the days will, indeed, fly by as they have in past summers. A little SWITCH (youth group), maybe some dog training (working towards Koda’s Canine Good Citizenship), even a little baby-sitting. Somehow, I’m not sure if it will be enough to keep my mind off the shower I should be planning and the nursery I should be decorating.

With summer just a week away, the non-mother in me finds myself wishing I could stop time and hold at bay the day the teacher in me has been looking forward to for so long. Summer, that beautiful taste of freedom, suddenly feels too oppressive to face. What will I be doing with my two months off? Whatever it takes. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Dexter. I’ve been rewatching the first season, and I realize now one of the many reasons why I love it so much. I really identify with him. Not the serial killer part, but his emotional awkwardness. He has to fake emotions in order to fit in, as he has no feelings of his own. Now I wouldn’t say that I’m THAT far gone, but I do often feel as though my emotional responses aren’t “normal.” I have comforted many a friend as they cried about MY situation whilst I sat dry-eyed. I have recounted some of my darkest days to others while seeming as detached as if I were talking about the weather. I have stood in the diaper aisle of Wal-Mart wondering when the tears were going to come…reading about other women weeping over Pampers in their local grocery stores told me surely that was the “typical” miscarriage reaction. People have implored me to remember my babies through plants or trees or even through giving them names. The thought that none of those things ever crossed my mind…well, chalk another one up to my oblivious insensitivity.

Now believe me, I do cry. Put Marley & Me on television or give me a Nicholas Sparks novel, and I’m bawling unabashedly. It’s easy for me to cry for someone else’s situation (especially when it involves a furry, four-legged friend). There’s just something about the vulnerability and egocentricity of crying for myself when others are around that I just can’t handle. However, just because I can go out in public and talk about my situation without tearing up, Dexter-style, I’ve found that people think that means I’m “okay” enough to be subjected to all sorts of interesting commentary and advice. I’ve read numerous articles online regarding this verbal phenomenon, so I decided to consolidate the information (plus a few of my own gems) into a list of things NOT to say to me, or anyone else suffering through recurrent miscarriages or infertility, for your own personal safety. *Each faux pas is followed by my unspoken reaction for a little sarcastic relief. (Read at your own risk…)

10) Kids aren’t that great anyway. *Then give yours to me.

9) Maybe you’re just not meant to be a mom. *Ouch! Below the belt!!

8)8) You’ve gained some weight! *Yes after five pregnancies with no time in between, you tend to gain a few pounds. And the grief eating doesn’t help. Oh, and YOU’VE gained a few pounds. (I didn’t say the reactions were mature…) Haha

7) Have you tried XYZ? It worked for this lady on the internet… *Oh, I’ll tell my doctor with years and years of experience who has read just about every study known to man on fertility issues and attends all sorts of conferences. I’m sure he’ll be happy to have a cure.

6) Oh well, you can always adopt. *When this comes from someone with their own biological children, it’s a knife to the heart. The inability to have a child with mommy’s lips and daddy’s eyes is a huge grievable loss, a vanishing dream, not just some small inconvenience.

5) I know how you feel. *Not a good idea to say to ANYONE going through anything remotely tragic.

4) God has a plan. *Not helpful unless God has told you what it is and you’re about to impart that knowledge upon me. I know it’s true, but hearing it doesn’t change anything.

3) When are you going to give up on having a baby? *When you buy me a baby.

2) Well, there are worse things that could happen. *Great line for a new Hallmark sympathy card! You should submit the line right away before someone else steals it!

1) Nothing. *I’ve talked about this before – no need to say it again.

I don’t say ANY of this to induce guilt, because if you’re sensitive enough to think I might be writing about you, you’re sensitive enough that you wouldn’t have said any of these things! Also, I know that most of these comments and questions are born out of genuine concern or to fill the uncomfortable silence. I rarely take them to heart or hold them against anyone because God knows I’ve said some TRULY idiotic things when I didn’t know what else to say. The best things to say? I love you. I’m praying for you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. That means more than all the well-meaning advice in the world.