I scan the football field at the end of every play checking to make sure my kid is on his feet. Nothing prepared me for the moment I realized my child was still laying on the field injured. My heart sunk. Our 13-year-old wasn’t laying for long before cautiously sitting up. A coach was out there quickly, and B walked off the field unassisted. But pain was plastered on his face. Every inch of my momness wanted to walk onto... [Read More]Read more
We’ve had children at the same elementary school for eight years. I’m comfortable with the staff. I have a good understanding of how things work, how I can be involved as a parent, and the best avenue to take when issues arise.
We’re in year two of middle school. I was more nervous for that first day of middle school last year than our son. I was clueless on what to expect from parking to volunteering to knowing teachers. I wanted to be involved, but didn’t know how to make that happen. Our school holds monthly parent lunches in the library. The administration and staff showcase students and their work along with giving more in-depth looks at classes in the three grade levels. These lunches helped me to feel like I was part of the process, and I appreciate them.
Fast forward to back-to-school night at middle school this year. The principal invited parents who were interested to help with reading conferences with students. I checked with our son for permission, because he’s a teen and that place is HIS place, and said I was interested in helping.
Here’s the thing: I love the act of learning. I never missed class in college. I read a lot and on a wide range of subjects. I like to learn new things. I also love children. I like seeing in their eyes when something clicks and begins to make sense. I like the process of watching them grow and add to their knowledge little by little.
Middle school students are not children. The idea of having a teenager living in my house calling me mom scared me as we moved closer to that magical 13th birthday. I said yes to volunteering in a middle school classroom filled with tweens and teens. That choice was a huge leap out of my comfort zone.
Three weeks ago when I went in for my first time to volunteer, I had to give myself a pep talk. I stood in the office waiting to sign in and thought I was going to vomit. I can’t remember when the last time I was that ridiculously nervous. The thought that saved me: my son would potentially die of embarrassment if his mother vomited in the office. There is no way that would stay secret in the gossip mill of middle school. I had to keep my hot-mess self under control for his sake.
Guess what? It was FINE…completely fine. It was super enjoyable. I had fun in a room where I was most definitely out-numbered by tweens/teens. They weren’t even a little bit scary. They were respectful, and for the most part, eager to talk with an adult about what they were reading. The last two weeks I’ve scheduled middle school volunteering on my calendar because I don’t want to miss being involved.
I haven’t been in my son’s class, that dying-of-embarrassment notion has kept me away, but I think he may eventually invite me to come to his class. It takes a little over an hour of my time once a week to help during two class periods, and I can do more if I would like. The bonus for me, aside from doing away with my silly trepidation toward teens, is seeing a brief glimpse into my son’s day.
I had no clue what modern middle school classes were like. I envisioned my experience decades ago. That’s not what I’ve found. The teachers I’ve been exposed to in middle school have a great respect for what these teens can accomplish. I wanted to hug the teacher after my first day in her class and tell her how good she is at what she does. More dying of embarrassment: your mom hugging teachers will also make it’s way back to you and you shouldn’t have to deal with her emotional nonsense unleashed outside the safety of your house.
If you’re interested in being involved, take that first step to inquire at school. You may find you’re grateful to be outside your box.
I rarely ask for help with the logistics of running a family. We have no grandparents to give us a hand, so all chauffeuring and encouragement at activities falls fully on Craig’s and my shoulders. It’s exhausting and rewarding and really exhausting to be the only ones who are there to watch the kids succeed and, sometimes, struggle in their various activities. Sharing the load makes for less stress and frees room for more enjoyment. I’m looking forward to having... [Read More]Read more
Football. It’s all-consuming in our house in the fall. The boys play it, talk about it and watch it. After school is scheduled around when, where and who needs to be at what field with two boys playing tackle football and one playing flag football. It’s our fault they’re passionate about the sport. We’re the ones who opened that door years ago. I was a newspaper sports reporter before I was a mom. Sports was what I watched, researched and... [Read More]Read more
I woke up this morning the mother of a teenager, and I feel relieved. Yes, time goes too fast. Yes, I cannot believe our oldest is 13 years old. BUT, despite all the times I’ve felt like I failed our son, he’s thrived for 13 years, and I can see the all those lessons we’ve taught him taking hold. Today I’m patting myself on the back and high-fiving Craig. We’ve been parents for 13 years with no instruction manual or... [Read More]Read more
I read the words, “I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known.” I slowly inhaled and gently closed the book. To be known, for someone to clearly and completely understand who you are, and love you anyway, this is what I want. I found the words for my feelings on the fourth page of Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale.” The story is lovely and sad, but honestly,... [Read More]Read more
When we found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, I knew it was a boy. I thought I was destined to be a mother of men and liked the idea of a house full of boys. At my 20-week ultrasound appointment, my doctor told us our baby had a hamburger, not a hot dog. We were adding a girl to the family. I left in disbelief. Not because I didn’t want a daughter, I thought we only made... [Read More]Read more
We’re tent campers, so when we have the chance to camp with an actual roof over our heads, it’s a luxury. We actively search for ways to avoid bringing a tent, cots, and air mattresses while still enjoying the camping experience. Six sleeping bags require quite a bit of packing space. This summer we’ve slept in a yurt, a tipi and now a U.S. Forest Service guard station. The Forest Service has cabins of varying degrees of size, amenities and cost... [Read More]Read more
Today marked the start of my 8th year with kids in the public school system. More importantly, it was the first time I left school at drop-off with no children. I’d like to say it was no big deal, but it was infinitely worse than I imagined. None of this has to do with the children. The children were fine, excited even. Today was selfishly about me. The kids, even our freshly-minted kindergartner, are pros at this school thing. They... [Read More]Read more
Cities and I have a precarious relationship. I like the idea of visiting a city, but inevitably, the closer we are to a city the more my desire to visit fades. Traffic makes me antsy. Crowds make me anxious. The abundant choices are overwhelming. I can only handle a city for a long weekend before I have to search for open spaces and less traffic. I do enjoy the novelty a city offers. I crave the unique and free-spirited. I... [Read More]Read more