~the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
~a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
~intuitive understanding and insight.
The way a person sees an event or actions.
Each person has their own perception. No two people see things the same way. How boring would the world be if we did? Somehow in our own perceptions we need to be able to bend our view to the views of others.
Sometimes even our friends can teach us a thing or two about perception.
In having a conversation with my friend about parents I realized each of us was raised in a different way.
My friend unfortunately lost her father at the age of 13. It was and still is devastating. He was her daddy. He loved her the way only a dad can love a daughter. He protected her, and guided her. She misses him. I could never begin to comprehend losing my father like that, because I didn’t. That does not mean I can’t be friends with her. It means I have to bend my view to reflect hers in moments of intense emotional conversations.
We started talking about life while she was nursing her daughter. It hit a spot with me. I love my mother dearly. We are both teachers, we both have the same personality, and we both even end up wearing the same outfit on occasion. Very often we end up wearing the same color pallet on the same day, and even comment how we almost wore something else, and we both say the same thing. We have a bond that is close. Psychologist Erik Erickson would say this bond was formed while nursing. The whole Trust vs. Mistrust stage of life. Unfortunately, my mother tried, and was unable to breastfeed me. She never told me. She never harped on it. She didn’t have the internet to search for my symptoms, find a friend, complain to the world and then get support. She just fed me. Breast or bottle, she fed me. Thankfully, because I am here. I only know this as an adult because I asked when in school we talked about breast vs. bottle. I asked again as an adult nursing my first child. I wanted to know if nursing felt for her the way it felt for me.
I had sleep apnea as an infant. This meant that I stopped breathing in my sleep. To this day, I have problems breathing through my nose. This obstruction would make nursing difficult for sure because while you nurse, your nose is your primary source of oxygen. My mother spent months sleeping upright in a recliner, with me on her chest, so that I wouldn’t stop breathing in my sleep. She sacrificed her own mental health for my life. During the day, she walked around with a smile on her face. She brought me to preschool and dance and the zoo. She is my mom. She did what she needed to do. She never once brought this up. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized what my mom sacrificed for me to live.
As a teen, and even into young adulthood I resented her for a long time for nursing my sister and brother and not me. I have even gone as far as to blame my weight issues on her lack of breastfeeding efforts to her face. The say “Ignorance is bliss” I say that “they” (whomever they are) do not realize how powerful knowledge is. How powerful empathy is. The depths of knowledge we gain as we age are unlimited.
I gained perception…
I know better now.
I was her first.
She tried, and cried, and decided to love me to life. I choked when I nursed. I cannot imagine how much that scared her. So, she held me, slept upright with me, sang to me, and fed me a bottle. In turn, I survived and was loved. As a parent now, I would wish nothing else for my own children. The love a mother brings is special. It is different than other love. The pressure we have as moms today is huge. I imagine the pressure then was no different. Just different.
As I journey further into motherhood, and teaching, I realize that the moments my mother frustrates me the most, are the moments she is holding me up to be certain I don’t fall. I often revert to teenage brat who does not need my mom to tell me how to do it. The moments she is choosing to speak up, are the moments I am screaming with my fingers in my ears “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!”. The moments she tries to show me how to do something, I am three and screaming “I do it myself!” And yet, she keeps talking, she keeps holding, and she keeps showing. After all, that is what our moms do.
I wish I could do it over.
I wish I could grab that three year old, swoop her off her feet and say, “Do you see your mommy crying in the car? That is because she has to go to work and leave you with her parents and she just wants to be with you!”
I wish I could grab that 13 year old brat by the shoulders and say , ” you are so ungrateful!” ” your mother is working two jobs full time and finishing her Masters degree and she dry walled a room in the basement while your father is ill so you could have your ‘privacy’ you so desperately asked for!” “Thank her, love her, do you know what she sacrificed for you?”
But I can’t.
I thank her now. I drive her to the doctors when she needs a ride, or just a companion. I talk with her on the phone for hours about nothing because we both need a bent ear. I buy her books for school because we both love them, she buys them for me as well. I go on vacation with her because I can. We drink “Blue Drinks” and dance in the pool. I want to be with her now, because I overlooked all of those years. I did not want to be with her, I resented her presence because unfortunately that is what children do when they are teenagers. We both are a lot alike. Stubborn and brave.
Now I choose to spend my time loving my parents. Being present. Making phone calls. Just listening. Why? Because I get it. I don’t get it. But I get it. As our perception changes, so do our parents and our children. In reality, we change.
I remember the planes, The buildings, Howard Stern on the radio as I made the very long drive into work for a “telemarketing” company. I drove down a long stretch of 2 lane highway. Open highway with grass in the middle. I remember driving, but not driving. All of my fellow commuters listening in absolute astonishing disbelief. I remember all of us looking towards the sky of our cars as a single military plane flew over the highway. I sat in the parking lot of my work, they still wanted us to go and knock on doors. I realized what had happened, and I quit. I drove home. My grandparents were visiting from Oklahoma. They were supposed to fly home that day. September 11, 2001. They stayed an extra week.
October 13th, 2001, Steve proposed. The events of that day made him realize how short life is. they made him want more. They caused him to propose to me. I didn’t know this then. I do now.
November 16th, 2003, we were married. It was beautiful, and a bit tragic. My grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Steve’s Aunt suffered a seizure. My Aunt could not come because of weather? or my uncle’s health? Or her health? Truthfully, the reason escapes me, but her presence was missed. Happiness wrapped in sadness.
September 11, 2003…
I was in labor. My doctor didn’t believe it, but I was. We headed home. I ate Burger King, and watched Friends, and the contractions started. Long, and hard, and too far apart. I walked around my dining room for the whole night. In the morning, I went to the hospital, and after much fanfare, my oldest child was born. 12:47 PM September 12, 2003. He weighed 8 pounds and 4 ounces.
I became Mama…
His journey has not been easy. He can be quirky, he doesn’t always fit in. He is loved. His teachers rave of his skills at school. His friends think he is funny, and I feel blessed to be his mom.
I was so adamant that he not be born on September 11. It was too fresh. Too real. I did not want him to share a birthday with a national “holiday” I wanted him to be special. Unique.
I got my wish. He is special and unique, and I couldn’t be prouder of his hard work and dedication to his school work. It is not easy for him. He fights for his grades, has trouble with organization, and sometimes is distracted. He is compassionate, loving, and eager to please. I am proud to be his mom, and I am proud he shares an “almost birthday” with such a special day.
On this day of remembrance, I remember so much, and I am so grateful. I wish I could have seen then what I see now, because September 11th would have been a great birthday. yet as he turns 12 on the 12th, I am grateful for every moment. Being mama. It all started 12 years ago…
I met my husband right out of high school. I never dated in college. We went on dates. We had fun, but in reality he was in a 3 year Bachelor degree program, and I was trying to double major in music education and special education. Our dates consisted of movies rented at Blockbuster (yes I am that old!) and doing homework. We would study and quiz each other and fall asleep on his couch while reading text books. I would find myself sneaking back into my house at 4 AM because we fell asleep and were exhausted (sorry mom and dad!) I never did the whole “single and ready to mingle” deal, and I know how lucky I am.
Steve and I have always kept it really casual. We do dinner or a movie, or we do take out and Netflix. I am back in school, finishing a degree I should have finished over 10 years ago. He is working more than I have ever seen before. We have three boys, and we are wanting to move to a bigger home with more land and less neighbors. Therefore date nights are casual.
We also take a lot of time to be with our friends. We have discovered that being with our friends helps our marriage. We vent to our friends, we come home to each other and we feel relaxed.
Tonight he is out with his friend, I am home reading text books and our boys are in bed. I do miss the days of highlighting textbooks side by side, but I am grateful for the opportunity to do it. I dropped out, got married and had babies right away. Thirteen years later, I am almost finished with my degree, still married after a hell of a few years, and a mom to three beautiful young men. I wouldn’t change a thing!
So, Friday nights aren’t what they used to be, but they have new meaning. I am working hard to be a better mom and teacher and wife. We are working hard at our relationship. Our boys are working hard in school because they see us working hard every day. Studying my text has new meaning as each chapter shows me that as a mom, a wife, and a teacher I have so much to learn, and I do so much right. My doubts may step in, but my knowledge and my heart remind me that my passion is imparting wisdom on children (my own and others) and learning more myself.
Always keep learning, always keep teaching, always keep growing. Your relationships may depend on it!
I may be mama, but I am also teacher and student. Right now in this season I am beginning my classes for fall semester.
Starting back to school means that I am learning class room numbers, making sure my text books are correct, and assessing my syllabi to determine if I can manage the course work.
Sometimes this process means that I decide to drop a class. This semester I am doing that. I had registered for an “online” course however the exams needed to be taken in person during the day, while I am teaching Kindergarten. Well, that doesn’t work. I thought long and hard and decided that the psychology minor is not nearly as important as being a dedicated teacher, and student.
In life we need to determine what is healthy for us. How much is too much? What can we handle? Where is the line?
I have decided that the line is here… My children need me, my students need me, and my husband needs me. Not in any particular order. I hate that I am not able to take a full load his semester, however, I know that it is for the best.
The part that worries me is the instructors who say “wow, you have your hands full!” Why? Because I am finishing my degree and teaching and a mom? Because I admit that I am working hard to finish and keep working? Why do we feel the need to compare each other’s journeys?
We are all individuals. We all work as hard as we can. Why is anyone more driven than anyone else? Let’s face it. Every student in an evening class is there because they work all day. Who chooses to take a class at 7 pm? Someone who has to. Someone who needs to take a class and has to balance work and family and school.
So professor, I appreciate your sympathy, but we all are driven, we all are working, and we all know how hard this work is!