Friday, Day 21 of the blogging challenge: the topic is “what makes me sad?” Lots of things make me sad. Abuse, poverty, injustice, hate, ignorance…I could go on. Unfortunately, all I can think about that is making me sad right at this current moment is that this blog challenge still isn’t over. *screams* Me and my first world problems. :p
I try not to focus on things that make me sad because it’s easy to become overwhelmed and depressed as a result. That’s the reason I don’t watch the news or watch a lot of movies & television which contain tragic events; it just sticks with me and makes me a basket case. Sad people have the same effect on me as well. I could attend the funeral of someone I have never met in my life, but seeing their loved ones cry, feeling their pain, is all it takes to get me in the same state.
Funeral Attendant: “Oh hey Beth, I didn’t know you knew Mr. Hinkerton Houserbottom. How did you two know each other?”
Me: *sobbing* “I…I…I didn’t.” *nasty snotty nose noises* “I came in here looking for my grave-digging b-brother-in-law; didn’t want to interrupt the service so I st-stood in the b-back…bu-but it’s s-so saaaad!”
Funeral Attendant: *Rolls eyes, offers kleenex* *Pats my head like he’s comforting a golden retriever*
See, there are many things to be sad about, but since I feel like I should narrow this down I did think of one thing that has been plaguing me recently & tends to come & go at a pretty regular rate. Sadness over my kids. Not that my kids make me sad; on the contrary, they make me very happy. It’s my own inadequacies as a parent that make me sad. I have those days where I feel like I’m kicking this parenting thing in the face (*happy dance*) and then I have the ones where I feel like I can’t do enough or I can’t do anything right.
I see all the moms nodding because you know the feeling right?
Currently the big struggle is with my youngest & school. She has struggled so much in school since 1st grade & I can’t help but go down the long list of could have, should have & what ifs. Those are completely pointless thoughts, but that doesn’t stop us from having them does it? It doesn’t make it any better when the teachers (however well-meaning) make you feel attacked, or like they are accusing you of not doing enough. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I always feel going into any sort of parent-teacher conference. I feel anxious & unfairly judged.
*Here we go again…another half hour where I sit and listen to all the ways I’m failing my kids, so much fun!!*
*Oh yay, here’s my favorite part! The Condescension! “Your child is just SO SWEET….but…[followed by all the ways in which she’s lacking. That list is always much longer than the cursory compliment which is meant to soften the blow, but somehow only serves make it feel worse]*
Of course the teachers rarely (if ever) mean it to feel that way, but those are just my own irrational feelings. Remember, feelings aren’t right or wrong, okay?
*Therapist voice* This is a safe space.
Anyway, I’ve always wanted to ask other moms if they too experience this inescapable feeling of dread when conference time comes around, or when you get any sort of communication from a teacher. The crushing anxiety. The pep-talk you have to give yourself before walking into the building or picking up the phone. (Because it’s never good news when I hear from a teacher.)
*Do not cry. Whatever happens, do. not. cry. You are a strong, loving parent. This is to help your kids. Be strong. Do. Not. Cry.*
I want to be the mom that just instinctively knows what her kids need in every area of life, but when it comes to school I can’t reconcile between they need to work harder and they need a break. School in America is ridiculous in the first place with their lofty standards, sped-up curriculum, standardizing everything…but that’s a different blog post. How do you balance between their down time when they’re home and the demands of the classroom?
If they have homework or classwork to finish, it has to be done. If they have projects, they have to be done. Even if all of that is taking away from their down time, their chores aren’t getting done, instruments aren’t being practiced, extra curricular activities are completely neglected, dwindling your family time…sucking the life out of everyone in your family from 3:30 – 9pm. (Can you feel my eyes rolling?) I want to set a good example for my kids regarding work ethic & earning things, but the demands from schools do seem excessive to me. I want to be able to tell the teacher this at the conference without making it sound like I’m blaming her, and I want to be able to come up with a solution that works for the classroom and at home. One that keeps my child accountable, but also doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out & use it to strangle myself or someone else.
There never seems to be a good compromise though. I sit there listening to teachers give me all this advice about my kid (who they don’t even really know by the way) trying not to cry & feel helpless, & I can feel them making judgements about me, making judgements about her because of me. Am I the only one who feels this way?
When you look something like this up on Google all you get is a list of articles about The 10 Types of Parents Teachers Hate and Things You Should Never Say To Your Child’s Teacher or forums where teachers complain about the parents of the children they teach and make assumptions about what is or isn’t happening in their home. (Don’t ask me how I know this…) Where is the support for parents who are doing their best, but feeling overwhelmed, insignificant, and even attacked? The weight of that potential judgement from teachers and faculty stresses me out. You could say it makes me sad.
The fact that most of the time I feel like I’m not doing enough for my child while simultaneously feeling like I’m doing everything I can without having a nervous breakdown…makes me sad. The fact that I don’t have the patience & the organizational skills required to homeschool makes me sad. The fact that I can’t afford private school…nah, that doesn’t make me sad. I don’t really want to pay thousands of dollars to have people judge me when I can get that judgement at a more affordable rate elsewhere.
The point of my post is not to berate teachers so I hope that my teacher friends will not take offense. I am only sharing my general feelings which, while they may not be an accurate representation of the reality of a situation, they are the feelings & fears that go with me into every encounter with a teacher, counselor, principal, etc.. I respect and value teachers & I know that most of them respect the parents of the children they teach, but to search the internet or Facebook you wouldn’t think that. The internet is chock full of teachers complaining about one aspect of their job or another (which I understand) and parents is what they complain about most; not necessarily with my teacher friends, but generally speaking.
If I had one big blanket suggestion for all schools (who am I kidding, I have tons, but for the purposes of this post I picked this one), it would be to make sure that your staff is contacting parents with good news often, definitely more often than you’re contacting them with bad news if you can manage it. Every time someone from my kids’ school calls me, I have a 3 step process:
1 second of panic, 3 seconds of doubt where I don’t want to answer the phone, and then the part of my brain that does all the adulting kicks in and makes me answer it.
I never get good news from a school faculty member without it being followed up with a “but.” If the military can have stress cards and colleges can coddle 20 year olds over the results of an election, then schools can help their more anxious parents out with a few nice phone calls or emails per year…just to let us know we’re doing something right. That would make me very, very happy.