I had a vocation. A vocation I knew was mine from the time I was in second grade. Sister Guadalupe was my muse. I loved her as only a seven year old girl can love a sweet, soft spoken nun. I dreamt of her at night, I stared lovingly at her soft hands. She smelled of clean cotton. Not the clean cotton that Glade sells, but really, clean cotton. The clean white cotton that comes straight off the clothesline. It took me a good thirty years to surrender to my vocation.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I became a teacher. I taught the same children for seven and a half years, plus a few months of eighth grade. Of the 25 graduating students, 17 of them have been with me since first grade. I was so enlivened by this vocation. I loved going to school. I loved seeing all of their bright faces, their toothless grins. I watched them grow. I watched their new teeth grow, I watched them stretch from wee to taller than me.
I spent my days planning their lessons. I spent my nights asking their angels for guidance. I prayed and laughed and learned so much from these young souls and from their parents. In the summer before seventh grade, I hurt my back getting the classroom ready. I ignored it, thinking it was nothing, just age, overwork, stress from the anticipation of a new school year. I wasn't the same that fall. Every time I fell ill, or tired, my back would hurt. I pressed on. I am a single mother, sole bread winner. I would think about it on my sabbatical.
In December, I took my class bowling. I was distracted while bowling, trying to supervise the students, especially when a few of them decided to start throwing themselves down the lane with the bowling ball. I felt okay when I left.
At three in the morning, I awoke with severe pain. My right leg was paralyzed. I couldn't move. I had herniated a disc. Really bad. Seventy percent of the disc matter was pressing into my spine. It swelled in my sleep and caused the nerves to shut off. The next few months were plagued with battles with the insurance company. I will not get into it, save to say, it felt like hell. I know there are other hells worse than this one, but for me, it was bad.
My employer had a hard time communicating with me, our relationship began to deteriorate. Once I had the surgery, several months after my injury, I committed myself to recovering so I could return to school. When I returned to school, it was not at all what I had imagined. It felt like they were purposely trying to make it difficult for me. I had a part in it, I am sure, but I was surrounded by individuals moving out of fear. There was no love, no aloha spirit. My doctor pulled me from work. He felt it irresponsible to let me return. I wasn't sleeping, I was barely making it through the day.
I spent my time off taking stock. I realized that I did the best I could. I really did. I could say that I sacrificed my own children for the children in my class. But I won't. We all knew what we were doing. We all chose this path. I spent my time off healing, really healing. I was there for my own children, my daughter's last year before university, my son's first year of high school. For the first time in a long while, I was present, fully present for my family.
There is more to this tale, but I feel like throwing up and crying at the same time...To be continued.
Posted by Alberta Art Classes at 3:13 PM