Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oh, how I have denied my love for too long

I know, I know, it has been nearly a year since I have blogged. It as been one of the roughest years of my life. I lost a beloved parent. I have lost a parent before, when I was just 21 years old. This time I not only had to deal with my grief, but the grief of my children. Those of you that know me, know what a big part of our life G-pa (pronounced geee-pa by all of his grandchildren) played. When I began to teach full time, when Alli was in 1st grade, all three of the kiddos went to G-pa's every morning and afternoon. They got on and off the bus at the same house that I used to get on and off the school bus.

G-pa always had afternoon snacks in the fridge. Not healthy mom approved snacks, but fun snacks, that only grandparents buy. Fun sized candy bars, pop, chocolate chips straight from the bag, full size gatorades, get the picture. Did he buy these things because he also liked to indulge? quite possibly. Did he make sure that my kids didn't overdo it? Usually. Did they all enjoy eating these forbidden snacks together in the afternoon? Certainly!

This weekend, while cooking with my eldest daughter, I called her by the nickname my dad used for her. She burst into tears and as we stood in the middle of the kitchen hugging each other and crying, I realized that the grieving is long from over.

Grief has lingered in our house this winter, rearing it's head at the most unexpected times. We have all reacted in different ways. I have a talker, Alli. My youngest daughter talks about dad the most. She seems to express what we are all feeling. Corey is quiet. He has always been quiet about his emotions. He tends to seek proximity when he is hurting. Sitting next to me, sleeping on our floor (don't tell his friends), going with me on errands, and doing the thing that brings the memory of g-pa back to him- playing golf. Maggie and Leo get grouchy and moody until it all bubbles over in anger and tears. I try to keep everyone from hurting. My family might say, I also get a tad grouchy.

We have practiced these roles before. Just 5 years ago we lost David in a bike accident. David was my step-son. The counselor assured us that all the ways we dealt with his death were normal and healthy. It sure didn't feel normal and healthy!

The difference for me revolves around my masters. I have been in an accelerated master's program this year. You would think the added stress was the hardest part of this. The hardest part was in fact, the absence of one of my first and greatest loves...books. Of course, I have done plenty of reading for my masters, but that isn't really reading in my book. (I haven't lost my ability to use bad puns). Real reading is authentic. Reading self-selected books, books I am interested in, books that make me a better person and teacher are all real reading. I have not kept up with my course work the way I would normally. My answer to this slacking is to deny my reading habit. I didn't allow myself to read anything other than text books unless all my work was caught up. Considering my lack of concentration since September, there has been very little self selected reading for this chica! Looking back over the past year, this was probably a huge mistake. Reading has always been a sanctuary for me. I would have normally read silly senseless books, books about grief, books about parenting, professional development books, young adult books... to deal with my emotions. This year I forced myself to read books about research and technology. I am not uninterested in these subjects, but these books did not feed my soul. They did not comfort me and take me away from reality for short periods of time.

I have come to the conclusion that reading is a need not a want (1st grade standard) for me. I am afraid I handled this past year horribly. I wasn't a great teacher, student, mom, wife, sister or friend this year. The positive- I did survive. My class will no longer be mine in two more school days. (My class was awesome this year) I will finish my masters degree in three weeks. My family will continue to grieve, but we are all surviving.

What have I learned from this past year?
1.) No matter how old you are, it hurts like hell to lose a parent.
2.) One year masters programs are just a little intense for full time teachers
3.) Self selected reading is super important for everyone, not just my students
4.) My family doesn't fall apart in the face of tragedy
5.) And..reading may be a type of therapy for me

So, as I enter the summer, I have a stack of books waiting for me. They are behind my desk at school, on my bedside table, in my van, and on my shelf in the living room. Remember, I didn't say I refrained from buying books, just reading them. Their call is getting louder. I will answer it soon. I already feel the comfort they will bring.

P.S. I doubt anyone is still reading this blog but I needed to write. How did I forget how therapeutic it was to write on my blog? The cheapest therapy around!