The end of the year means a quiet time for me. This year more than ever. And yet in the quiet I find solace because I realize just how much I have learned from those that surround me. Many of these lessons really came through in the last week where the unexpected 10 week early arrival of our daughter reminded me of just how much I don’t know.
I learned this week, once again, that we cannot control everything. That even when we think we know what the plan will be, whenever it involves children, they ultimately steer the plan. So while I think I may know exactly how to get somewhere, my students often have a better idea, it is important to slow down enough to listen to them.
I learned this week, that what you read matters. I can see when I love a book because all I want to do is sneak moments to read it. When a book is not for me, reading becomes a chore even when on bed-rest. When we tell a child what to read, even with our best intentions, we may change reading into a chore and nobody likes that.
I learned this week that goodbye matters. When I left to go into the hospital again, after I had told my students I would be back the following day, many of them understood but could not get over that I had not said goodbye. Everything had happened so abruptly that although they understood they still wanted to make sure I was ok and without a quick goodbye how could they know that.
I learned this week that receiving help does not mean you are greedy. Many people asked how they could help and whether they could bring a meal. While this goes against every Danish bone in my body (you just don’t get handouts!) my instinct told me to accept with gratitude. I cannot tell you how much easier our lives have been just because someone took care of dinner. How often do we say no in our classrooms because we don’t want to appear demanding? It is time for us to start to say yes instead, especially to the little things.
I learned that while we feel the need the need to be by the side of one child, our other children need us even more. Augustine really needs time to grow in the hospital, our other 3 need us to be parents full-time. The balance is so hard to achieve but we try every day. Just like our students need us to be there for them, there are days when one needs us more. It is our job to realize who has the biggest needs that day and juggle everything around it, while realizing that sometimes it is not the kid that seems the most dire that has the biggest need.
I learned this week to be present for every moment. When you get to hold a 3 lbs baby in your arms, and you can barely feel her, every grunt matters. Yesterday my husband held her for the first time and as she reached out her hand and placed in on his heart the whole world stopped. I wasn’t on my phone, we weren’t speaking, we were just there in that moment, part of it. How often are we present in our classrooms for those small moments of success?
I learned this week that it is not the fault of others if I am tired. Some times life gets in our way of our optimal health but that does not mean I have the right to snap. How many mornings do we drag ourselves to school because we stayed up too late and then get grumpy with our students. The choices we make affect everyone around us, so we must take responsibility for that.
I learned this week that every special moment does not have to be perfect to feel perfect. Christmas is tomorrow for this Dane and I am not sure everyone has a present, what the kids will wear, how we will get cookies for Santa, or even if everything is wrapped. But as my husband said, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we celebrate the time we get to be together and that we focus on our family. Not the presents, not the wrapping, not the extra. Our classrooms don’t need to be perfect for children to grow in them, they need to be filled with love and a focus on each child. Everything else will fall into place.
I learned this week that how I face the world is in my control. Yes, life may have been turned upside down in the last 7 days but it is how I choose to deal with it that matters. While I may feel like crying a lot, no good will come of it beside a temporary relief. What I need right now is to stay positive more than ever before. This is not the end of the world even if it may seem like it, it is the beginning of a new journey that we are fortunate enough to be part of.