JOY AND WOE ARE WOVEN FINE

February 9, 2015

orangetulips

Early Friday morning, I learned that my son’s class teacher will be stepping down at the end of this year. This is devastating news as she is both a brilliant educator and a remarkable lady. Emet loved her from the moment they first met, a few days before third grade began. She has been a bright light in his journey through his Waldorf education, and while we will miss her deeply, we are comforted by the fact that the person whom the faculty has selected to take the class through middle school is another beloved teacher at our school.

Still, there is sadness. Having to send my tender hearted eleven year old off to class knowing the news he was about to receive from his dear teacher was not an easy way to begin the day, that is for sure.

One of the reasons she, his teacher, gave to us parents as to her departure was that she has found it increasingly difficult to strike a harmonious work/life balance. I couldn’t agree more with her sentiment, it is the very reason why I choose to remain in a supporting role at our school as opposed to a full-time faculty member. I have been a lead teacher, and it is consuming. My heart goes out to her, it really does.

There is a great lesson in this for my son, one that I hope he’ll come to with time. You see, we’ve moved around a lot, having been to five different Waldorf schools. Emet has been “the new kid” nearly every year of his academic career. For the first time in his life, he is the one staying, not the one leaving. This is an opportunity for him to gain a tremendous amount of perspective, but it is not for me to tell him that. He must arrive at his own truth, in his own way, whenever it is that he’s ready to do so. In the meantime, I’ll be here to listen to his worries and to remind him how lucky he’s been to have had these last three years with such a wonderful person as his guide. In a way, it will be his first broken heart, for he truly does love her. Which is exactly how it’s supposed to be in a Waldorf school.

In her email to us parents, our lovely class teacher so wisely reminded us that “the children will look to us adults for cues on how to process this. We want them to understand that change is a part of life, not something catastrophic or unmanageable. When we say goodbye to the past, we welcome the future. All will be well.”

And that’s just it, really. Change is simply another word for evolution, and we should all be so lucky as to evolve. Granted, that doesn’t make it any easier, awareness doesn’t soften the lump that lodged itself in my throat the moment I first read her poignant letter. But it does somehow make the pain seem purposeful, that the tears I’m shedding are really just my heart’s way of making room for what is to come.

When I picked the kids up from school later that day, I brought along with me a simple bouquet of tulips for each of the fine teachers that are currently carrying this class, one of them holding their past, the other their future.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted his new teacher, who happens to be someone with whom I already have a friendly personal relationship outside of our colleagueship. I called her over to my car and handed her the flowers, telling her that I love her and I’m grateful to her for being willing to step in to such an important position. Truly, I do think that there couldn’t be a better person for the job. She is magnificent.

I made my way over Emet on the aftercare yard, after being showered with lots of love from many of my precious first graders who were playing in the sandbox and swing set, where he was immersed in a game of Kendama though the solemnity of the day was apparent. I told him I had something for him to give his beloved teacher, and tears welled up in his eyes. We walked to the car, after gathering ourselves and our things, and then headed to his fifth grade classroom, where we found his sweet teacher tidying up the room.

I’m glad we were able to share a few quiet moments together, honoring her and the carefully considered decision she has made to move on from teaching. And while our hearts are heavy with the burden of her imminent departure, we fondly bid her farewell with gratitude for the many gifts she has given all of us – her students and their parents alike – lessons which will serve us in whatever it is the future may bring. I can only hope that she finds whatever it is that she seeks, for she deserves every happiness her golden heart desires.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy of silken twine.

It is right, it must be so,
Man was made for joy and woe.
And if this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

William Blake

A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES

December 29, 2014

babyjade2008

this photo is old and blurry, but i love it. mostly because it was taken by emet, but also, her eyes. and that runny nose!

I was raised on fairy tales of the Disney variety, never thinking twice that the good people at the House of Mouse weren’t actually the ones responsible for those stories. So, naturally, when I discovered the Brothers Grimm, I was a little miffed that ol’ Walt and his team of animators positively bastardized the complexities of the German folklore.

When Emet was born, one of the sweetest gifts I was given was a complete and unabridged collection of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I suppose the only thing more complete would be an untranslated version, but sprechen sie Deutsch I do not. So, English it was, and oh! The language in those stories is just poetic.

It was a few years later, when I was in training to become a Waldorf teacher, that I learned just how important these particular narratives – and the eloquent language contained therewithin – are to young children. The curriculum of the Early Childhood and the First Grade are based entirely upon classic fairy tales and so it was that I decided my children would not bear witness to the animated movies of my childhood. Also, I’m of the media-free childhood persuasion, so it wasn’t really an issue.

As my children have grown, they have indeed been exposed to their fair share of movies and television shows, albeit far less than the average American child. And yet, purely by coincidence, the Disney movies were left unwatched. A few months ago, we were at a restaurant where each of my big kids were given a coloring page. Emet’s was Sponge Bob, and Jade’s was Belle. And while Mr. Squarepants was instantly recognized by the both of them, neither Emet nor Jade could name the princess or the film from whence she came. I felt a little bit proud and a little bit sad, because truly, I loved those movies. LOVED THEM.

So, when my handsome mister called me into his office a week or so ago to show me a trailer he’d come across of a live-action version of Cinderella due to hit theaters this coming Spring, I rolled my eyes a little because, honestly, how good could it be? Only so good that I cried. Not once, not twice, but three times. Every hair on my body was standing on end, and the flutters in my heart told me I had to share this with my daughter.

I will never forget her eyes as she watched, like saucers they were, filled with stars and fairy dust and all the magic I remember from when I was a little girl. In that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do. Why, read her Ashputtel of course, a tale which she’s heard at least a half dozen times.

When Christmas morning came, there was a small package finished with glittering gold ribbon addressed to the youngest maiden of the house. And when she opened it up, she squealed with delight to find her very own copy of Disney’s Cinderella.

To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw that movie. I’m almost positive I was Jade’s age, or thereabouts. But when she and I sat down later Christmas day to watch it together, from the moment the first note of the overture sounded, I was mesmerized. I remembered all the songs, all the funny little things the mice say, all the magic. Sharing this film with my beautiful girl, at an age when she is more than ready to appreciate it purely as entertainment, well, it was perfect.

She and I have a date to the movie theatre this coming March, and we are so excited we can hardly stand it!

THIRTYONEDERFUL

July 25, 2014

whiteboothlaugh

favorite candid shot from a lunch date with my handsome fiancé a while back

Tomorrow I will celebrate another birthday, and since I always seem to wax nostalgic about these sorts of things, I offer this here assortment of sentiments in honor of my thirtyfirst year.

Oh, 31. You were good to me, but you also kind of kicked my ass. I spent the entirety of these past twelve months not feeling exactly like myself, which is odd. And after all that’s happened, I’m not quite sure what myself is supposed to feel like. Between pregnancy and ongoing postpartum issues, I’ve gotten a little lost in the shuffle of things. But instead of freaking out about this minor identity crisis, I see it as an opportunity to grow, which is how I know I’m not just getting older, but wiser, too. Age is a blessing, thank you very much, and I think I’m starting to get the hang of this whole woman-in-her-thirties thing.

I accomplished a few personal goals that I’d been working toward for what seemed like forever, all three of which were finally ticked off my life’s to-do list on three consecutive days, just like that, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit more like a grown-up. Also, this coming September marks the longest tenure I’ve had as a teacher at any one school, and even though my role has shifted a bit – moving from one subject to another – I’m more comfortable and confident in my career than ever. Working in the Waldorf movement inspires every other part of my life, and I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do.

To be brutally honest, nothing has aged me more in all my years than the delivery of one Roux Huckleberry Baker and the subsequent recovery therefrom. I woke up from emergency anesthesia to a body I didn’t recognize, one I’m still learning to claim as mine. I mean, even my broken foot hasn’t fully healed! In short, thirtyone was not kind to my physical self. But if there is one thing I know about bodies, it’s that you get out of a body what you put into a body, and I’m carrying that tidbit very close to my heart as I move into this next year.

Speaking of my heart, thirtyone was a mighty good year for love. The best year. That mister of mine, he’s full of surprises, which is precisely what made his marriage proposal so special. I had absolutely no idea! Seeing a sparkly ring on my finger every day still takes my breath away, I simply could not be any more over the moon madly in love with the man I’m going to marry. He’s one of a kind, and he’s a damn good father to boot. To all three of my kids, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. So, yeah. Our engagement is clearly the highlight of what was, quite simply, a furious and fabulous year of my life.

Any year that brings me a baby is going to be special, that goes without saying. And this baby, well, he’s all kinds of special. His wellbeing has occupied a significant part of my day to day, almost at the expense of my own, and in taking stock of things, it’s clear to me the ways in which I can afford to expand as a person. And if clarity isn’t a sign of maturity, then I give up!

Seriously though, I’m starting to feel like an adult and I like it. Because let’s be honest here, I couldn’t name one song on the radio if you paid me.

THREE CHEERS FOR JULY

July 1, 2013

Vision-Board-2013

We’re halfway through 2013. What?!

It is crazy to think that it was six months ago that I sat down at my fancy new workstation (thanks, santa!) and spent literally ALL DAY making this vision board. Maybe not all day, but it took much longer than I thought it would because Photoshop is hard?

I’ve kept it as a thumbnail on my desktop since that day, and every so often I open it up, reminding myself of the goals I set out to accomplish when this year began. It is particularly poignant today, in that while I’ve managed to make strides in the right direction, I still have quite a few things left to accomplish. The good news is that it is easily my favorite month of the year, and I’m feeling as focused and creative as ever.

Hip hip hooray!

PS: A wonderful Waldorf teacher, Lisa Profumo, is holding a workshop tomorrow evening in Los Angeles which focuses on the Four Temperaments + Parenting, a topic very near and dear to my heart. More information can be found here.

PPS: Now that Google Reader has retired, you can either follow my blog with Bloglovin or use feedly, which is what I have used for years and highly recommend. And since we’re on the topic, I’d love to know which blogs you’re currently loving. Right now, my favorite is A House in the Hills.