As teacher the school year dictates the start of all things new and shiny. This past August, in the days leading up to my return I both dreaded and looked forward things ramping up again. Sure, I love lazing around and pretending I live a SAHW-life, but I not-so-secretly crave structure. Routine gives me boundaries and I my liver and bank account thank me (Hello online, late-night, tipsy shopping!). I also know I work better under pressure and deadlines. At the same time, right about now I desperately miss sleeping in and might throw a fit if I need to label one more thing.
There’s another reason I felt terribly anxious returning to work this year; I’m not proud of it, either. Naturally my career is filled with women. Many women in my school are young and many recently married. This year looms as the year of the baby carriage with three pregnancies due before June. And others are naming it the “Year of the ___ School Baby!” making me feel left out and alone, and it’s crushing me. I considered skipping the first staff meeting to avoid the announcements and glee, but I didn’t. I went and saw the forest for the trees. I came up with a plan for the year and busied myself in my classroom in efforts not to notice.
And I didn’t really notice until that first day back when a woman walked into my classroom, swollen belly, smile on her face and tears welling up in her eyes.
She told me she reads this blog (which, firstly I’m surprised most people who know me read this blog because it’s not required reading by my friends or acquaintances and secondly, she takes time to enjoy my writing), and saw my post that day about International Day of Hope. Here I stood dreading a situation and it was confronting me, and on that specific day when all I wanted was peace. But instead of anticipated pain, we talked openly and she said the kindest things to me. She hugged me. I felt justified and in an instant I felt understood.
I realized that for so long I wrote about my loss and my grief in efforts to reach others. I thought I was doing the world justice by speaking up about a taboo subject. I needed other women to know they were in good company. And all that time, I just needed a someone in particular to recognize my struggle and help me feel less alone. Honestly many people reach out to me and I hear every single one of you, but she sought me out in that scenario it meant more than I can describe. I wish others could be as understanding, including myself.
Look, pregnancy isn’t easy – I get that, from personal experience. It’s no easier carrying around the baggage of loss, feeling like pregnant bellies taunt you and ignore your pain, not wanting to bring up a sore topic. But the people I fear the most don’t want to bring me harm, and one of them even went out of her way to console me.
I’m getting there, I’m getting back to my new normal.
But I know that when it’s finally my turn I will remember these feelings and be ultimately sensitive, as she did for me.