Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back to the Classroom I Go... Slowly...

So, I subbed today. It was my first day back since December 3rd, two days before Andrew was born. I only subbed half of the day and it was for the district I don't often sub for. Though I am technically employed with three different districts, I sub at two most often. One a lot and the other about once every week or two. The district I'm almost exclusively with has not yet been informed that I would like to come back. I'll call them on Monday. Maybe. Probably. So when I got a call last week to work two half days, I decided to go for it.

An aside... a blog (teacher) friend whose blog I've also been reading for sometime mentioned I sub at her district-- small world, huh? And another blog friend lived in a town my husband used to live and about 5 miles from where I grew up! It's sad to know she is also going through her own baby loss story. I hate that this agony is all too common but wonderful connecting with people who I have connections with in some way! :)

I don't know if I'm ready to go back {if I'm being honest}. But, I just can't sit at home either. And it would help to be making some money on the side considering all the trips we keep dreaming up to take and get out of town.

I had to give myself a pep talk. I had a somber moment in the car when I was on my way there. Every morning when I was driving to my assignment (while pregnant), I would talk to baby Andrew. I would say, "I love you little man" and tell him where we were going and what we were doing for the day. It sounds silly, but since I was getting back on the bicycle so to speak, I felt it natural to talk to him. I felt silly after I began, but realized that although he was no longer in my belly or in my presence, I could still talk to him. He's hanging out in heaven, bless his little soul. and little feet. and hands. and cute little eyelashes.

The school I subbed at is one I'd been at a few times before, but not enough times for the staff to really recognize me. That was somewhat nice because they weren't able to comment about my pregnancy or newborn baby. I would have likely recognized some of the students but I was subbing for a learning behavior specialist and was in a somewhat secluded zone of the school. In the very first class, there was a student named Thomas who was such a sweetheart. He said hello to me, shook my hand and asked how I was today. Then he proceeded to ask how my husband was doing. He asked my husband's name. Sweet, right?

Then he asked how my children were doing.

Ah, this is where I either buck up and find a response or break out in tears. He meant well and surely had no idea that a simple, considerate question would elicit such a sad response.

I reacted calmly and said, "Oh, I don't have any children." No tears. Without flinching.

And... my heart broke a little inside. Am I betraying Andrew by saying I have no children? Really, I don't have any living children that I must care for, so therefore I am not a mom. Yes, I birthed a child, but I didn't mother that child. I suppose I grew the child and cared for him in my womb, but I was more caring for myself and just avoiding certain things. Perhaps some people may disagree. It's such a weird, fine line. Is that how I answer it to avoid making others sad? That poor 7th grader who already has behavior/emotional concerns doesn't need me adding to the stress he carries in life.

Many mothers of babies lost struggle with this. Should they acknowledge their child to all those who ask, or is that unnecessary? Perhaps they don't feel it's fair to their deceased child, or they want "credit" for the birth? I don't know what to think about that... but I do know it creates some awkward moments with strangers.

I also had an encounter with an aide. She asked if I was qualified to teach math as a learning behavior specialist because there was an opening for that position. I politely explained that I was not looking for a full time teaching position at this time because we are hoping to become pregnant. But I felt wrong not telling her that I have been subbing for some time now because I anticipated being a stay-at-home-mom by now. I should be a SAHM by now. I shouldn't be talking with her in that classroom. I had to tell her (okay, I didn't have to but felt I deserved to explain my position on why I don't have a teaching position being fully qualified... prideful huh? ugh. I guess so.) that I recently had a child, just one that was born without a heartbeat. And then, like I feel is always necessary, I had to apologize for being the bearer of sad news. What a curse. As though it's not enough to lose your child... but then every time you break the news to innocent bystanders, you must console them. It's a confusing state to be in. We hugged and she left.

I'm not really a hugger but I tell you... I've never hugged more strangers in my life than in these last 6 weeks.

Interesting first day back. I need to get used to these encounters... but I'm not sure that's normal to get used to them. I will be heading back to the district I'm most exclusive with next week and everyone knows me at those schools. I've subbed in every grade level for nearly every teacher. They all know me by name and even the students know me well. I'm sure I'll need some blog therapy when that time rolls around.