Three Little Words

No, not I love you. I am sorry.

Taking responsibility for our actions is not always easy. A lesson that often needs repeating. A reminder from someone else’s example, perhaps.

The week before Christmas break at school is challenging. Emotions flowing between teachers, staff, and students cover the whole spectrum. No matter how many times we experience this phenomenon, it manages to sneak upon us.

Such was my experience with kindergarten this week…

My classroom management skills are good. But this day, the combination of tired, grumpy, and excited (me and the students 😉) took over. Class ended on a frustrating note.

The next day, one of my little friends saw me at lunch.

Mrs. Morris, I made you something. It’s in my classroom. Something to make you happy!

That afternoon, I received five apology notes. ❤️

May we all remember to say those three little words whenever necessary. And may we receive them with grace and understanding whenever offered.

Tug of War

Parading around
In costumes
Recognizable
Masks
Distracting me
From the struggle
Taking root
In my soul
Feelings
Can be sneaky
That way

Tricksters thriving
On energy
Expended in a
Tug of War
That leaves
Me trying
To pull the rope
From both ends
There will never
Be a winner
Only the need
To let go
Of the rope
Even if
It means
Falling
In the mud

I often talk about poetry being therapeutic. This poem is a perfect example. It did not provide answers to the questions on my mind. However, writing the words down provided some tension relief. It also reminded me I don’t have to have all the answers right at this moment. Maybe you can relate. ☺️

Freeze Frame

Pictures holding
History stored
In memory banks
Called to the surface
In a single snap
Of my fingers
Leaving me
Wondering
Why that?
Why now?
Why then?
Times I would
Like either
To forever
Forget or
Always
Remember
Each frame
Projecting
Enough
Power to
Push me into
A time-warp
Of emotions
Unless…
I slow down
Pay attention
Freeze
Each
Frame
Long enough
To grasp
This truth-
The past
Enriches
The present
Either by
Making me
Thankful
For changes
Grateful
For growth
Or content
With constants

For the First Time

We are in our fourth week of school-during a pandemic, attempting to social distance, everyone wearing masks, etc. School, unlike anything we have experienced before.

Today, during my fifth-grade class, I had this sudden urge to see their faces. At the end of music class, I reminded them about the importance of wearing masks. Then I told them I missed seeing their faces, and we would be taking a quick mask break.

I explained that we would take our masks off, then I would count down from five to zero, and we would put them back on.

Those five seconds felt like walking out into the sunshine. Smiles everywhere! Then I heard a student shout, “Mrs. Morris!” As if he had just recognized me!

As we put our masks back on, I started to tear up. “You look like you’re about to cry,” another student said. “I am,” I admitted. “And now my glasses are fogging up! How am I supposed to read you guys a book?”

We all laughed. I choked back my tears and made it through a few pages before it was time to go.

Wow! Four weeks in and today, it feels like we saw each other for the first time. I had forgotten the power of a smile. And multiplied by twenty, well, there is nothing quite like it.

This one, spur-of-the-minute decision changed the trajectory of my whole day. Yes, the masks were still there. But for a few seconds in each class, I saw sweet faces. And those sweet faces have no idea how much they helped this struggling teacher. ❤

Kids Grow Up

I wrote this poem several months ago after a conversation with my oldest. This seems like the perfect time for sharing.

Parenting is a lifelong adventure. And though responsibilities change as time passes, some things never change. Like that struggle between worry and release.

The temptation to hold on too tight is strong. And even after successfully letting go, certain events bring me right back into the battle.

Currently, it is a concern for their safety as public school teachers and a working college student during this pandemic. They are all adults. They know how to take care of themselves. But I will always be their mom. ❤

No Longer a Kid

How are you today?
A simple text
Sent to my child
Nothing urgent
Or momentous
Mom checking in

My eyes well up
With tears before
The swoosh sound
Of the sending text
Has even faded
What? Why now?

A flood of memories
Instantly fills my mind
A million questions
Where did the years go?
Did I do enough to
Prepare you for life?

The phone rings
Jolting me back
To the present
Tears turn to smiles
Questions fade away
The world is okay

Hey Mom, thought
I’d call and talk
Instead of just texting

And so it goes when
You are the parent
Of adult children
A simple thought
Becomes a rapid
Onslaught of emotions

A myriad of questions
And concerns
Instantly erased by
The sound of a voice-
My kid who is
No longer a kid

Challenging Times

Planning like
Never before
Worried about safety
Worried about health
For our students
And ourselves
So much at stake
Far beyond academics
Far beyond testing
The emotional health
Of our children
Of our families
Of all of us
So many needs
To be met
Too many needs
To be met
By only a few
But we are not a few
We are many
We are educators
Waiting patiently
For difficult answers
To impossible questions
And no matter what
Others may say
We will shine-Our
Students will shine
With kindness, passion
And innovation as we
Face our fears during
These challenging times

No Reason

I notice you smiling
And ask why
Oh, no reason, you reply
Your answer doesn’t satisfy
But asking again
Might seem a little pushy
So, I simply keep watching

I see your smile fade
And ask why
Oh, no reason, you reply
Your answer doesn’t satisfy
This time I push
Ever so gently
And ask once again

Are you ok
I smile and say
Waiting until you
Share the reason
Behind the expression
Only then do I see
Your smile return

Then, I continue
Watching you smile
So as not to miss
Another moment
When you answer
No reason-but mean
Exactly the opposite

From Me to You by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Question?

Question of the week-
Which is harder
Only seeing faces
On a screen
Or seeing faces
In-person, yet
From a distance?

The computer screen
Filled with little faces
Smiling, waving, singing
An adventure
Controlled chaos
No group hugs
Yet, welcome connection

The short visits
In-person, tho
Physically distant
No pats on the shoulder
Yet, beautiful smiles
Kindly delivering
Much-needed messages

Both experiences
Bring a rush
Of emotions
Tears, happy and sad
Despite attempts to
Swallow the lumps
In my throat

Maybe it’s not
A question of difficulty
Instead, a reminder
Both complex
And beautiful
Of how desperately
We need each other
Up On the Roof by Carole King/Gerry Goffin
"And if this world starts getting you down
There’s room enough for two…"

One Simple Conversation

I recently ran into our youngest son’s fourth-grade teacher. I walked over to say hi and gave her a big hug. Immediately, I was overcome with emotion. Tears began to flow.

Talk about embarrassing. I could barely carry on a conversation. Somehow I squeaked out, “I want you to know how much I appreciated you as a fourth-grade teacher.”

She was gracious. And of course, asked about Ryan and what he was doing. I was happy to report on his success. 🙂

This was the teacher who offered such reassurance. Yes, he fidgets. Yes, sometimes it appears he isn’t paying attention. He’s a boy. But he doesn’t miss a thing.

Here we are nine years later. Ryan is nineteen and a freshman in college. He is studying 3D art and animation and is excited about internship possibilities. He has goals for the future but lives in the moment.

Seeing his former teacher reminded me of the power of encouraging words. Positive words from a teacher to a parent. Words from one simple conversation, over nine years ago.

Word of the Year

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed many stories of friends choosing a word for the upcoming year. This is not something I have done before. I do like the idea of creating a point of focus. One word that would represent a challenge-something to work on or maybe a word of encouragement.

Each time I read about someone choosing their word, one word would come to mind. It was always the same word. But I avoided actually voicing that this would be my word. 

Instead, I named all of the reasons that this should not be my word. It is not a word I use to describe myself. Though not logical, I let my mind negatively wander.  

Simply thinking about the word would make me feel like crying. What if choosing this particular word meant the coming year would bring difficult challenges? Yes, I realize that is silly. Just being honest.

This morning I gave in, deciding this would indeed be my word for the year. Strong.

I would much prefer content, joyful or peaceful. Probably because I consider myself sentimental and emotional. And that may be the exact reason why I need to choose this word.   

My husband reminds me that I am strong. And I know it is ok to think of myself as strong. We all face challenges in this life. It is good to remember how I have faced challenges in the past. But most importantly, it is good to remember where my strength truly comes from.

“Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

So, here is my word for the year 2020. STRONG! I embrace it and hope that by focusing on it, I will begin to see myself as the strong woman that I am.