This is not a new saying to me. I use it often, for a multitude of reasons. But mainly because it is true in a way that almost seems juvenile, yet in another sense it is also quite complicated. It hits home most to me when mothering another concept. The belief that once you do know better, you must do better. It seems fair. A concrete way of holding those who benefit from the first belief, accountable, so that idea doesn’t suddenly become a crutch, a cleared lot on which to build the future.
Recently this saying has been weaving itself in and out of my life, both personally and professionally. It has been that gleam of light that has allowed me to feel compassion, but also the light that lead the way out of darkness. Without being totally cryptic here, I am going to elaborate. I am going to share some things that I have been handling over the last several weeks. The feelings have been rich and raw, in a way I had never imagined. Today, day 22 of grieving the loss of my job, a loss of my own choosing, has been the first day that I have felt enough gusto to get moving and be productive.
I was majorly invested in the school as a parent from the beginning; volunteering in my kid’s classrooms, organizing fundraisers and chaperoning field trips. What started as a joke, suggesting I should get paid to be here since I was there so often, turned into my first full-time job outside of the home in over a decade. It felt like a family. Walking in the building you instantly felt the warm, loving energy of everyone who was working there; united to bring the very best to each and every student.
My first position, working as a Para-professional in Kindergarten was mostly magical. I gained some lifelong friends in the teachers and had so many wonderful kiddos teach me all year-long. At about this time last year, a new position opened up at the school. I never checked the school’s webpage for posted openings, but heard about the position in a very round about way, and decided to apply. The opportunity to use my skill sets on a broader spectrum and to bring about positive change, learning from someone I already respected, was a win-win in my eyes. I was confident about what I could bring to the table and how there would be things I didn’t know, but reassured those in charge that I was a quick learner. At the end of the day, I really knew in my heart that this was going to be where I ended up. And it was.
Many hours were spent over the summer training for the new position. Additional hours were spent bringing some of those skills to the walls of the cafeteria through murals and art work painting by myself and my family. We were invested. All the words we spoke about the school and those who walked the halls were positive, words of admiration and pride to be a part of this tribe. School began and the daily challenges came and went. Lessons were learned. The job was challenging but I was growing to appreciate and honor the difficulties with each passing day.
I loved my job. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. It was, at times, both heartbreaking and humorous. It was unpredictable and unprecedented. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth every minute. It was invaluable because the job, in my eyes, was all about doing the best you can, with what you have, within the situation you were presented. Each day brought on something new, so it became beyond important to learn. There were so many things I did not know when I started: the children themselves, all of the ways in which teachers or parents might respond to issues, or what each day would unveil. But, I knew that once I learned, I would do better from that point forward. And I believe with my whole heart, that I did just that. I showed up. Everyday. And did the best I could.
I began to do better, as I now knew what I once didn’t know, navigate the ins and outs of my position. I believe in humility but I also believe in honesty. I believe I was good at my job, that my services were needed, that my methods were being well recieved, that I was building relationships and bringing about positive change. At least as much change as I was able to make before being met with a stop sign to the face.
Giving my registation was not an easy decision. Pulling my children out of a school, mid-year none the less, a school we had once said felt like home, was heart wrenching. The parting of ways wasn’t based on one moment, not on one incident, but on a multitude of things that changed over the course of the last several months. When I try to understand what happened in a very logical way, I can’t help but picture the game of Jenga. These blocks were built, it was a steady standing structure and then pieces were pulled out, left and right, rocking the foundation. I started to envison my values wrapped around the pieces that were being extracted, things that no longer aligned with who I said I was and what I represented. Once I saw my children’s names falling from the tower, it was no longer hard to make the choice, but it would be complicated.
So, I left. I was direct about my reasons in my letter of resignation. I was told that my services were no longer needed, to pack up and not return to fufill the two weeks notice I had provided.
For weeks, I have felt torn up inside. Guilty for leaving, ashamed for giving up on the students, sad that I was not able to say goodbye. It wasn’t until this weekend, while attending a women’s retreat, that I was finally able to have some closure. We discussed the subject of values and how important it was to have one or two core values to be your guiding light. I was surprised to discover how challeneging it was to narrow my list. I found myself making all kinds of webs and charts to show how certain values like family, gratitude, giving back, creativity, authenticity, integrity, and justice were all intertwined and under the umbrella of the two I committed to. It initially came as a bit of a surprise to me what final two were left standing; Kindness and Learning.
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. You don’t know what you don’t know. But once you learn it, you must do better. All roads for me lead back to kindness and learning. They are the corner stones of my life, my family, my work, my heart. When they are out of alingment, so is my soul. With this discovery my guilt and sadness subsided a bit. I felt even more secure and validated in my decisison making.
The environment was lacking kindness and learning, on many different levels, and went against every bone in my body. So, while this process has been more painful than I could have ever imagined a year ago when I prayed for that job, it has been a lesson. It has forced me to learn to be kind to myself and to trust my gut, knowing my intitiuon may lead me to hardship but it will not lead me astray.
I’m grateful for all of the wonderful souls who have crossed my path through this journey. I am sending love and light daily to children who I know first hand need it as much, if not more, than they need food and shelter. At the end of the day all of this sudden change has provided our family with many lessons, it has forced me to come back to my values. It has reinforced what I do want, what is important in the next venture. A learned experience. A reminder that if you can be anything, be kind.
Love and Light,