onbruisedknees

"Tell your story. Tell it on your bruised knees if you must, tell it at the risk of madness, scream it at the top of your lungs." –Andrew Lam

Month: December, 2011

The Weekend Wife

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credit: (via pinterest) from the notebook

Love is patient. I thought I knew the meaning of this verse in 1 Corinthians 13, especially since I’ve had the whole chapter memorized since junior high Bible Bowl and even recited the chapter at my cousin’s wedding. I thought I knew what the verse meant because when I was in high school, Josh was in college world. I waited desperately on my porch for Thursday after his night class just to get a long kiss that simultaneously meant hello and goodnight. I waited for others to accept our love in spite of our age difference. When I attended college in Indiana and he worked in Illinois, I yearned for the weekends and the rush of seeing him which was more powerful than the booze and blare of seedy fraternity houses. I waited for the day when I wouldn’t have to live in a dormitory or apartment with roommates. Josh and I lived for two years in different states so I could work after college. I lived eight years of love is patient, which is what happens when you realize the man you want to marry at fifteen but live in the twenty-first century instead of the 1940s.  Television, movies, books, and my own romantic daydreams gave a much different image of newlywed life, but still I clung to “love is patient” and hoped he wouldn’t work mandatory overtime and Saturdays and Sundays and second and third shifts our whole lives. Now he’s in the Illinois State Police Academy. He’s training for a career in which he could get shot. I write him pathetic, dramatic, transcendent love letters that don’t get to him until weeks after they are mailed. I feel like I am living in the forties and he’s away at war.      

I am told to enjoy my “me” time. My married and married-with-children friends tell me I’m so lucky to have the privacy to take a shower or pee without a screaming toddler walking in on me and demanding my attention. I can follow my own whims and make my own schedule. I can go shopping after work and no one can tell me not to. I can do laundry whenever the hell I feel like it or until I run out of underwear. I can watch Sex and the City marathons. I don’t have to worry about making my husband supper each night. My supper doesn’t have to include meat. Supper can consist of cereal. Or wine. The life of a Weekend Wife includes so many perks. I get to be selfish. But I’d rather just take your screaming baby beautifully sculpted from half wife and half husband, hold it to my chest and rub my cheek across its soft head, breathe in the baby shampoo, and find my own comfort in any creature that needs me.   
I have so much time. I have time to think and worry—dangerous pastimes. I have time to sleep, so I go to bed at six in the evening because I’m exhausted from staring at the blank wall and the spot on the carpet. I’m exhausted from listening to the seven mouse traps snapping shut like gunshots and listening to my mother’s voice inside of my head. And I’m too aware of the rifle, loaded for my protection against intruders, in the drawer beside my bed. My voice of reason isn’t here, my perspective isn’t here. Who will protect me from myself? I am not alive and too alive. I am paralyzed and spinning. I want to hibernate. I want to sink down into a cocoon. But this is my life, and humans aren’t allowed to hibernate. And at the first eye-flutter of morning when I realize he is not in bed with me, dread washes over my body. I’m covered in sweat but also so cold—every part of me.  All of the strength bleeds out of my body. The body knows—how else can one explain the occurrence of an elderly woman dying within minutes of her husband? The body knows instantly. I mourn him in the mornings because I know the comfort weekend mornings bring. I know the tightness of arms wrapping me to him. I know the tenderness of nose and eyelid kisses, the satisfied heap of entangled magic and urgency and heartbeats and skin and covers and the way he covers all the cold inside me with simple, extraordinary love. But the body is not designed to soar and then plunge to extreme temperatures. So I am sick and stuck on this drug that feeds my scarred and purpled veins.
After my daily morning panic attack, I commute to the school I love and have to leave. I humbly realize my job will move on without me, but I might not move on without it—my other drug that numbs the pain and disgrace I feel from existing as a Weekend Wife. They won’t be closing down their doors because the young unconventional teacher is moving and collapsing and is not sure she can bear or dare to teach anywhere else. It doesn’t matter who plants the seeds (I did) or who does the watering (I should). Love means patiently waiting for God to make the seeds grow. Is there a world growing outside of the classroom where I owned my own awkwardness and preached uniqueness and love?
Josh’s district placement when he graduates the academy is an excellent and convenient excuse to throw up my hands and quit. There are just no jobs available. I cannot find one single lead in the education field. It is time to work somewhere that won’t pull my heart apart, someplace where my feelings aren’t so damn contradictory. I could work in a bookstore or café. I could write for a magazine. I could work in an office on in retail. I could answer a fucking phone all day or bag soup and beans and bananas. I need a job that allows me to be an Everyday Wife. I need something not so tangled up in heartbreaking human beings. I thought I thought about the students more than they thought about me. But my heart turns violently inside of my chest when they do think and say thank you in the form of Christmas ornaments and a homemade blanket, homemade music and bread and crafts and Starbucks gift cards, coffee mugs and hugs and chocolate, and most of all when the thank you comes in the form of letters and cards and comments and words. Words. Words show me in my own love language that they use what I taught them. I can’t just rip off the Band-Aid. The cuts have all healed, but still I pick and peel in slow motion all of these brightly colored bandages from legs and elbows that look like they belong to a kid learning how to ride a bicycle. I learned how to ride the bike of education and took off the training wheels too fast. My skin swallowed chunks of gravel from the crashes, precious pebbles now a part of me wherever I go. But just because coasting with the sun on my face and arms outstretched was worth pedaling the hill doesn’t mean I want to stay on the bike.     
Weekends wives know weekends can’t be forty-eight hour (or thirty-nine hour) sultry love fests, though we do find any way to attach ourselves to one another through hugs in the kitchen and holding hands in the car and in the tub and through church and through dinner and sometimes through the night. Still, Josh and I have to pay bills. We have to do chores and run errands and make lists. We have to go to the bank. We have to wash and iron uniforms. We have to see family. We have to see friends. We do not get to be selfish. Weekend Wives also know that life happens through the week when the husband can’t be there to fix it such as my car stalling on an interstate bridge, hitting a deer, blowing a tire, being seriously ill and making it to the doctor, filling out paperwork I don’t know how to fill out, making phone calls, asking questions, pretending to know answers, embarrassedly asking favors, talking to people, fearing. I have to have concepts and policies and protocols repeated several times. I am not allowed to call him unless the emergency is a death in the family.  This policy is what deprives the Weekend Wife of her dignity when she patiently loves him daily with words and thoughts and prayers and body and passionate heart. Love is patient, but love still needs. And I need time. And I need him to fix the lost time. And I need to work on love, selfishly taking all of the time with him I need, until I feel so much more whole than just a Weekend Wife.    

Listen

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                   A doctor once told me I should not be a teacher. My condition would hinder me tremendously. I won’t always be able to hear my students. I could have a vertigo attack in the middle of the lesson. I might go completely deaf. I might fall over. The sheer stress of all the simple teaching tasks would leave no room to make the deep connections I long to make. I want to show this doctor Elle, my student who is also hearing impaired, who writes me a post-it note of encouragement every afternoon at 2:45 and who will someday save lives as a missionary doctor.  I want to show him Megan, a student on my speech team who wrote a speech about her struggle with Bell ’s palsy. I want to show him the ceramic plaque she made for me with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I want to march a parade of students into his facility, a parade of students who could technically always speak but now have a voice with confidence behind it. I want to show him my Zac and the scars where his tumors once were. I want to let him see Josie, my student with one arm who volunteers to pass out papers and jumps to help when a classmate drops the basket of markers.  I want to show him the cartoons and essays and art and perfect grade point average of Sam, my student fighting and beating cancer.

                  Secondary teachers are brave enough or stupid enough to relive their middle school or high school experiences every day. After four years in the profession, I’ve observed that kids are still mean. Labels still exist. Senior boys still break freshmen girls’ hearts and girls still put other girls through hell. Different is still unacceptable. Caring too much is still uncool. And having an illness that no one understands is still isolating, frustrating, and awkward. “Be kind,” I stress, “Everyone you meet is facing some sort of battle.” I was around their age when I woke up and the numbers on my digital clock were blurry. My dad documented in careful print: “November 1, 2000 Initial Symptoms: ringing in ears, dizziness, vomiting, no fever.” But I mostly remember the clock and how the numbers made me confused and nauseous.  I remember leaning over my bed to throw up .The slightest movement of my head caused me to vomit. I remember the night before I was attempting algebra homework at the kitchen table and was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what “x” equaled. I still hate math but ever since then, I wish the value of x was still my biggest frustration, my most prevalent question; I wish merely math kept me up at night.
                “November 2, 2000 Observances: Slept most of day. Continued dizziness and vomiting. Couldn’t hear beep of battery operated thermometer.” When you stay home from school, you are supposed to watch trashy television all day, read teen magazines, and eat soup. I didn’t watch television. I didn’t read because the words were scrambled on the page. I certainly did not eat anything. I vaguely remember not hearing the beeping thermometer. I mostly remember sensing my parents were scared.
                On November 3, 2000 an appointment was made to see my pediatrician. I tried to get up to walk to the car. My body did not move the way I wanted it to move and everything else around me moved when I didn’t want it to. I was carried into the clinic and placed on an examination table. I remember the pediatrician’s icy hands and gentle voice, a picture of Big Bird floating in a hot air balloon on the ceiling, a table with Bible picture books, and a poster with laughing cartoon people and a caption that read, “God can’t do what?”
                Dr. Benson, a kind old man I wished was my grandpa, could not diagnose me but ordered several tests and admitted me into the hospital. The nurses did not have soothing voices and were not skilled at sticking the IV into my tiny rolling veins. After several tests, they said I had mononucleosis. Later, my parents were told the mono spot test was a false positive. Perhaps I had viral labyrinthitis instead; perhaps I did not. My parents slept in plastic chairs. The town was infested with white squirrels. Nothing was good there, not even the lime Jell-O.
                Nine days later, I went back to eighth grade. My mom thought it was too soon, but I begged her to let me go half a day. I wanted to know what we were reading in language arts. I didn’t want to get even more behind in algebra. I didn’t want the popular table to give my seat to someone else at lunch. It had taken time and effort to worm my way into their world of boy-girl parties, highlighted hair, and Hollister clothes, and I knew they could shut me out of that exciting new world in an instant. I was still weak and pale, and my size zero pants hung off of my body without a belt. I couldn’t hear the bells that signaled the end of each period. I just got up from my desk when I saw everyone else start to walk towards the door. I made my best friend walk beside me to prevent me from running into walls. I felt unsteady on my feet, like I was a toddler or an idiot who rode the scrambler ride at the fair six times in a row or how I imagined a drunk must feel.
                November 17, 2000, according to the log, was the day I took a hearing test at Barnes Hospital in Saint Louis. I was put in a large box that resembled a spaceship. The test did not merely consist of raising my hand when I heard a high beep or low tone but of pushing a button and repeating words back into a microphone. I showed no speech discrimination in my left ear and tested badly in my right ear as well. I was a bright girl and became frustrated when I could not tell the difference between side-walk and truck-stop, doll-house, and bird-bath. I randomly repeated “ball, ba-lloon, and bath-tub” when I had no idea what words the recorded voice spoke.  It didn’t hurt to guess. I hated failing a test, no matter what type of test.
                My mom told me countless times to pray. My mom, dad, and sister asked God to fix me every night at the dinner table as we held hands around the table. “You’ve been praying, haven’t you?” “Don’t give up” was her favorite phrase. “God can do anything. Just keep praying,” Dad reassured. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I’d forgotten how. I hated my life and I hated God and wasn’t sure He even existed because once doubts start, they don’t stop. I did not feel “fearfully and wonderfully made.” No way was I taking part in the Elders praying over me with their hands on my head, ears, and shoulders with other arms reaching out to me. I had visions of speaking in tongues and foot washing and bread breaking and communion drinking, and I cringed. “Ha! God can’t do what?” Well He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, make me well. He couldn’t even allow the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me.
                We received the results of the MRI. The log states: “There was no evidence of acoustic neuroma. The ventricular system is unremarkable and there is no evidence of mass lesion, mass effect, or abnormal enhancement.” So I didn’t have cancer, a tumor, or a neurological disorder according to my scans, but my hearing still fluctuated and I still staggered when I walked. Although the results were normal, my mom was noticeably nervous and emotional before that first MRI. She wanted to go into the room with me. The test was administered with gadolinium (blue dye used for contrast), and the nurses injected the dye into my arm through an IV. My blood vessels constricted, blue dye seeped into my tissue, my skin bubbled up, blood and dye rushed back into the IV tube, and my mother dropped my hand she was holding and fainted right there in the room. Still confined in the machine, I heard the doctors trying to revive her. When my mom was conscious, the tests were over, and I was finally free, I wheeled her out of the hospital room. During the months after the occurrence, I bet we told that story fifteen times to friends and relatives. It got funnier each time we told it: “I wheeled her in; she wheeled me out.”
                The next place I wheeled into was Shea Clinic in Memphis Tennessee. After Dr. Ehlrich referred me to Dr. Neely, the head of otology at the Washington School of Medicine, we decided to get a second opinion. Dr. Neely, with his unruly gray eyebrows and cocky attitude, called my condition “probably permanent.” What exactly my condition was, however, he never could say. On some visits, he told us the condition was auto immune inner ear disease, other days he decided to go with Meniere’s disease. He used unnecessarily large words. He was supposed to be the third best ENT in the nation, but I just sat trying to answer his confusing questions and feeling sorry for my parents who vigorously scribbled misspelled medical terms and waited patiently with their carefully recorded questions and my log of symptoms. Back and forth to St. Louis meant a six hour car ride for us. Dr. Neely always seemed to be in a hurry. Then he was gone, leaving his nice nurses to schedule an appointment in another two weeks so I could miss school again, read People Magazine in the waiting room, and go home with no answers.
                Dr. John J. Shea III did several interesting tests on me in Memphis. He inflated a tiny water balloon inside my ear. He spun me upside down. He put me in a dark room and made my eyes follow the lights. Still, our second opinion didn’t produce any valuable results. He put me on a low salt diet and told me to avoid all forms of caffeine. “You’re on a diet?” I remember my lunch table asking, “Why? You already look anorexic.” I was diagnosed with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Dr. Shea said I was a candidate for Dexamathasone profusion (a procedure which involved shooting steroids into my eardrums) but at the time, the procedure was very risky and very expensive.  “Idiopathic hearing loss,” I kept repeating to myself. As far as I remember, I liked this doctor better than Unruly Gray Eyebrows, but he couldn’t give me a real answer, so in my fourteen-year-old opinion, “idiopathic” meant he was just another idiot.
                On April 21, 2004 my hearing went down completely. I went to bed one night excited for the busy week ahead. I was ready to enjoy the annual choir trip, attend my junior prom, and score highly on my ACT test. When I woke up the next morning, I was deaf. My ears were buzzing, ringing, and roaring. I felt schizophrenic, and I panicked. I didn’t know sign language.  I stared at the ceiling for a few hours then slept the rest of the day because I wasn’t sure what else to do. My parents called Dr. Neely who prescribed oral steroids. I gained weight. My moods shifted. I was depressed. The steroids did, however, somewhat ease the ringing and brought back most of the hearing in my good ear. I went to prom, but reading lips and straining to hear what people were saying was exhausting. I couldn’t hear other people talking and therefore did not feel like talking to people. I also didn’t feel like dancing. With all of the extra noise in my head, I didn’t do so well on the ACT test a few days later. I had other questions on my mind. I wanted answers and not the kind that could be found on a scantron sheet.
                I remain deaf in my left ear. The hearing in my right ear comes and goes, and when it goes or I have a vertigo attack, I feel like a scared teenager who just wants life to get back to normal. I want a life that is more predictable and a body that is less of a nuisance. The tinnitus is constant and worse on days that I am stressed out, I don’t eat right, or I don’t get enough sleep. I find it fitting that Vincent Van Gogh and Emily Dickinson were thought to have had Meniere’s disease (the condition I most likely have). While I have never seriously considered cutting off my own ear, on bad days I feel like becoming a recluse and writing obscure poetry instead of facing the world.

                I’m more observant now. Other senses do compensate when another is damaged. God must have wired the human body that way. I also know God heals—the heart—if not always the body. I’ve learned there is much more to listening than merely hearing.  I can hear the sound of hope rising. I can hear the sound of a heart knitting itself back together again. I can taste tears before they splash. I can see a soul’s dance. I can feel a Godwink. I can understand a shaken, upside-down world where image and others’ opinions seem to matter so much. Through these students, I relive the hurt and the wisdom that comes from the hurt. I simply remember what matters and what does not. The Holy Spirit draws me to them, pulls and attracts me like a magnet to those students who are fighting a battle, who remind me of myself. God gives and takes away—but sometimes, through the taking, He gives.  
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Worth It

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I lost myself in teaching just as I lost myself in the miles of Highway 64 and Highway 41. At one point I could not differentiate between Illinois and Indiana, between sanity and insanity. I’d pull into my driveway and stop, confused. What am I if not in constant motion? Who am I if not Mrs. Kiefer, teacher? What good am I doing if I’m not in a classroom from seven until at least seven? Why do I have conversations with myself before I fall asleep?  I’m a woman with fire in my veins. I’m cursed with too much adrenaline, too much momentum. I have tunnel vision, both on the road and in the classroom. When I slam on the brakes, no seatbelt can restrain my heart from catapulting and crashing into the next group of students, the next project, the next novel, the next speech meet, the next batch of essays, the next pile of journals waiting to be read. I continue to gulp that Memorial Kool-Aid so fast that it dribbles down my chin. I am punch-drunk and reckless.  I don’t know how to keep my heart still. I don’t know how not to be passionate. The price is significant. The body exhausts itself. The mind spirals dangerously. I am highly sensitive, nervous and restless, a hater of conflict, an introvert with social anxiety who must sometimes deal with conflict and must always deal with people. I care too much. I chose a profession that requires a much thicker shell than my translucent baby skin. Was it worth the wear on the body and the heart and the nerves?  Was it worth the money in fuel, three destroyed tires and a dent from a deer?    
Was it worth the fights with my husband? He has either worked third shift or been in the Illinois State Police Academy since we have been married. But work is always with me even when he is not. Work has always needed me. Work has always given me something to do and an excuse not to come home to an empty house. Work was my lover, my idol, my excitement, my comfort, my addictive cycle of love and hate. I got to be a teacher five days a week. I only got the chance to be a weekend wife. I gave work my attention and expected it to love me back. And it hurt so good. But the accusations from my husband that I’m always grading and don’t get paid enough for it just hurt.
“Why can’t you leave work at work? Why did you have to go to your expensive private college which put us in a great deal of debt if all you got at the end of hard work was a teaching degree that does not pay the bills? Why can’t you work at a place with a better retirement?” Sometimes the twisted encouragement felt like ultimatums: “Wouldn’t you get the same joy out of teaching at a public school? Don’t you think you can make an even bigger difference in average or struggling kids’ lives? An education is an education.”  So I’d scream, “of course you have that opinion. If the only high school you’ve ever been inside is Edwards County High School, then you have no damn idea what else is in this world.”  And so my obsession with private schools and my belief that they are better therefore makes me conceited and selfish and high maintenance.  Was it worth fearing that after a decade together, he doesn’t understand me? Was it worth defending my Memorial?
Would I choose it again if I knew I would spend the first three years under an unappreciative principal who wickedly played the education game, who shrugged off my soul-teaching, who merely checked boxes on a form and picked at desk arrangements and my messy binder of lesson plans and missed the lesson in my lesson? Was it worth the handful of rich and powerful parents with their egos and emails who raise dishonest, manipulative children with that same expectation of entitlement? 
Was it worth the Class X Felony I should have filed? Was it worth feeling helpless and violated? Was it worth having no voice, being abruptly hushed so that no bad press could possibly leak out and taint our spotless Memorial. For at M-E-M-O-R-I-A-L, the students wore oxfords and ties and had “the look” and attended silent masses and went back to classes where they sometimes cheated and gave scripted answers and offered scripted foreign prayers. Was it worth facing my classes of students who’d seen everything under my skirt thanks to a boy who snapped the infamous shot and sent picture messages to his buddies who knew more buddies while I obliviously (with my tunnel vision) helped a group of students understand T. S Elliott and passionately explained why they, too, should dare disturb the universe.
They disturbed my universe. Shook me. Took a big chunk out of me and scraped the core of me.  But so did the good ones, the ones who wrote me notes I tacked on my “I Will Not Quit” board, the faces that flood my memory with light.  They are the students who have long forgotten me, who don’t need me anymore which is painful proof that I did something right. They are the chosen ones who humbled me and taught me more than I taught them. Jeanine, Mitch, Morgan, Nick, Ben, Lelia, Laura, Ryan, Rachel, Danielle, Hadley, Eric, Kevin, MJ, Megan, Aaron, Sam, Elle, Bailey, Nicci, Brenna, Cynthia, Marcus, William, Joshua, Emily– my spring sunshine air-dried laundry list of students who understood that dreaming and creating and becoming were more important than grades. They shook me and they steadied me. They hauntingly reached back in time and healed my high school girl self and proved that I was not the only one who felt the way I felt at sixteen. Their words of affirmation filled up all of the cracks in my heart. And helping them embrace the ways they are different healed so many of my ancient wounds.
I defended my Memorial when it treated me well. I defended it when it treated me poorly and unfairly. Why?  Because I pulled up to the beautiful edifice every morning in my dented car with its empty fuel tank and felt lucky. Because I stepped into those pep assemblies and saw pride on the students’ faces. And I was a part of that spirit, that unity.  Working there for four years was worth moving to three different classrooms.  Two of those rooms had no windows and no temperature control and one had a crumbling ceiling every time it rained.  They became three classrooms I made into worlds, homes, and sanctuaries for learning, for magic, for after school chats on the floor. They were imperfect, a reflection of me. My worlds were colorful, beautiful, joyful, messy, gritty, holy, wholly mine.
I love my husband and am thankful he gets the chance to do what makes him feel alive. He asked me. He said he wouldn’t pursue this job that would take us away if I didn’t want him to. But my whole purpose is to inspire journeys, expand and encourage dreams. I will go where he goes. His people will be my people. I will move and I will grow, but oh, the growing pains! I fear I will hate the person who replaces me, and I know my attitude is jealous and immature. I never asked another teacher to come into my world.  Though I look younger than most of my students, I am the fierce and crazy biological mama of hundreds of kids about to get a new mother or father who might not understand them or love them as well as I do, who might win their affection by allowing them to slack or remain safe in their desks of candy comfort and ordinary. What if she is a worksheet-giver? I cannot leave them with a worksheet-giver. I cannot leave them in the hands of someone who won’t feel the material and make it her art. I can’t leave them with someone whose job is an afterthought of her other life. How dare she allow herself to even have a life?  
What if she doesn’t keep up with our prayer journals and proof of God’s faithfulness? What if she throws out the spiral notebook with their requests of comfort for sick grandpas and fighting parents and loved ones with cancer—precious pages of prayers for broken legs and broken hearts and birthday blessings and praises for roses and healing from thorns. What if she thinks daily inspiration is stupid? What if she only scratches the surface of Lord of the Flies and Antigone and Fahrenheit? What if a story is just a story and not the opportunity to embrace life or change?
What if she’s more organized and enjoys primly checking off standards? What if she looks good and wears heels like I used to before I realized I’d rather play vocabulary games that required racing across the room and spin cartwheels to demonstrate action verbs?  What if she easily and instantly fits in when it took me four years to push my way into this league made up of both pitiful and extraordinary educators? Or what if she is simply a better teacher with more experience who is strong in all of the places I am weak, someone who reaches more or different students, or someone who is smarter. I’ll hate her if she’s smarter.
                She’ll probably be Catholic. She’ll probably call the bread “the Host” instead of communion like she’s supposed to. She’ll probably agree with penance and confession. She’ll know the Lord’s Prayer ends with “deliver us from evil” instead of “for thine is the kingdom…” She’ll know that offering each other the sign of peace does not mean flashing the peace sign/ throwing up deuces. She’ll probably know not to have homeroom parties during Lent, know never to lift her hands in worship during mass because she’ll look like a fool, and never, ever use the Advent candles as pretend swords when acting out the stabbing scene of “Julius Caesar.”

This year, perhaps because they knew I was leaving or perhaps because my teacher-friend put the idea in their heads, they remembered my birthday. They made me feel so honored, so celebrated. Complete with princess crown and birthday sash, I was queen of the school—me, the girl who couldn’t even get on the homecoming court of her own high school. I opened my classroom door to find hundreds of handwritten messages, dozens of balloons, streamers, and gifts piled high on my desk. I was living the Norman Rockwell painting, “Happy Birthday, Miss Jones,” except in his painting the poised teacher smiles with gratitude whereas this Mama K squealed with delight and then immediately cried delicious tears. Yes, it was worth it. Yes, I would choose it again. I would make my same mistakes. I would lose myself again because they helped me find myself. I would lift my hands in joy and praise and thanksgiving. Why? Because they created me, and a small part of their lives are forever holy, wholly mine.    
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