Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poem A Day

Flashes of my Day


phone calls,

knocks on the door,

7 minutes of uninterrupted time,



adults who roll their eyes

at students who are not

in a perfect line,

sighs from me,


sighs from my students,



students teaching others,

interruption-developmental films,


SHHHHHHH from the nurse,



with a student,



the realization that

despite the day,

I wouldn't trade it

for the world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slice of Life~Conferring With Writers~

Today as I conferred with my writer's I found myself asking more and more "What would you like for me to specifically look for?" because IT has happened. My students have become more and more independent in their writing and no longer need to me to tell them what to "fix." They instinctively know. Today as I enjoyed my little conferring corner, I listened to the words of my students. All the memoirs are different, but one thing was constant~their words had meaning. After school I reflected in the Writing Professional Community, I began to mourn the fact that now my room of confident, independent writers will continue their journey with another teacher. Isn't that selfish? In my heart I know in 28 days they will move onto someone who will take them even farther than I probably could. As quickly as this feeling approached another takes its place. My throat catches in a slight gasp and my heart quickens at the thought of who awaits. Those who have never been on the writing journey that we take await. The door that they are behind is one of anticipation~where will they take me on the writing journey? And of course the mourning is short lived and replaced with the thought of what is to come.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Memoir Monday~My Motherhood~

Note to the reader: My class and I are working on our memoir unit. This is my first draft. We talked all about the different forms to memoir and our big goal is to show meaning through our mental pictures. The section that is a flashback about Emma's Diagnosis was from a small moment I wrote earlier in the year. I was really able to explain how difficult I thought this was to write with my students. When they saw my reaction while reading it I think they understood how much this means to me. We talked about the defining moments of our lives and how it has to be the right time to put them down on paper. Some moments are ready and some are not.


My Motherhood

By: Lynnelle

Motherhood seems so easy when you watch from the outside. Each day I “take care” of kids, but I never expected my journey of motherhood to change me so much. At first, the desire to be a mom was so strong my heart would ache to the point I thought my eyes would dry from all the tears that fell, each time I found out another couple’s baby was on the way.

I remember the day I found out I was going to be a mom. Excitement does not begin to express the way I felt. I called everyone to tell about our baby that was to be born on July 4th. Little did I know that her arrival would rock our universe.

Throughout my teaching career I believe that my life has been touched in some way by my students. I also feel that it is important that all children receive the best in education. Many people believe that I only advocate for children because my own child has a disability—but this was a strong piece of heart long before my girls arrived. As a teacher it is my responsibility to speak for a child when he or she is unable to make their voice heard.

My life did change after having Emma. The moment I heard her feeble cry and “it’s a girl” my heart danced with joy. Then my heart actually seemed to stop after we received her medical diagnosis.
Dr. Saddiqui and his messengers entered my room quietly. He came over to me. “I’m sorry, but we believe your daughter has Down syndrome,” he stated. “We are performing genetic testing and will have the results by Friday,” he continued. As the entourage left the room my mind swarmed with many confusing, racing thoughts. This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening! Not my daughter! This only happens to other people! My silent room was filled with emotional chaos. Outside my room the buzzing of the nurses continued, while the doctor’s voice echoed in my ears. I kept replaying the scene: genetic testing, no eye contact from the doctor, and I knew he was right. Emma had Down syndrome. Tears flowed down my cheeks in furious streaks and my temper flared!

“There is nothing wrong with Emma! How can they even think that? I exploded. I could feel the protective instinct envelop my child even though I had only been a mother for 24 hours.
How can this be happening? How can I possibly wait 3 days to find out? What do I do? Well, I waited. I prayed. I visited my tiny baby. And I waited.

On Friday, the hospital social worker called and asked us to come up to the conference room. My heart was thumping in my chest as I walked into the elevator and then into the room. On the table sat a box of tissues. My heart sank. I gasped. My heart began to break into tiny pieces. My sobs could be heard own the hall.

“Shh…you don’t even know the results,” said the social worker.

I wanted to scream what!!! This is my child we’re talking about! Instead I quietly replied, “True, but I don’t believe the news is what we want to hear.” I pointed to the tissue box and sat down.
A rush of activity caught my attention. Dr. Saddiqui entered the room with an unfamiliar doctor. She was very animated and it was obvious she was talking about my daughter. She turned and smiled at us. Then it seemed the whole world came crashing down around me. While I tried to stop my sobs and tears, Dr. Moghadan tried to explain what it meant when she told us Emma had Mosaic Down syndrome. But, it seemed that someone had pressed the mute button. I could not speak; I could not hear her words. My mind was rushing with many different thoughts. Will she be “normal?” Will she fall in love? Will she walk or talk?

Dr. Moghadan’s words changed me. I was no longer a “new parent,” but a parent of a special needs child. Not only did her words change me, but they changed others. People went from saying, “Congratulations” to “I’m sorry,” as if someone had died. However, I learned a lot about my self that day. I would gladly sacrifice my life to prevent my child from being hurt.
For me motherhood isn’t about just being a mom. It is recognizing that we don’t know where our life journey will take us. If our path takes us on way that seems unexpected we must embrace it; learn from it.
After Emma’s diagnosis I received the poem Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley. It expressed in words I could not articulate about how my life changed.
Welcome To Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
Now when I see tulips I am not just reminded of Spring and the rebirth of the flowers, trees and the smell of freshly cut grass, but the change to my life. My pace. My children’s pace. Don’t just endure hardships, but chose to grow.

As a mother and a teacher, my desire to impact others by helping them see the world and others in a different way burns deeply in my heart. I don’t know if my life story will change others, but hopefully the way I choose to treat others through my actions will plant a seed for other people to join me in my heart’s desire.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Memoir Monday~Grandmothers~

Everyday I am blessed to watch my mother as she takes care of my girls while I work. I am always in awe at her patience and I hope that they love their Nana as much as I loved my Granny.

One of the hardest things for me as a teenager was visiting my Grandmother in the nursing home while she suffered through the stages of Alzheimer's. The medical world is still looking for cures, but this was even before they had support groups and medications to help patients. They knew so little about this disease in the early nineties.

I dreaded walking into the home. The acrid smells. The moans of the patients. The little old lady who wheeled herself down the hallway as she cursed at those that passed. I couldn't understand how God could let this happen to people. How do you end up here? But, usually once we arrived into Granny's room she would be there. Her face would light up as we walked in to visit with her. I don't remember where my Mom was this day. I know she was there. Perhaps she was at the nursing station. My aunt and I walked in and she gave Grandma a kiss and asked how she was doing. I went to her bed to give her a hug and she jerked away. "Who are you?" She almost growled it to me.

"It's Lynnelle, your granddaugher," my aunt replied.

"No it's not. I want HER to get out!" My grandmother yelled.

I quickly left the room sobbing. It was so hard at 14 to understand what I know now as an adult. Even though she was not in her right mind and did not mean to hurt me it did hurt.

Now of course, I too have regrets. Regret that my stubbornness at 14 kept me from visiting as often as I should have. Regret that she didn't know her granddaughters on earth. Regret that she didn't watch me grow.

Grandmothers are special. I hope my girls treasure theirs.