Siren and Immy on their last day of school of 2016
For reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on, 2016 was challenging. Parenting-wise, age 5 has been great. The girls started school, and it is so neat to watch them grow and learn. So I can’t think of any parenting aspects, specifically, that made it a difficult year.
Maybe the biggest factor is that I STILL can’t run. After kind of sort of but mostly not running in 2015, I did nearly zero running in 2016. (I say “nearly zero” because there has been the occasional game of tag or just general running after the girls that most parents are probably familiar with.) Starting in March of 2015, I basically stopped running. But I kind of cheated to help the girls practice for and then run a one-mile fun run in August. And I kind of cheated to train with the girls and run a Turkey Trot 5K in November. In February of 2016, I finally FINALLY saw a podiatrist. He fitted me with orthotics, gave me a “sling” to put my foot in at night, and now I ONLY wear supportive athletic shoes, even to work and to church. All of this has helped, a lot, but I am STILL not pain free, and therefore I have not been able to resume running. This has resulted in some weight gain and in my overall crankiness. Running was a big part of my stress relief and just being able to feel “even.” I do my best to exercise outside of running. Most weeks I do Jillian at least three days a week, and I try to walk for at least 30 minutes two or three other days during the week. During the summer I also rode my bike and went on some hikes. These just don’t seem to have the same mood-boosting effects of running, though, and definitely not the same calorie burn.
So on this first day of 2017, I’m really hoping that this will be the year I can start running again, and start losing weight again, and start feeling more like myself again.
However, 2016 wasn’t all bad. Specifically I can think of two moments when I very strongly felt like I AM on the right path and I AM exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. These two experiences are what inspired me to write, so I want to describe these.
The first one occurred last spring. In my AP classes, we read the book An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina. It is about the genocide in Rwanda. This is the one carry-over unit that I have from my Holocaust Literature class that I used to teach. This book is not commonly used in an AP class, but I continue to teach it because I believe that the content, the history, the connections to the Holocaust, and the issue of genocide in general is so important. We finish the book a little before the AP Test, and then after the test, we usually watch the film Hotel Rwanda. I have done this with my students for a few years now, so I’m not sure why THIS year it had such an impact on me, but I had a moment while watching the film when I realized that genocide is the issue that I care about and can educate about. I just felt so grateful that I have the AP class and the opportunity to teach this and to continue to educate students about it.
The second time occurred at the end of August, right as school was starting. Tragically, a 2015 graduate of our school died in a car accident. This deeply affected many of our current and former students. The night of the accident, community members organized a vigil for his family and friends. I asked a few of our staff members if they were going, and they said they were unable to attend. I really wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate for me to go or not. If it was meant to be a place for the student’s friends, I didn’t want to be the strange adult there who didn’t belong. But as I thought about it, I thought that ultimately, if I were the parent and this vigil was for my child, I would want to see the lives he had touched, and I would want to know that the adults who had been part of his life cared about him and thought he was a good person, so I went. There were a couple of other staff members there, a counselor, the football coach, but I think that was it. The crowd was mainly the friends of this student, but I am still really glad that I was there. The group walked from the meeting location to this student’s parent’s house, and on the way, I saw the student’s older brother. He had also been one of my students and had graduated in 2015. I saw him ahead of me in the crowd. At one point he looked back and stopped walking. The crowd continued to go forward around him. When I reached him, he held out his arm and gave me a hug, and he told me that he really appreciated me being there that night. I told him that our whole school was thinking of him when we heard the news, and to let us know if we could help in anyway.
At that moment, in the middle of such a supportive community, I felt like I was in exactly the right place. There is such little comfort we can offer to others when they are hurting over a death, but I felt like everyone being there in that moment made a difference. Maybe only a small difference, but still an important difference, and I was so glad to be a part of it.
So while there are things I am struggling with, I am feeling content in knowing that for now, I am in the right place. I am hopeful that in 2017 I can continue on in the right direction, hopefully RUNNING in the right direction.