So You are the Parent at a Poor School

So you are a middle class (probably white) person who has decided to send their kids to an “underprivileged” school. You care a lot about educational inequality and want to make a difference. After reading somethings on the internet (maybe written by me) you decide to do this! You do NOT fill out the forms and utilize the lotteries, you choose the path of least resistance and send your kid to the neighborhood school. You know no one else who has done this. You know that this is tricky and want to do it well. You know just enough to know you don’t know anything.

I am here to help! I taught high school in Atlanta for almost a decade, half of my time at an underprivileged school, and half at what can only be described as an over-resourced school. I know as a teacher what teachers need. I also am the white middle class parent at a poor black school. We chose three years ago to send our daughters to the neighborhood school when it was ranked the second worst in the state. We have loved every minute. Our kids are thriving. The school is an amazing community for us and my kids at 5 and 7 already understand that whiteness is one way to be, not THE way to be. They are way smarter than my 20 year old self.

If you want to ACTUALLY be helpful instead of FEEL like being helpful, here are some things you can do:

Know WHY you are there: If you are here to make the black school/poor school/refugee school a white middle class school, STOP. There are enough middle class white schools that you will be totally comfortable in. Go there. If you think you and your babies would benefit from an experience that is unlike the white middle class Dawson’s creek existence of (most likely) your own youth and you have a lot to learn, then you can proceed.

Understand Your Privilege: You are going to be listened to faster than anyone at the school. Your complaints will be taken more seriously, and if you have to run something up the chain it WILL be handled swiftly and harshly. You may not want this to be true, but it is. This may make people a little nervous when they interact with you. One complaint from you and a teacher may lose her job. Just know that any complaint you have will be taken very VERY seriously.

Assume Good Intent: There may be some things that they do at the school that you do not quite understand. Our school doesn’t use email as much as I would like them to. It used to annoy me. Then I figured out that they use text message because all the parents always have access to that. The school is more invested in you are in systems that work for them than you are, and they have thought about it longer. So, before you make all the suggestions, just watch. I promise you they are doing something for a reason.

Join the PTA: This is going to cost you ten dollars. Shell out. If you have a spouse or co-parent pay twenty and join separately. Mom, dad and step-mom? Everyone join! This is a national organization and it keeps track of what percentage of the school’s parents are in the PTA, they then give awards based on that. Just HAVING a PTA looks good for your school’s metrics. Even just having one improves your school, even if they don’t do anything, that ten dollars is not wasted.

Ask and Deliver: Ask your kids teacher, or the social worker “What is one thing you need.” They may tell you they don’t need anything. They are not telling the truth. Keep asking, “What is one thing I could do for you.” Then, deliver. If they say kleenex, buy kleenex. If they say lunch duty, show up. The school may have been functioning for years without volunteers and making room is sort of exhausting. Also, they are very used to people saying they will, and then not. If you want to help, you need to come through the first time so they know you are worth their energy.

Make Yourself Available: The teachers you are working with may not be used to planning ahead. Poverty is chaotic and sometimes oppurtunities that are free or reduced cost are often last minute. If you get asked day of to do something and you can, do it. If they ask on Wednesday and you are free on Friday, say yes to the field trip. If you get told at drop off they are out of paper towels, try to get some by pick up. These teachers are totally self reliant and have been their entire careers. Train them that you can be counted on. If you get annoyed, they will just stop asking.

Find your Beyoncé and Get Into Formation: You do not get to be the star of the show. You just don’t. You don’t know enough about the community. You don’t know any of the moves. Find someone you can back up. First I said YES to any request our pre-k teacher had. I made it happen, I volunteered my husband. As she got to know us she trusted us enough that we were able to advocate for her county wide. I always back up my kids’ teachers, but have also made good relationships with the social worker and the PTA president. I find out what they need and I do it. That easy. DO NOT make up a whole new set of moves. Just get into formation.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, DO NOT say it in Public: In the age of school choice NOTHING, I mean nothing is more important than school reputation. Because you are middle class and white, your opinion is worth a lot more than other parents. This is stupid and racist, but also it is true. DO NOT tweet, Facebook, or otherwise publicly complain about your school. Even if you say the good with the bad, people will only hear the bad because that is what they already believe. If worst comes to worst and you decide not to keep your kid at the local school learn this line: It just was not the best fit for our family. Other people really love it.

Rep for you school, Hard: The number one way you can be helpful is to be the biggest cheerleader your school has ever seen. Let everyone and their brother know just how much you LOVE your school, how GREAT it is. People like to support winners, and if you can get people to have positive thoughts attached with the school people will be more likely to support it. I joined the local mommy Facebook group to rep for, and defend my school. My friends know this. If they see my school mentioned they tag me in it. Practice smiling really big and saying loudly: Actually we love that school! I don’t know where you heard (that shitty thing you just said) but we go there and my kids are thriving! If you want to come with me to tour it I can arrange that! Despite what you heard about the test scores, I am VERY happy with the education my kids are getting! You will be shocked at the things people say to your face. Do not be silent. Stick up for your school. Because you are middle class and white people take what you have to say more seriously. Use that for the good.

Accept Charity: Listen here. You want to be part of this community? Then you need to be a receiver as well as a giver. If you have been raised middle class and white this is going to feel uncomfortable to you. You have been taught that you are supposed to provide for yourself. This is a lie that, if you do it right, your kids will not inherit. First, you accept charity so it isn’t shameful for anyone else. My kids get a “backpack of love” every weekend from the Methodist church that is on my seminary’s campus. We do not actually need the milk and peanut butter and graham crackers, but when they tried to make the program “opt in if you need it” no one would admit to needing it. Kids went hungry on the weekends. By normalizing receiving, everyone eats. The other thing is that this makes you a member of the community. I ran a coat drive that my child then benefitted from. This made it like a community thing instead of a “look at how good Abby is” thing. It was better.

Be Patient with Systems NOT Built for You: I said this before but it bears repeating. People of different classes and races have different ways of interacting with the world. The school is not used to people who work like you do. The communication might be through channels that aren’t your favorite. The pick up line might be chaotic because they have only ever had bus riders before. They may not know what to do with your kids’ packed lunch because everyone just uses the free lunch. The school has reasons for doing what they do. Find out what those reasons are before you demand change.

Praise People Lavishly: This is the easiest and most important thing you will do. Kids are bad at saying thank you  Parents already maxed out by life may not have the space for it. Be generous with your praise and your token gifts. Y’all I made a teacher cry by emailing the principal about how much I liked her. That was free. I drop off five dollar gift cards and bake cookies to drop in the teachers lounge. The teachers are the front lines and the best thing we could do for the kids is making sure the teachers know we love them.

That is it. That is all I got. TEACHERS if you have more suggestions find me on Twitter. Parents, if you have questions seriously contact me. It can be scary to do something no one else you know is doing. It can be scary doing something that is easy to mess up. You got this. I promise.

 

Advertisements

Momma Don’t Play That (What I Won’t be Doing Anymore)

This morning, while working on my side-gig as a social-media-manager for beginner bloggers, (contact me!) and showing someone the difference between my Facebook page, and my blogs Facebook page, the time-hop popped up with the teeny tiny baby Priscilla and Juliet. They were one and three and I was as tired as Priscilla looks. I was really just treading water; changing diapers and feeding people that were crying, and feeding me so I didn’t cry.

10514704_717306591662169_2194263179641406213_n

But this was 4 years ago and everyone in it has more hair. Also, more words. So many more words than I could have ever imagined. So many words y’all. Just so many.

It is July 2017, and my kids are 5 and 7. They go potty by themselves and can even get their own snack when they are so hungry they are crying. They can go get ME a snack when I am so hungry I am crying. But there are times when I simply revert back into mom-with-her-hands-filled-mode. I just move through the paces that have been in my house since our second child was born. But y’all, I am no longer the only one who is capable of helping us get out the door when Christian is teaching summer classes.

I think that sometimes parents get stuck in the mode of whatever they are doing. There is an old family story my mom tells of her being half way done cutting up her own father’s steak before she realized what she was doing. My Grampy didn’t need his meat cut, it was just the mode she was in. I get that. I have been there, I have opened Christian’s food without thinking about it on numerous occasions.

But Y’ALL this is how helicopter parents are made. One moment you are tying the shoes of someone who probably can do it herself and the next moment you are calling your 25 year old’s boss to let her know she isn’t feeling well while you make her a doctor’s appointment for a flu shot. This is not how I want to live my life. In a moment of complete stress last spring I calculated when I was going to be an empty-nester and WOO-HOO 46! I will not be spending those glory years doing laundry for grown-ups I did not marry.  I am hoping for a ridiculous amount of European vacations and ordering in dinner more than 4 days a week.

So, as of July 2017 here are the things that I am no longer in charge of. Mom’s role is constantly changing and there are a host of things that I am no longer willing to do.

1.    Finding shoes that are not mine. My kids sometimes misplace the shoes that are still on their own feet. I am aware, after picking up my own house, that the leaving your shoes any old place gene is from me. I can’t even keep track of my own shoes, I certainly should not be finding everyones. If you can’t find your own shoes, you can’t go where we are going. Too bad, so sad, and yes I cringe a little when they wear mismatched rain boots instead of the adorable sandals we spent 6 hours picking out at Target. But if you wore them, and you lost them, you find them. I will not be scouring the house, looking under couches, checking behind the toilet for the shoes that you only decided were important when you couldn’t find them. Everyone finds their own shoes.

2.   Being the Snack Fairy. I get it. You are hungry. I buy your clothes and your shoes I promise I know you are hungry. I am fine with that. You can eat as much as you want. You have shown me that you are fully capable of opening the pantry and the fridge. You know what the snack foods are. Eat them. If you don’t want to eat the cheese sticks, fresh fruit, granola bars, or crackers you are NOT. THAT. HUNGRY. You know are awesome Title One school feeds you breakfast AND lunch during the school year. I am struggling as it is to feed you three times a day. That just seems like a lot. I certainly cannot do it extra. I have made my provisions. You do you.

3.    Refereeing. For the benefit of my own sanity, I can no longer referee your fights. I am so sorry. If your sister is doing something that makes you crazy, walk away. There will be plenty of people in your adult life who will make you nuts, you might as well learn how to work with them or walk away now. When you get promoted for knowing how to deal with impossible team members, you can thank me.

4.    Taking Your Turn. I will no longer be taking your turn. So, when it is your turn to get the dog out of the cage, help me set the table, or put away the silverware then you need to do it. Here is the thing  about your turn. I know I only have two kids so I should theoretically be able to know whose turn it is, but HEY not my job either. I am doing the best I can, and since my children can’t figure that out without fighting (see rule #3) then I guess we will just have to assume that with only 2 kids and 18 years of guessing it will all wash out in the end. If it doesn’t after that time, you can move out! If I say it is your turn, that means it is your turn. I won’t be doing it anymore.

That’s it. That is what I am not doing. See you in two years when y’all will be walking the dog all by yourself, and also your own laundry. I am looking forward to it. Have fun for now, when I still fold your panties. I promise, when you go to college knowing how to do all of that, you will thank me.

 

 

 

 

Integration and Community Schools

Three days a week this school year, I dropped my kids off this morning over by the side door. The man at the door waves hello but does not come to open the doors, he has already learned which mini-vans have automatic doors. I roll down the window so I can hear his music. This man has gotten himself a portable blue tooth speaker and he plays funk classics every morning, just to get the kids’ day started off right. He runs a tiny gentlemen’s school where he instructs the boys to tuck in their shirts and let the ladies go first. He looks the boys in the eye, man to man. He notices and compliments the color of the new bows on top of the girls heads. He is just so good at his job.

My youngest has become especially close with her para-pro. This doesn’t surprise me. Priscilla has been welcome in that classroom since Juliet was there 2 years ago. The para-pro hasn’t changed and she has always been fond of Priscilla. In my girl’s school, when they say that they are a community school, they mean that. If you are part of the community, you are in, even if that means that your sister goes to the school and you hang around when your dad is volunteering in the cafeteria.

This winter I led a coat drive for the kids in the school who needed one. I put a link on the internet in, and in three hours the coats were on the way to my house. I packed them into my mini van and delivered them to a social worker who had been praying for God to provide for the children in her care.

A week later Juliet came home with a new coat. I knew hers was a little short in the arms but we  live in Georgia and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to wait one more year. After outfitting everyone who had no coat, they moved on to the kids who had coats that were obviously too small. My daughter jumped into my van after school totally thrilled “Mom! Look! I got a new coat! It has a heart on it!” She was thrilled. I was horrified.

I could have gotten my daughter a coat. I could have taken care of that. I did not need a hand out. They didn’t see it like that. The community saw me as a member of the family. They had something we could use, so they gave it to us. We all gave and we all took and everyone got what they needed.

I have been in the church my whole life, and I think I have learned more about community at this school than I have at any other church I have attended. I learned how good it was to be able to say “we love our coat too!” when someone thanked me for theres. It wasn’t charity that I gave and they received. It was just a community thing that we all benefit from.

This morning I heard yet another program on NPR lamenting the fact that American schools are segregated. I read somewhere else recently that most people want the schools their kids attend to be integrated. And yet, many choose vouchers and charters and moving into a different district before they will send their kids to a school that is less than thirty percent white. We want integrated schools in theory. We want a better system but we don’t want to do the things that would change the system we currently have. We want schools that are comfortable to us, that work like white schools, but have kids of color in them. We still want to be in charge. We want a community school that values efficiency above teaching boys how to open doors and noticing hair bows.

I am so grateful that I am learning a new way from my kids school, that my girls are being taught this community way while they are young enough to absorb it as simply the way things are done. Where you notice, and care for, and invite in, and welcome, and share. I am glad for the ways my community is patient with me, in learning those things alongside my girls. I too want integrated schools, but I don’t want a white take over of a school that is already beautifully functioning. I don’t want things my way, I want to do better. I want people to join me who want to do better too.

Do You Know What an Innocent Black Kid Looks Like?

It is June 9, and in about half the country school is out for summer. For me and my girls this means pool time at our friends apartment complex and an excessive amount of outside foods (watermelon, popsicles, klondike bars). It means hanging out in our pajamas until lunch time and cheap matinee movies when it is raining. It means less rules and more sleep. It means summer fun.

But this isn’t the reality for very many of my neighbors. In my predominantly black neighborhood, I am only just learning the dangers of summer. For my neighbors summer means more sleepless nights and more fear. Our predominantly black neighborhood is changing quickly, old abandoned houses turn to cute renovated open floor plan funky colored relator peddled property in two weeks or less. They never stay on the market long. Apparently, we’re up and coming.

For me, this means that our “buy as much as we can afford” plan from eight years ago looks like a genius investment, for my neighbors it means their teenage boys are more likely to be harassed on the neighborhood streets. On the first day of summer a kid was traumatized for riding his bike to his friends house. He hadn’t even left his own neighborhood. His mother documented it on Twitter, otherwise it would not be news.

I wish I could tell you that I don’t know how this happens. I wish I could tell you that it is a mystery to me, but it isn’t. At twenty-three and surrounded by black children I found myself reacting as I had been trained. Having mostly seen black boys portrayed as criminals in the media, I interpreted benign actions as aggressive. I wish I could tell you I am the only one. But my neighborhood Facebook page, the Nextdoor site tell another story.

The suspicious people being reported in my gentrified neighborhood are almost all brown. The people being suspicious are almost all white. People opening car doors or looking in windows I understand, but every once in a while there is a post about a group of teenagers hanging out. What are they doing? Why are they there? Should we call the police? Sometimes it is just a particularly large or slow walking man the poster is curious about. They have conveniently snapped a picture so we can all take a look, decide if the person walking down the street is up to no good.

It took me a year surrounded by black teenage boys to learn what an innocent teenager looked like. It took me a year to figure out that I was surrounded by innocent teenage boys.

When we moved into the neighborhood eight years ago, a group of boys were on the corner just hanging out. I rolled slowly by as to not hit anyone who made a sudden move and they crossed their arms and mean-mugged me. I thought it was hilarious. I knew what innocent teenage boys looked like.  I rolled down my window and in my best and brightest first day of school voice I introduced myself. “My name is Abby! We just moved in! We live in that brown house over there! It is nice to meet you!” They raised their eyebrows at me and walked away. I saw them on the corner pretty much every day that summer. I waved. They mostly ignored me.

It took me another year to realize that this was a defense mechanism, that the boys guessed that I would see them as a threat regardless of how they acted, so they may as well be in charge of their own destiny. At 16 or so, they were already familiar with nervous white women calling the cops on them for no good reason. They already knew there was nothing they could do to diffuse white fear.

White fear has to diffuse itself.

But I rarely see white fear diffuse itself. Instead it ignores itself, justifies itself, if called out defends itself. White fear is allowed to exist, even if it kills black kids. And I get it, I do. It is horrible and awful to realize that the default thought you have about a group of kids is: criminal. It is really terrible to realize you have this racial bias, even when you don’t want it. But these things need to be faced, because they are actually traumatizing people, sometimes killing them.

I wish I could give all the white people in my neighborhood Facebook groups the benefit of the doubt, in fact I am sure that they really do not “mean anything” by the question about the kids on the corner, but it doesn’t matter what we mean. Actions have consequences.

White women, do we know how dangerous our fear is? Do we know how seriously it is taken? A few summers ago I was walking my overly friendly dog. We walked up my driveway just as a man walked by my house. I turned to say hello and my pit-bull pulled at the leash, I smiled and turned to tell him how friendly my dog was. He already had his hands raised. “Please don’t sic your dog on me.”

I was stunned. As a white woman I am conditioned to believe that I am never a threat, that my presence is never perceived as dangerous. My fear is always justified and I could never hurt a fly. But this isn’t true. My fear has been weaponized against the black community before I was born. My concern is reason enough for a child to be harassed or a gun to be drawn for my protection. If I feel afraid, I am allowed to sic my dog on a man who is walking in front of my house. This is the world that we live in. And when we feel afraid we need to know that.

We need to look at ourselves and our fear. We need to really understand why we are afraid. Do you know what innocent black boys look like? I am asking because I didn’t. I am asking because I don’t want my neighborhood to be a place where my black neighbors are harassed for existing in their communities. I know it is weird and uncomfortable. I know I will be accused of race baiting and blowing things out of proportion simply for writing all of this down. I have decided black lives are worth a lot more than my own discomfort.

It is summer, and teenage boys are out of school, teenage girls are wandering around in packs laughing too loudly, children are biking to their friends house. Everyone is staying out too late. At least, I hope they are. I hope they all get the summer my kids are guaranteed. I know that the world can feel like a scary place, but we need to react with the reality that is: Our fear makes it a scarier place for people of color.

Do you know what an innocent black kid looks like? Do you check yourself before you report something? Are you willing to look at yourself, your motives, your fear? Are black lives worth that to you?

To Juliet, On her Seventh Birthday

Dear Juliet,

Yesterday you turned seven. Seven. You did a lot of growing up this year. You have more grown up teeth in your mouth than little ones. Your pants are constantly too short. Your arms and legs seem to grow at a pace that is only matched by your appetite. You are always hungry. You are just so long.

Yesterday, after cupcakes at school and dinner at the play place with your cousins, and ice cream cake you picked out yourself at the Baskin Robbins, your cousin came home and told your Aunt Jill, “Juliet is a good sharerer.” You are. At seven years old you are exceptionally good at sharing, at including, at kindness. You spend most of your time at your Aunt’s house playing with your baby cousin because he needs someone to play with. You are quick to let people play with your new toys. I have lost track of the number of adults who have pulled me aside to tell me of the encouraging word you told them.

“You are doing a great job! You are beautiful! Your baby is so cute! I see you are a good mom!” I have heard all of these things come out of your mouth right to a stranger, and I have seen their faces light up as they look at me astounded. Please don’t grow out of giving strangers compliments. They desperately need to be told how good they are, we all do.

This year, you have decided that you are going to grow up and be president. You were a little worried about who would take care of your kids if you did that. I offered to move into the Whitehouse, your sister promised not to protest you as long as you didn’t do anything bad. You have been discussing with her, very seriously, the laws that you would employ. Mostly, you just think everyone should share, and everyone should be kind to each other, and no killing. That is it. That is what you want the world to look like.

The older you get the more I can see the ways the world is pressing up against you. You are just so innocent. You are just so joyful. You are just so willing to believe the best about everyone, everywhere, every time. I spend equal moments being in awe of this, and worrying about when this spark will be extinguished. This year though I am beginning to suspect the answer is never. You are more resilient than I give you credit for. I think this is just your gift to the world. I think you are just a gift to the world.

All my Love,

Mom

White Women, Can We Do Better?

I participated in the hashtag #thingsonlychristianwomenhear. I finally recognized that God was calling me into the ministry when I was a member of a Southern Baptist church, a church that did not affirm my call because I was a women. Their policies didn’t allow it. It was a confusing time and an especially hurtful blow from people who were so readily affirming me in so many other areas. It was hard. I loved my church, they loved me. But they could not support me in what I was sure God was calling me to do. It felt like they could not totally see me.

Like most social media phenomena that catches on, there were a huge number of women tweeting their own stories through #thingsonlychristianwomencanhear and then some weird male replies about how we needed to stop talking about the church like that….it was weird. And completely unsurprising.

The next part is also completely unsurprising. There were some round up posts highlighting some of the tweets. Almost all of those highlights disproportionately highlighted white women. There were women of color using the hashtag. Mostly, they were not included in the roundups. Mostly they were not heard.

I wish I could tell you I noticed,  but I didn’t. Danyelle at the Unfit Christian pointed it out to me. I was just excited my name was on the same list as some of my favs. Oops.

As white women who are saying, we are told especially harmful things because of our social location in the church, it is imperative that we hear our sisters say that same exact thing from a different social location, one that we in some ways share (ladies unite!) and also one we could never know (hello racial disparities).

Here is the thing that is TOTALLY BIZARRE to me. We say the exact same things to our sisters of color that we completely role our eyes at when men say them to us. When a man tells us they don’t know any gifted women who want in the pulpit, we know it is because they haven’t looked. If you twitter feed was covered in those who looked like you and no one else using that hashtag, you aren’t following enough women of color. They are there. Can you see them?

Y’all, we know WE KNOW how hurtful it is when someone cannot see us because of who God has designed us to be. We know, WE KNOW what it feels like to go into a space knowing you are not really wanted there. We know, WE KNOW how hurtful it is to go to someone and say “hey, will you see me?” and have them brush it off with a shrug and a comment that makes it clear that they will not.

Those of us familiar with this wound should be the first who are able to say I am sorry to those who have inflicted the same kind of hurt onto. We can do better. If we are the ones who are familiar with this hurt, we are the ones who should be the first to recognize when we inflict it on another.

I don’t know how to solve systemic sexism, or racism. I don’t even really know how to get my kids to church on time on Sundays, but I do know that God calls us to do what we can with what we have.

I went on Twitter and started the hashtag #womenofcolortofollow (after first starting one that incorrectly labeled these women. Y’all. I’m not trying to put myself out here as perfect. I messed up. I corrected it. I was not yelled at. I was thanked. We can do this.) If you don’t have a lot of women of color in your life, in your blog role, on your twitter feed start there. Other people have joined in.

White women, here I think is ultimately my question for each of us. Will we use our hurts in being excluded in conversations as a reason to box out other people so we can keep our space? Or, will we practice allowing the ways we have been hurt to inform our hearing hurts our sisters of color? Will we work toward the kingdom of God?

On being whole and taking Prozac

My word for the year is “whole.” I had decided sometime in December that I wasn’t going to get my word for 2017 until epiphany. I would just let it go, and just like that it came into my head. Whole. My word for 2017 is whole. I spent January and February and some of March writing it everyday on my hand. All capital, all lower case, all cursive, big, small, colored ink, blank. Every day on my left hand: whole.

I want to be whole.

I gave up negative self talk for Lent. I announced it cheekily on my Facebook page and invited everyone to join me. Only, I couldn’t. I could not give up the voices in my head telling me I was not enough, telling me I would fail, telling me that everything was too hard and I was too soft and I just could not keep up with my life so why try? Praying it away wasn’t enough.

How do you commit to being whole when every third thought you have is that you are irreversibly broken?

When I went on vacation with just my husband and still could not shake the feeling that something was coming for me, that I was not enough (Y’all all we had to do all day was wander around and eat, how could I not be enough?) I knew I could not do this on my own. I called from our hotel room to take advantage of the free student counseling through my school. I got in the next day, and the day after that I got a psychiatrist referral, and the day after that a prescription for Prozac.

I gave myself permission to take it for two weeks, be incredibly gentle with myself, and just try to maintain C’s. I told some of my professors. My preaching professor, who I have ridiculous amounts of respect for looked me dead in the face and reminded me that my wholeness was more important than any grade I could get. I knew this, but being reminded was certainly God’s grace to me that day.

I am almost at the end of my two weeks. My appetite is kind of off, and I feel a little shaky at the wrists, but I am not so scared of life anymore. I am able to see that some of my thoughts (like they are going to kick me out for incorrect citations) are maybe not totally rational, and that maybe there is no need to hold myself to an impossible standard then berate myself for not attaining it all the time.

Monday after school I was able to take the girls easter dress shopping. It was hard, but not impossible. After we picked out my dresses (they really wanted me to get a pink lacy one, I declined. Dresses with rhinestones were also quietly vetoed) and I tried them on. (Priscilla says: That one is cute but so not you. She was right. It was returned to the racks.) They wanted the same experience, so we collected three dresses a piece and tried them on and chose.

I know my plate is always full, but I would not have had the space for this without meds. Of that much I am sure. It was a big win. I could follow today in systematic theology without talking myself down. I am not as anxious that I will fail out of school.

A week ago today I planted seeds as an act of prayer. It wasn’t my idea, these seeds of hope. I was too far in the dark. I am too used to killing off plants. I took this little pot and put it on the window. I would have told you that I forgot about it but I must have been looking at it every day because I noticed when it sprouted. My seeds of hope sprouted. There are four of them now, and they keep getting taller.

I am not fully healed. I think I am headed in the right direction but there is still some work to be done, some blood tests, some checking in, probably some therapy. But there are seeds of hope. I can sort out the thoughts as helpful and not. I can take my kids Easter dress shopping. I can do my assignments without talking myself down. These are all good things. I can nurture this grace that is growing inside of me. I can feel it growing. I am working my way toward whole.