September 21st, 2013 | No Comments »

Em Dexter

Debora Morgan foi promovida a tenente. Em uma conversa com seu irmão, ela fala de sua tristeza por seu pai não ter vivido para ver essa grande conquista. Ela o admirava, e se esforçava para ser como ele e para ser reconhecida por ele. Eu entendo totalmente como Debora se sente.

Na minha vida

Minha mãe é uma das pessoas que eu mais admiro no mundo, e ter sua aprovação sempre ocupou um grande espaço na minha vida. No meu caso, porém, ficou um vazio a mais. Minha mãe sempre foi minha torcedora, a pessoa que conhecia meus objetivos, que me ajudava a pensá-los e repensá-los, e que celebrava comigo cada conquista, por menor que fosse.

Dor

O momento que me apavorava por muito tempo, o momento em que ela não estaria presente, chegou no final de maio. Eu havia chorado sua perda um milhão de vezes antes, e chorei um milhão mais depois que ela morreu. Meu verão, entretanto, foi uma montanha russa de luto e entusiasmo, pois perdi minha mãe um mês depois de ter meu primeiro e único filho. Estivemos ocupados, recebendo visita de familiares queridos, visitando familiares queridos, passando momentos deliciosos com amigos. Acima de tudo, eu passei a ter essa preciosidade na minha vida, esse tesouro de quem cuidar.

As vezes, porém, a própria existência do meu filhote me lembra da ausência da minha mãe porque ela se foi sem me dar a chance de apresentá-la pessoalmente à minha maior realização. A dor resultante penetra fundo e aperta meu coração, espremendo aleatoriamente lágrimas de tristeza em momentos de alegria.

Saudade

Esta noite eu pensei nela quando lia para meu filhotinho. Como ela, uma das personagens – uma boneca de pano que ela adorava – é obstinada, brilhante, e troca nomes de pessoas e lugares. Eu sorri ao lembrar que, quando a mamãe me visitou em fevereiro, rebatizou o supermercado Fred Meyer, chamando-o Fred Mercury, da mesma forma como rebatizou o shopping Villa Lobos, chamando-o Shopping Monteiro Lobato.

Nunca mais

Eu sinto tanta falta da minha mãe! Eu sinto falta de sua sensibilidade, de sua postura aristocrática, de seu tom de voz severo, de seu toque delicado, de sua presença forte. Mas acho que o que mais dói é a idéia de “nunca mais”. Nunca mais abraçá-la, nunca mais compartilhar dúvidas ou realizações com ela, nunca poder digerir completamente o ‘ser mãe’ na troca de experiências com ela.

Apesar de ter pessoas maravilhosas na minha vida, minha mãe era a única pessoa que podia se colocar completamente na minha pele, empatizando com meus sentimentos, por mais insignificantes que parecessem ao coração destreinado. Eu vou sentir muita falta desta certeza.

Já não me apavoro, mas me entristece perceber que preciso crescer e dar conta de ser auto suficiente.

Posted in life, Português
September 21st, 2013 | No Comments »

In Dexter

Debora Morgan was promoted lieutenant. In a conversation with her brother, she expressed her sadness for not having her father around to see her success. She looked up to her father, and worked hard to be like him and to be acknowledged by him. I could totally relate to Debora’s feelings.

In my life

My mother was one of the people I admired the most, and earning her approval was a huge part of my life. In my case, however, there is one more void. My mother was always my cheerleader, the person who knew my goals, who helped me think and rethink them, and who celebrated with me each little accomplishment.

Pain

The moment I had dreaded for a long time, the moment when she would be gone, came in the end of May. I had cried her loss a million times before, and I cried a million more after she died. My summer, however, was a roller coaster of grief and excitement, since I lost my mother one month after I had my first and only baby. We were kept busy, having family come to visit, traveling to visit family, spending great moments with friends. Most of all, I had this little light to take care of, my little treasure.

At times, however, his very existence reminds me that she is gone because she left without giving me the chance to introduce her in person to my greatest feat. The pain I feel for this cuts deep and squeezes my heart, pouring random tears of sadness in moments of happiness.

Saudade

Tonight I thought of her as I read to my baby boy. Like her, one of the characters – a talking rag doll she loved – is willful, brilliant, and changes names of people and places. I smiled remembering that when mom visited me in February she renamed Fred Meyer, the supermarket: it became Fred Mercury, the same way she had renamed the mall near her home in Sao Paulo, calling it Monteiro Lobato instead of Villa Lobos.

Never

I miss my mother so much! I miss her sensibility, her aristocratic stance, her stern tone, her gentle touch, her strong presence. But I think what hurts the most is the idea of “never”. Never be able to hug her again, never be able to share doubts or accomplishments with her again, never be able to completely make sense of being a mom by exchanging experiences with her.

Although there are wonderful people in my life, my mom was the one person that could always completely relate to what I was feeling, however insignificant it might seem to the untrained heart. I will miss that certainty.

I no longer fear, but it does sadden me to realize I need to grow up now and do it all by myself.

Posted in life
May 5th, 2013 | No Comments »

Minha irma veio do Brasil para me acompanhar em minha estréia como mãe. Ela tem dois filhos – filhos que ela deixou no Brasil para estar aqui comigo, 100% focada nas minhas necessidades.

O que passamos juntas nesses dias deu um novo sentido sobre o que significa ser irmã. De forma semelhante a percepção que tive sobre minha relação com meu marido, a postura de minha irmã durante o intenso processo de parto abriu meus olhos ao sentido da irmandade.

Sempre fomos diferentes em tantos aspectos. Ela é prática, eu sou idealista; ela é organizada, eu sou caótica; ela planeja sua vida, eu deixo a minha acontecer. Apesar disso, acho que ambas nutrimos uma pela outra um afeto profundo que não é sempre evidente ao olho nu.

Nossas diferenças ficaram tão claras quando eu revelei minhas escolhas referentes ao parto – especialmente em relação a intervenções médicas.

E foi então que eu vi o amor fluir dela. Seu primeiro movimento foi compartilhar sua experiencia e fazer sugestões, falando comigo sobre intervenção médica para acelerar o parto e administrar a dor. E, francamente, eu fiquei desapontada por ela tentar mudar minhas idéias.

Porém, quando ela percebeu que minha posição estava tomada, ela mudou de atitude tão completamente que sua flexibilidade me comoveu – uma característica que eu não conhecia nela. Ela se uniu ao meu marido para me massagear, me ajudando a lidar com a dor que eu não queria apagar artificialmente. Ela pensou em maneiras alternativas que ela conhecia para suportar a dor, como imersão em água morna. Ela me protegeu do mundo externo, filtrando ligações, mensagens de texto, etc, mas ao mesmo tempo mantendo a família informada do estado das coisas.

Essa mudança na atitude dela e o apoio que mostrou foram para mim prova do amor maior – amor que é a raíz de um respeito pelo outro mesmo quando as idéias diferem das nossas próprias.

Eu espero que ela saiba que eu tenho por ela o mesmo afeto. Espero que seja percepível para ela da mesma forma como o dela por mim se fez visível nesses dias que ela está aqui cuidando de mim enquanto eu aprendo a ser mãe do meu nenezinho, às vezes seguindo seus passos, outras tomando uma direção diferente, mas sempre com o maior respeito pela experiencia dela, por sua opinião e por quem ela é.

Posted in life, Português
May 5th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

My sister flew here from Brazil to be with me in my inception as a mother. She has two children of her own – children she left in Brazil to be here with me, focusing 100% on my needs.

The process we went through together shed a new light to the meaning of sisterhood. Just like the realization that came upon me of my relationship with my husband, my sister’s stance through the intensity of my birthing process opened my eyes to the meanig of being a sibling.

We have always been very different in so many aspects. She is practical, I am idealistic; she is organized, I am chaotic; she plans her life, I let mine happen. Still, I think we both nurture for each other a deep affection that isn’t always evident to the naked eye.

Our differences became oh so clear when I brought to the table the choices I made for birthing my baby – especially when it came to medical interventions.

And that’s when I saw the love flow from her. Her first movement was share her experience and make suggestions, talking to me about accepting medical help to speed up labor and manage pain. I was against both. And quite frankly, I was disappointed she would try to change my mind.

Once she realized I was firm in my position, however, she shifted so completely I was moved by her flexibility – a trait I had not known her to have. She joined my husband in massaging me, helping me cope with the pain I did not want to kill artificially. She brought up alternative pain management solutions, such as using warm water. She kept the outside world at bay, filtering the phone calls, text messages, and the like, while still informing the family of the state of things.

This change in her attitude and the support she showed me were to me proof of the deepest love – love that is the root of respect even for ideas that differ from our own.

I hope she realizes I nurture the same affection for her. I hope it shows through as clearly as hers did to me in the days she’s been here taking care of me while I learn to be a mother to my baby, sometimes following her steps, sometimes veering in a different direction, but always nurturing the deepest respect for her experience, her opinion and her self.

Posted in life
May 5th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Ideas

We are home with our perfect baby boy now. He was born on April 29 in a ‘normal’ birth, aided by epidural anesthesia. And let me say, I do not think I would have survived without it.

Throughout my very tranquil pregnancy my husband and I pondered the options. He has always made it clear that the final say was mine, since it was my body on the line. And he held my hand the whole way – physically and metaphorically. One of the ideas that was on my mind even before conception was that I wanted a healthy, toxin-free baby. That encompassed the way I prepared my body to conceive, the attention I had to my eating habits during the pregnancy, and the ideas I gathered about the delivery.

On that last item, I knew I wanted to provide our baby with a normal birth instead of a cesarean. I knew I wanted as little medical intervention as possible, and that referred to the method of delivery as well as to the ‘additives’ that are offered to laboring women.


Hypnobirthing

We found hypnobirthing as an alternative pain management procedure, we took the classes and I practiced a little at home, as much as I could within my busy routine.

Last weekend, when I went into labor, hypnobirthing was my companion throughout the pre-labor and early labor parts of the experience. The breathing and relaxing techniques I had learned helped me cope with the pain of the ‘surges’ – as they call the contractions.


My hero

Nothing, however, helped me cope with giving birth as much as my husband did. He kept me grounded and focusing on my breathing, he offered numerous times to get my hypnobirthing recordings to help me relax and focus, he massaged my back each time I had a contraction, he hugged me and danced with me (another way to relax the back muscles), and he looked at me with proud eyes that let me know I was being a hero to him as much as he was being a hero to me.


Crossroad

At 8 cm dilation, when my water broke, the back cramps I had were so powerful I felt as if I was being torn from the inside, and I felt I was going to lose consciousness – or maybe I hoped I would just so I would not feel that pain any longer. That was a crucial point in the whole giving birth process, a point in which we had to revise our expectations and deal with reality in real time. After being sure no harm would come to the baby, we agreed that the epidural was the way to go. And I am thankful we did. Thinking back to the intensity of what I went through, I do not believe I would have survived had I not taken the anesthesia. The epidural made it possible by masking the pain so I could birth my baby. And my husband made it possible by bringing to light our strength as a couple. I could not have made it without either.

Posted in life
April 21st, 2013 | No Comments »

Intenções e realidade

Quando eu engravidei, achei que iria escrever durante todo o processo. Eu estava empolgada, emocionada, nervosa, e pensei que a experiencia pela qual eu iria passar seria digna de processar por meio da escrita, como eu tenho a tendência de fazer com experiencias importantes em minha vida.

Aconteceu que a vida se tornou incrivelmente agitada e me impediu de fazê-lo. Primeiro, me designaram uma nova posição no distrito: professora de 2a série. A adaptação requerida por este trabalho nao se resumiu ao fato de eu ter dois grupos de 25 alunos, ensinar em espanhol e as responsabilidades que acompanham a professora de sala. Sendo em uma nova escola, esta posicao aumentou minha viagem em 15 minutos, e passei a dirigir 1 hora para ir e 1 hora para voltar. Por esse e outros fatores, decidimos nos mudar para uma cidadezinha menor e mais perto do meu trabalho, decisao que exigiu tempo para procurar uma casa que atendesse a nossas novas necessidades. Uma vez estabelecidos na nova casa, atividades relacionadas ao bebê começaram a se acumular: consultas, aulas, preparação do quarto, lista de chá de bebê…

Tornar-se mãe

Acontece que eu vivi esses 9 meses com os altos e baixos de estar grávida, mas sem tempo para organizar meus sentimentos e idéias por escrito. Teria valido a pena, uma vez que agora não me lembro claramente de detalhes das experiências intensas que tive. Queria tanto poder! Essas experiências são parte da mãe em que estou me transformando, assim como da esposa e professora e tudo o mais em que me tornarei. Ontem, conversando com minha mãe, ela soltou uma de suas sábias frases: “Você não vai se tornar mãe quando o nenê nascer. Você se tornou mãe no momento que acolheu esse nenê dentro de você.” TÃO verdade, isso! A experiência compartilhada, todas as mudanças, as sensações estranhas, os acessos de riso e também os de choro, os ligamentos estirando e a barriga crescendo… Uma relação tão intensa se desenvolvendo! E tão maravilhosa também!

O foco

Uma das percepções mais importantes que eu tive foi que estar grávida não é sempre confortável, mas estar suficientemente empolgada com a gravidez voltou meu foco para as razões por trás do desconforto e me levou a entendê-lo como parte de nosso desenvolvimento – meu e do bebê – em vez de manter minha atenção em meu próprio corpo e em minha própria pessoa.

Depois de passar por tudo isso, e depois de todas as aulas e conversas, espero que o parto também me permita focar no processo e no meu menininho vindo compartilhar o mundo conosco em vez de prestar atenção no que fará meu corpo sentir.

Posted in life, Português
April 21st, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Intentions and reality

When I first got pregnant, I thought I was going to blog every step of the way. I was excited, thrilled, nervous, and I thought it was an experience worth processing through writing, as I often do with powerful experiences in my life.

It so happened that life became incredibly busy. First, I got a new position as a classroom teacher, which posed a series of challenges as I adapted to what it meant to have two groups of 25 students every day and the responsibility that comes with the job. With the new position being in a different school, my commute went from 45 minutes to 1 hour each way, then, because of that and other factors, we decided to move closer to my work, out of the big city and into a smaller country town, which required of us time to search for a home that would accommodate our new needs. Once we settled, the baby-related stuff began to pile up: appointments, classes, shower lists, nursery preparation…

Becoming a mom

Turns out I have lived these 9 months with all the ups and downs of being pregnant, but not having much time to sort through it in writing. It would have been worth it, as I now cannot remember clearly the details of the powerful experiences I had. I really wish I could. They are part of the mom I am becoming, as well as the wife and teacher and everything else I am turning into.

Yesterday, talking to my mom, she said one of her wise sentences: “You do not become a mother when you give birth. You become a mother the moment you embrace growing that little baby inside your body.” That is SO true! The shared experience, all the changes, the foreign stuff that we feel, the laugh surges and the tear ones, the pulling of ligaments and the growing belly… Such an intense relationship developing! Such a marvelous one, too!

The focus

One of the most amazing things I have realized was that being pregnant is not always comfortable, but being excited enough about it made me focus on the reasons for the discomfort and led me to embrace it as part of our development – mine and the baby’s – rather than keep my attention on my own body and self.

After living through it, and after all the classes and the conversations I hope giving birth will also allow me to focus on the process and on my little boy coming to share the outside world with us rather than what it will make my body feel.

Posted in life
March 28th, 2013 | No Comments »

35 weeks

That’s how long I have been pregnant. I have been loving every step of the way. That is not to say I had no discomforts, or pains, or worries. I had all that. Currently I am dealing with reflux and heartburn.

These feelings and sensations and physical responses, however, are so minimal when compared to the wonder of developing a little boy inside of me; a little boy that is the combination of my husband and I; a little boy that makes me laugh or smile with every move, and makes me tear up to the thought of holding him in my arms.

Goodbye, Hello

I am a month away from taking my leave from work. It took forever, but I have finally found a substitute who will continue teaching the kids that became part of my life this year. As hard as it is to leave them, I am looking forward to the 25th of April, when I will say goodbye to them so I can say hello to my little baby boy.

The kids ask me if I will bring my baby to meet them, and as much as I want to say “Yes” to make them happy, I feel I will not want to leave the house so soon. Right now all I want to do is cuddle with my belly and my husband and not even think whether there is a world outside or not.

Life between Spring Break and the new school year

We have been doing exactly that during this Spring Break, and the thought of going back on Monday for another month irritates me, especially knowing I will be leaving so soon. Where do I get the energy to teach one month?

My other concern refers to the fact that school starts over again in August, and my baby will be only 3 months old. Who on Earth is ready to leave their baby at such young age? The pain hits my chest like a dagger when I think about it.

Carpe my diem

To get over that first hill, the best idea seems to be using my Summer School experience and plan a one-month course; a focused, intensive month, with a beginning and an end in mind, and the advantage of knowing the students beforehand.

As for the second issue, I have come to think that the best approach is denial, or splitting. The way to not stress about the parting, I think, is to not think about it until it happens. Or at least until August happens. Like I have mentioned before, over the three years I have worked in this district, I have had three different assignments. Who knows what awaits me in 2013/2014? Maybe I should carpe my diem until the time comes to confront reality again.

Posted in Education, life
March 8th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Language and Feeling

On Monday I once again introduced new words to help students communicate their feelings. This time, I am working with Intermediate ESOL Kindergarteners. More than my 2nd grade English Only students, these children’s language limitation is influenced by two aspects of their lives: English is their second language, and they have only been in the world for 5-7 years.

When I asked them about feelings, three adjectives came to the table: happy, sad and mad. Even after I introduced ‘angry’, they still called it mad.

Naming and Feeling

However, more than the language teacher, the idea that children – or adults, for that matter – resort to three single words when referring to their feelings bothers the Psychoanalyst in me. It makes me think of the enormous range of feelings that are being boxed into three categories and not being fully experienced. And it makes me think of an anecdote my mother tells me from when I was very young: I think it was my first day of school, and I told my mom I did not want to go. When asked why, I answered: “I have a stomachache”. “Duchinha, she said, what you are feeling is not stomachache. It is anxiety.” I was probably about 3 years old when ‘anxiety’ was introduced to me as a name for the stomachache I felt when something new and somewhat scary was about to take place.

For most students I work with, that stomachache remains a stomachache, and the child often stays home, not dealing with the anxiety and missing important learning experiences – both from school and from the possibilities that naming our feelings opens in our lives.

Not Seeing, Not Feeling?

During my Masters of Arts in Teaching at George Fox University,  one of my instructors shared her experience with students from a population similar to the one I work with. Rather than shallow feeling recognition, however, her kindergarteners had a rather limited perception of their possibilities for entertainment. According to her, the question “What did you do this weekend” always yielded with the same “I went to the park.” No depth, no novelty, no emotional engagement or learning.


She began a study in her classroom using Cynthia Rylant’s “Night in the Country” to explore all the wealth of life that exists in the field around a home in the country, and the sounds that can be heard, which represent such life.

 

Learning and Feeling

After bringing children’s attention to how the author uses her senses, she urged her students to do the same. The result was a brilliant, sensitive compilation of experiences from her kindergarteners. I am positive that those children found a new perspective for their weekends on the park.

Hopefully, by the end of this week my students will understand a little better the differences among anxious, worried, angry and frustrated.

Posted in Education, life
August 24th, 2011 | No Comments »

Guidance

Not sure I have written about the amazing guidance I got from my Reading Specialist team last school year.

Yesterday I had a brief breakdown, shaken off by my not-so-tactful-but-well-intentioned-sometimes-effective husband. The momentary panic happened because I felt thrown in a situation in which I am expected to do something I do not feel completely competent at. No scaffolding, no gradual release of responsibility, no questions asked. Just the expectation to be adult, professional, and capable – and, after I pleaded, a promise of support when needed.

Reliving

Then today I saw the Reading Ladies back in last year’s school – where I still work half the day. And I remembered when I started teaching reading as part of their team last November. In a flash I relived the anxiety generated by doing something of high responsibility for the very first time. And I felt again grateful for how observant they were of my delicate moment, leaving some breathing windows throughout the day between groups, discussing each group and child with me, supporting my practice, allowing time to observe them at work, patiently answering not-so-smart questions I asked all day long. They were true mentors, and I learned the equivalent of several years of graduate school in those seven months.

Gradual Release of Responsibility

My year was not all breezy. As soon as I mastered the demands I had on my plate, they served me a chunkier scoop, adding challenges in the form of number of groups, types of students, and schedule changes. By the end of the year I felt more of a peer, sharing with them most of the burdens and joys, and having my experience validated and respected.

New Year, New Demands

I am thrilled to be challenged once again. And looking back to this experience I realize I can succeed. I can succeed because I have a solid education, because I have a strong will and character, because I am in a district that supports professional growth, and because I am surrounded by competent teachers, coaches, support staff, and principals. All I need to do is say “Yes” and ask for help when needed – and stop wining already.

Posted in Education, life