Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When Did I Start Saying "I Can't?"

I was raised in an "I can" home. Somehow, we all knew that if we wanted to do it, we could. If I have an idea, it usually isn't long before its being implemented. Something takes hold of me, and I just think it through and get it done. I like this about myself. And in a lot of ways, I still am this way. I watch the progress we are making on our backyard, or a new project I've started with my students, and I know that I CAN achieve whatever I set my mind to.

But I've also started to realize that, in other previously strong areas of my life, I am always telling myself I can't do it. I am friends with two other teachers at my school who are both younger, prettier, skinnier, and cooler than me. I love both these women so much--they are, in some ways, what I used to be. They are just cool and fun. The kids love them. One is recently married and the other is getting married next month. Neither have children. They remind me of the kind of teacher I was about four years ago. Back when I was thinner, funner, crazier, and full of energy and optimism about my work. I know that as I get older, I am losing some of that youthful energy I once had--both as a person and as a teacher. But seeing these two women really brings it all to the forefront.

I used to get up in front of people and sing or dance, laugh, with no reservations. I used to read the announcements in an accent. My class was a comedy routine every day. I used to make up funny tricks to play on other teachers with my students. I used to be a good dancer--I used to be confident about my ability to move my body and make it do what I wanted. I used to just do crazy things, and my students loved it. Yesterday I was cleaning out my back room, and stumbled upon the 2004-2005 teacher group photo. It was my first year teaching. I was 26. And I was so CUTE. My hair was cute, my clothes were cute, my shoes were cute. I was about 30 lbs thinner. I had totally forgotten about that person.

Recently its like I'm getting a taste of it again. Yesterday we took our kids out for a fire drill and we were out there on the field for a long time. My kids were bored. So I threw candy at them. Then I made them do the wave. Then I told this girl that if she did her front hand spring, I would do a cartwheel. I just did a simple round-off--first once since I had my babies--but I heard about it all day long. "Mrs. Rees--I heard you did a cartwheel!" and "That was the funnest fire drill we've ever done!" And I'm kind of thinking, "That was nothing compared the crazy crap I used to do." Why did I stop? Why did I start saying I can't?

I've lost something of what I once was--it's been drowned in the stress of having children and being "tied down" all the time. Don't get me wrong--I love my kids with all my heart--but I think that once you have kids, you get so used to saying, "Oh, I have small children. I can't do that," that you really start to believe it--and apply it to just about everything. Anyway, that's what I've done. My kids are my eternal excuse for everything. Weight gain is another one--packing around 30 more pounds changes the image you have of yourself. But would losing weight really give me back that person? Well, I'm sure nothing can bring her back, but to get a piece of that again would be fantastic. Is it even possible?

When I was a kid, my mom had a Reba McIntire CD she played over and over. There was one song that I never quite understood the point of the lyrics. It never made sense to me. That's because I was a teenager. Now they are crystal clear:

Is there life out there? So much she hasn't done
Is there life beyond her family and her home
She's done what she should, should she do what she dares
She doesn't want to leave, she's jsut wonderin is there life out there

I don't feel like I should change the choices I made--I would make them all again. But I have gotten so sucked into my quiet stressful happy little world that I have left behind those parts of me that are not absolutely essential for survival, but also made my life and my work so much fun. I want to lose weight. I want to dance. I want to be just a little bit crazy--I guess I just really want to WANT those things--want them enough to actually make a change and then do them. I have recently started eating right and exercising again--for the first time in two years. Its part of why I am noticing my frumpy clothes, extra pounds, and tired lines around my eyes. I've let myself go. I still have small children, and I still have to say, "this is not the time in my life where I get to do _________." But there is still so much more I CAN do. So much life out there I'm missing. I don't want to lose the fun parts of myself that made my husband fall in love with me. The part that I see Afton developing as she dances around the livingroom, sings songs, greets complete strangers or performs for people. Is that something you CAN get back? Or am I just too old? Come on. Thirty-four can't be THAT old, right?

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