I have a master’s in secondary education with a specialty in special education. And I thought I was done with school forever because if there was one thing I had learned my first go round, it was that going to grad school and teaching special ed and working extra homebound and evening school and being sad about the state of my existence was really hard. Lop of that last one and it was still hard. Happiness didn’t make homework get done any sooner.
And then something weird happened, and the man related to me by marriage [hello, TKLittles] indicated that he liked it when I was ambitious and involved in my own life and doing my own work — which seemed nice in one way and totally odd in another because why didn’t he want us more intertwined and spending time together or maybe he didn’t mean that and he only meant he liked my work ethic and he doesn’t even remember now what he said, much less what he meant. Regardless, because, as if by magic, soon after he said that somewhat enigmatic statement, I received an email at work about a new grad program that would allow me to work toward my administrator’s licensure and also allow me to work toward an Ed. S. in School Leadership. Woot! All I had to do was apply, take out yet another school loan, and do lots and lots of homework designed for someone who works in one school. Awesomesauce!
But then, less than a month before classes started, my dad died. And two weeks later, my oldest son and his wife and my daughter moved from being a couple of miles away to over a thousand miles away. But I’m strong and super sassy, right? I can do this! I can start classes anyway. But the first day, when I sat through eight as in 8 hours of classes in a really uncomfortable chair, I started having a really bad feeling about all this. All these projects were designed for me to observe, be working in, doing leadership-focused assignments and projects all involving my actions in my school. EXCEPT I DON’T WORK IN ONE SCHOOL. I meet at every and any school in our district that has a student in state custody who is eligible for spec ed services. I do not interact with the same staff on a regular basis. I am a loner, working on cases that are important to the kids and teachers but only matter to my bosses when a mistake is made, keeping my own calendar, and seeing none of my lead staff colleagues for days at a time. I am a tiny ice-rock satellite on the furthest orbit possible from the central office sun. So although my work allows me to see all the different schools in our district and observe the differing administrations, it was not allowing me to interact in ways required by my homework. And even though the professors were trying to be flexible and give me ideas of alternative work-arounds for the assignments, it was becoming ridiculously complicated trying to get my homework completed. My brain was starting to freak out a little bit. Or maybe a lot.
Plus, I was feeling terrible, but thought it was just the stress of trying to settle Dad’s really messy affairs and missing my kids and starting a new school year. But no, it turned out that I was sick. Really sick. As in having emergency surgery and staying in the hospital for a week sick. Seriously — a week in this hospital, in this day and age where they kick you out the same day you have surgery. But the infection from the ruptured appendix and perforated lower intestine was a stubborn one: abscess, drain insertion issues, problems with the IV necessitating that it be moved to a new section of my arms and boy did that get old, and being almost totally alone all day every day because of my husband’s horrible manager… Whew, did it suck? Why, yes. Yes it did.
I bombed out. I hadn’t finished enough homework in one class to get an official incomplete but they did allow me to officially withdraw, and they also allowed me to apply for the winter semester. Because I’m better and I can do this! I can figure out all the weird work-arounds required, I can finish the assignment from the first semester and salvage one of my two classes, I can take courses in the summer and get this this done and be proud of myself and be yet another super well-educated female known for being smart and dedicated to kids and helpful to her colleagues and involved in the community and all those good things.
Instead, I failed. I tried hard, but I failed. My life is NOT harder than anyone else’s, I am not worse off than anyone else, I am grateful for the good things and people in my life and I know I am oh so lucky in so many true and important ways. But I needed more than I could give. And all the kind help being offered was not enough to get me to a place where I could complete the projects and assignments and do all the other things, like be a new grandmother (I am called Gangey, just like on Arrested Development) and work with two homeound students and deal with the fallout from Dad dying and me still not being quite healed up right and the teenager we have guardianship deciding to do something really horrible that ruined some deeply important relationships. I just flat out failed.
I failed. I wasted time and money and resources. I. Failed.
And now I’m trying to come to terms with how disappointed I am in myself and still find some meaning in my work and in my life and realize that failing is part of my existence and yes, others are better and stronger and smarter than I am and God bless them for being so. I am not special, I am instead someone who fails. But I am also someone who keeps going, trying to take care of the small things within my grasp, and encouraging and loving those who can do more.
Failure can be endured and learned from, failure can be a blip on the screen, seen by only a few, forgotten by everyone except yourself. So, the lesson is to keep trying and don’t worry so much about failing because probably it’s going to happen somewhere sometime. And, I still love you anyway.