But I’m A Nurse Not A Teacher


I have had to eat crow many times in my life.  Some much bigger and harder to swallow than others. I once said I could handle anything as long as I didn’t have a child with autism. That was before I had a child with autism. In my ignorance, I thought all kids with autism wouldn’t let you touch them or hold them and couldn’t communicate. My son is articulate and loving and though he doesn’t want others to hug him, gives the best bear hugs in the world. For the record, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I also said I would never jump on the gluten free bandwagon because nursing school (10 years ago) clearly stated only those with celiac should exclude gluten from their diet. 3 out of the 4 in our household can’t tolerate gluten. I’m the mom I made fun of when bringing my gluten free cupcake to the birthday party so my son can participate. Eating crow is better than a sick kid.

I made strong statements about wearing leggings as pants. They are not, and should never be worn as pants!  But then I met Lularoe (I do not sell it and no I do not want to host a party). These leggings are made by angels and fairy dust and have made me rethink my whole life. How have I lived without this silky, soft goodness for 35 years? No worries, I still cover my robust backside and my rotund hips but if wearing a long shirt/sweater with these magical garments are wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

The last thing I said NUMEROUS times in my life was this: “Why do people homeschool? Why do people think they can do the job of someone who went to school at least 4 years to master? I’m a nurse. You don’t come to the hospital and play nurse and I won’t play Teacher.” This is my second year homeschooling my 2nd grader full time.

Homeschooling has been a life changer in so many ways. I have learned more about my son and how his beautiful brain works than I would have ever been able to do otherwise. HE teaches me daily. He shows me the world through a different lens and it opens up beautiful conversations and experiences for both of us. He has taught me how he learns. As I conform to his way of thinking, his mind is able to soar. He literally amazes me everyday. As I’m reading to him, he’s running in circles, he’s rolling back and forth on the floor, he’s picking up anything he can to look at, squeeze, toss in the air. He interrupts me for seemingly nonsense like, “Can we have bacon for breakfast tomorrow?”. He looks out the window while jumping up and down. At the end of the book (a few hundred page chapter book) I ask him cumulative questions for comprehension. He knows EVERY SINGLE ONE. Some of them, I have to look up to see if he’s right. Fine details that I completely looked over, he can recall in vivid detail. The first time this happened, I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “I thought you weren’t listening!” He looked at my like I was so silly and said, “Of course I’m listening! But I have to move a lot or my brain doesn’t work.”

I will never say homeschooling is easy. But my son has excelled in every area as a result. Not because I’m a good teacher, but because I allow his brain to function the way it was created. I want to empower him, for him to feel safe to be himself, and to foster a love of learning. If spinning, running, and jumping off of anything in sight is part of that process, so be it.  I love the flexibility and the times we can stop when I see his brain is saturated for the day. Or when we can go off on tangents by looking up every video and article imaginable on astronauts.  This is something I fell into by necessity, but I am falling deeper and deeper in love with the experience. Some days end in tears, sometimes from both of us. But I will never regret this decision.

However, there’s this one lingering pit in my stomach that I can’t seem to shake.  I AM A NURSE. I am a GOOD nurse with a passion for the mentally ill. I spent 10 years doing something I loved and filled a part of my soul that was otherwise empty. I went to school for 5 years with one goal in mind. When I got to write ‘RN’ behind my name for the first time was one of the proudest moments in my life. That may sound silly, but I believe I was put on this earth to work with psychiatric patients. My family always says it’s because I understand them because, “you are them.” (insert eye roll but also #truth) I love being able to show love to a population that is shunned. A population that is so deeply misunderstood yet is in need of empathy and understanding just like the rest of us.  It doesn’t matter that they will throw every bodily fluid on you (including breast milk…shout out to Green Oaks-Adult 2), call you every name imaginable and then some you’ve never heard of. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen more naked people quoting scripture than I care to remember. I still don’t know what makes psychotic people want to be hypersexual, hyperreligious, or violent. Either way, naked people quoting scripture while throwing a chair at your face need love too. I’ve always been up for the challenge.

Homeschooling, along with our circumstances surrounding our inability to have someone else regularly watch our oldest, prevents me from working at all. I can’t do what I love, what I worked so hard to do. I feel slighted. Like a limb has been cut off but I am supposed to carry on, business as usual. So here I am. Devastated at the career I have lost but positive that God wants me to teach my child at home. How does that make sense??

I am doing a bible study called ‘Captivating’ and I read something today that left me in tears. It talks about a women that had a great education and career with hopes and desires to continue. But then she decided to give up her own life to bring life to her son.  This required more of her heart and soul than she ever thought possible. This is the kicker; “God called (her) to the high position of mothering, and she is choosing to die a thousand small deaths to her self every single day while at the same time falling ever more in love with her son.” And you know what? God is meeting her there. God is meeting me there. He is stretching me and molding me and making me realize that that emptiness can be filled by taking on an irreplaceable role to my son. G.K. Chesterston wrote, “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children the Rule of Three’s, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone but narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it’s gigantic, not because it’s minute.”

So I am trying to rest in the knowledge that seasons change and there is a time for everything. I hope that one day I can return to my first love of nursing. But right now, I have the privilege to help my son grow in the best environment I can provide. To watch his eyes light up with excitement and wonder. To watch a brilliant mind be able to function on different, but beautiful terms. Both jobs I will never regret. But one thing I have learned is that broad, uneducated statements should not be made without research and realizing that each situation is different. Cause, I mean, those leggings ya’ll….

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