02 03 Notes from the School Psychologist: I Need More than Inspirational Poster of Woman Scaling a Mountain. 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

I Need More than Inspirational Poster of Woman Scaling a Mountain.

As many of you know, I recently made a person. One of the things that I didn’t expect about pregnancy is that even after having a baby, I would still look pregnant for many months. I thought that maybe after 3 months post-partum, I’d be back to my normal shape. Ooooohhhhh no. When Baby B was 3 months old, I decided it was time to do something about it. I was determined. I took the advice of this mommy in my mommies group to try out The Dailey Method. For those of you not familiar, it is basically a core focused class that seemed to me to be like if pilates and ballet had a baby. Women I know have sworn it is the best workout on the planet. So I decided to try it out. I was fairly confident I could handle it, as I worked out my entire pregnancy, 3 days a week, before work. I know! Ridiculous.

I arrived to find my mommy group friend had picked the same class to attend. Hurrah! We would be fit yummy mummies together! The instructor was a perky lady with perfect hair and she welcomed me to the class. I mentioned it was my first workout after having my baby and she exclaimed gleefully, “Ooh! I just had a baby too!” This women looked like a fitness model, so I figured she had a baby a while ago. Turns out our babies were the same age. I hated her. But then again, maybe it was a good sign that she had rock hard abs already. It did make me feel like a 400 lb Schlumpelufagus though. And as I looked around the room, it seemed like I was the only one who wasn’t modeling professionally for Lululemon athletic wear.

Anyhoo, needless to say, the class was a disaster. Everyone knew what they were doing and I was desperately trying to keep up. The instructor just kept yelling out things I didn’t know how to do or could no longer do—“Tip your hips! Tips your hips! Bend! Squeeze! Lift!” I ended up doing this awkward thrusting gyrating movement in an effort to tip my hips. It was not cute. There were no modifications for someone with a jelly core. I peered over at my mommy friend, sure I would find a kindred Schlumpelufagus, and the woman was doing the full splits like it wasn’t hard at all. I started to tear up a little. I couldn’t do anything right. I felt everyone was pitying me. The instructor was moving so fast, I couldn’t get any help. It was the longest class of my life.

After the class, the instructor said, “You did such a good job!” and I felt like she was lying to me. She asked how it was for me and I welled up with tears. I sniffled, “I feel weak—physically and mentally--like a weak person.” I told her I couldn’t keep up and didn’t know how to do what she was asking. It was too fast paced. She was genuinely surprised. Then, I was annoyed at her. How could she not see me floundering around like a dying fish on the floor for an hour? I left. I got an email later with an apology that I had a bad experience, offering me a free class to try again. That was 3 months ago and I haven’t stepped foot in that place again.

I can totally see why some kids with learning difficulties give up easily. It is so hard to be the one left behind, the one who doesn’t get it, the one who feels dumb for not getting it. And it's not like my success in life depends on fitting in my pre-preggers jeans, whereas learning to read is pretty fundamental. As a school psychologist, I give the persistence speech all the time. I always say that the brain is like a muscle and you have to keep working it! I tell kids a mixture of mistakes and success is how you learn! And with older kids, I tell them the research on persistence and grit—that it may be a better predictor of success and high grades than IQ scores. Persistence is, after all, one of the “success attributes” for students with disabilities. However, after my experience, which is a fraction of the cumulative effects of struggling to learn, I wonder now if I should start with empathy about how hard it must be and THEN moved to the persistence speech.

So I’m thinking that I should walk the walk, show persistence, and get my jelly core back to the class. I have been slowly working on my core in the privacy of my own home (Baby B and I both do Tummy Time together—she works on pushing up and I do push ups. Then we both face plant on the floor and cry). I’m feeling a little stronger physically. It will just take the mental strength to go back to the place of shame, where I cried in public because I didn’t know how to tip my hips and was too weak to participate in most of the moves. It would just be so much easier to avoid it. If only I had a school psychologist I could go to, who could encourage me to persevere. She would tell me I will get better with each class. And maybe, just maybe, she would tell me this with a backdrop of a poster of a woman climbing a mountain or something inspirational, and I would believe her.

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