Follow Your Bliss (my 100th post!)

I told myself I wouldn’t go over to Kelle Hampton’s blog to see pictures of her rapturously happy and carefully posed family Thanksgiving, nor read any platitudes and sonnets written about the joys of togetherness.  I’m already so nauseated all the time I can barely get through the day.  And while I’m sure that many families look forward to the time they spend together over this gluttonous, exploitative American holiday, I think that a great many more of us dread those stuffy rooms full of the smell of stuffing and bird carcasses, ignoring elephants lurking about.

Now, I know my sisters read this blog from time to time, so let me just say, not you.  You all are COOL.

I look forward to the holidays every year for the same reason all teachers do.  Vacation.  Many years ago, my school district had the wisdom to give us the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off in addition to the Friday after.  So many teachers and students’ families took that day off anyway to travel, nothing productive was going on.  As a result, I now get a five-day break at Thanksgiving, so that has turned this once loathed holiday into a favorite.  Unfortunately, this year my daughter came down with two ear infections, a matching one for each side, on Tuesday night, so our whole vacation has been spent comforting and caring for a very sick and exceedingly needy nineteen month-old.  It’s still better than work.  Most of the time.

Last week, an old high school classmate of mine whom I allowed to friend me on Facebook sent me a private message criticizing some funny (to me) comment my best buddy had made about looking forward to a week off from her students.  It said something about their dead fish eyes.  My old classmate wrote me that she was quite offended and hoped that this TEACHER didn’t really feel that way about her students and if she did, then said teacher should just QUIT!  I told her nicely that teaching high school students is a rough gig.  And telling someone in this economy that if they don’t like their job, they should just quit is pretty trite and unrealistic, not to mention unhelpful.  I mean, sure, in a “leap and the net will appear” kind of world, those of us who hate our jobs should absolutely quit and follow our bliss.  I would love to follow my bliss.  As soon as I can get a job watching television while eating cheese and writing about it for other people (and this job will need to pay at least 60,000 a year) I will hitch my cart to that bliss and follow its ass anywhere. 

But back to Miss Oversensitive ex-classmate Facebook friend.  We teachers say some pretty harsh things about our workday trials.  It’s called blowing off steam.  My students get to write “Fuck Mrs. Odee” on their desks, and since I am not allowed to write “Fuck you, too, and try spelling my name right” back, I have to settle for some other outlets.  My best buddy is a wonderful and beloved teacher who feels intellectually stunted at times by the repetition of her work (how many times could you teach “To Kill a Mockingbird” and still approach it with verve and vigor?  Oh, you loved that book?  Can you teach it every year for fifteen years, five times a day to 170 teenagers who hate every word of it?).  For me, my husband, and numerous other people in my profession, one of the hardest things about teaching high school is how it is compulsory for the students, so you spend all day talking about something you love (English language in my case, literature in my friend’s, math in my husband’s), something you think is beautiful and worthwhile to people who not only hate it, they hate you for loving it and they think you are a loser because you do it.  And they are happy to write that on the desks, the walls, and in your books.

I’m not usually so down on my job.  Before I went on maternity leave for the 2009-10 school year, I taught AP English and College Prep ESL.  I loved those classes.  I loved most of the students.  Two years ago, at the end of the year, I tearfully told my students that I’d been considering a career change, but that they had been such a wonderful group, I changed my mind.  There was nary a dry eye in the place.  It is hard that I had to sacrifice my career in order to stay home with my child for a year.  I came back to the position I’d moved beyond about five years ago.  I’m hoping that in a few years, when my babies (oh my God, I still can’t get used to the plural) are older, I’ll go after my old job again.

“Most people hate their jobs,” my dad told me recently.  I think he’s so supremely grateful that I’m employed and have health insurance and he doesn’t have to worry about me, he’s terrified that I’d walk away from steady employment for some silly pipe dream like writing (which happens to be his chosen career).  If most people hate their jobs, I’m sad for them.  For us.  I guess these are the lives of quiet desperation Emerson spoke of.  Easy for him to criticize.  He had a pretty cushy set-up, that guy.

So, I had a few days off from my job that were overshadowed by family obligations and illness.  I mean, it sounds harsh, and I don’t entirely mean it, but just like God makes me nervous when you get him indoors, my family overwhelms me when they’re all in one place at the same time.  I think many of you probably know what I mean.  I’ve actually found myself looking forward to going back to work and having my daughter go back to school.  How’s that for something to be thankful for?

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18 Responses to Follow Your Bliss (my 100th post!)

  1. BJ says:

    How the heck does KH manage to be so super-organised for every holiday or birthday celebration? She must have a personal assistant to scour Martha Stewart’s website and magazines for decorating ideas, then another assistant to go out and buy all the best candles, baking and craft making stuff. Must be exhausting for her, poor thing.

    So how did Miss Oversensitive ex-classmate Facebook friend react to your response that she was being pretty trite and unrealistic?

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      She backed off on the judgey-wudgey-ness, but held her ground that my friend seemed “unhappy.”

    • MrsL says:

      She obviously gets outside cleaning help. Her father owns a number of vacation rental properties. It would not surprise me if he sent over his cleaning crew over to tidy up dear daughter’s home for a couple extra bucks. When her biggest “every woman problems” in life are simple clutter and some dirty laundry, you better believe she isn’t responsible for scrubbing toilets and mopping dirty floors after one of her daughter’s heavily photographed messy baking sessions.

  2. mrsk6 says:

    You’re too nice… me, I just unfriend/deface/delete, whatever you want to call it.

    I really enjoyed that post. Your honesty is refreshing and your sarcasm makes me giggle.

  3. Trixiebell says:

    I believe I may be acquainted with the offending replier, and if I know her response (and I think I do) she’s always amused by the reaction of non-teachers who express dismay at her cynical observations of the profession. Before she became a teacher, she too thought that all English classes were like “Dead Poet’s Society” or “Saved by the Bell” or maybe on a really bad day, like “Dangerous Minds.” But after over a decade in the classroom, she has come to know that the classroom is a microcosm of humanity. There are happy people, sad people, angry people, and insane people, but mostly there are people who are just clocking in the time doing something they HAVE to do before they can go off and do something that they WANT to do. That’s the hard, cold reality of teaching and of life.
    Congrats on the 100th posting. Looking forward to hundreds more!

  4. Trixiebell says:

    P.S. By the way, said teacher would like to quit or take an extended break, but she has bills to pay and retirement benefits to fret over. If Oprah and all those other bliss following believers want to start a trust fund, said teacher has a dozen or so worthy dreams she’d like to follow. Just sayin’.

  5. MelanieH says:

    Yup. As always Hampton is so predictable. The “hired to pose with us” friends (and they even forced the poor boy, the son of the hired friends, to dress up in babyish PJ’s and pose at a two year old’s tea table) were in position, the full plate of food in front of the older, impish girl, the endless baby shots and her in your face ads. What a life for those kids eh?!

  6. ShannieO says:

    If I followed my bliss, my ass wouldn’t follow me through doorways.

  7. MrsL says:

    OH MY GOD I am so glad I finally stumbled upon someone else not so easily impressed with Mrs. Hampton. You’re crucified elsewhere if you don’t fawn over this mommy blogger du jour. She seems to get two reactions: LOVE HER or OH GOD SHE MAKES ME FEEL LIKE SHIT BECAUSE MY LIFE ISN’T “PICTURE PERFECT.” People, read between the not so subtle lines.

    It’s easy to follow your bliss and suck the marrow from life when you have the luxury of staying home with your children if you want, shooting pictures of them with your $3,000+ camera kit and then heavily editing said photos with expensive editing software to depict the most “perfect” scenes available. She tries to downplay her upper middle class affluence on her blog, but every now and then she slips up and you see the Bugaboo stroller, the child size Hunter rainboots, the nice car, the private pool and hot tub. Her “every woman” appeals to seem real are “problems” like not being able to afford a total master bathroom remodel or having laundry pile up. I mean, I guess redecorating your bathroom to look like an episode of Trading Spaces gone horribly awry IS one way to guilt your husband into caving into a total reno just so he doesn’t have to be assaulted with turquoise spray painted junk every morning.

    I don’t think her having a DS daughter gives her some free pass into sainthood and shield from criticism. She seems to shun the DS community and seems to be in a bit of denial about the hard road ahead of her. And taking pictures of your baby in the hospital with RSV? So you could have some lovely graphic to go with yet another self-affirming story about your own awesomeness? Loving tied up with yet another Etsy giveaway/page view bait at the end? How tasteless can you get?

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      It sounds like you and I have similar perspectives on the subject. You’re right about the being crucified if you don’t fawn over her. I get that a lot here. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  8. Leslie says:

    Thank you Mrs.L. Couldn’t have said it better. Her motive is sheer attention, for herself. I know moms who are true advocates for disabilities and she is not one of them.

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      I don’t totally disagree with you. However, as a result of reading Ms. Hampton’s birth story way back when it happened, I did some research into DS and asked more questions of the Special Education teachers at my school. It wasn’t KH’s website that made me aware of anything, though. To read her site, having a baby with DS is “magic.” I’ve actually met and talked to two of the teenagers with DS at my school. One of them was much higher performing intellectually than the other, so it was interesting to see in such a small sample size how much variety there is. Just like regular people. I think KH’s blog really emphasizes beauty and aesthetics. Surely the comments are always going on about how adorable and beautiful her baby is. So, awareness, yes, but also perhaps some unrealistic myth-making. Shortly after her baby was born, she wrote about going to a DS support group and how she was not the “support group type.” I don’t know what she meant by that, but to ME, it came across as “I’m not one of them. I’m SPECIAL.” But I’m biased.

      • tabitha says:

        hhmmm. I get what you’re saying. It’s funny how people have completely different takes on a subject, and interesting too. Well, I see it as a continuation of the blog she’s always had. Life now just happens to include a little girl with DS. I don’t read her faithfully, but there have been numerous posts with mention of DS but never the main focus. I’m more of the mindset that is just how it should be. I don’t think she should spout off clinical implications of DS, etc. Her blog seems to be an ongoing documentation of her family and friends’ lives together. Her blog isn’t meant to be a sort of webmd site to address those more scientific matters although I bet she has educated herself extensively. Her child with DS shouldn’t be singled out and talked about at every entry. She’s a little girl who happens to have DS, but there will be so much more that I bet people take notice of as she grows. Or, at least that is how it should be. Hampton seems like a really positive person. Sometimes those help groups can be lots of whiney people who focus on the oh, woe is me mindset. That isn’t really helpful to people with DS in this example. I can see where she might not have fit in, and not because she thinks she is special. I don’t know. I don’t read her alot, but that’s my impression anyway. I respect the other viewpoints too! She is about aesthetics, but not in a bad way to me. I like to make my house pretty too for example with little projects here and there. I enjoy it, but I also take pleasure in creating a nice space for my family. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a deeper side to me.

  9. JP says:

    Aren’t all us moms handed an all expense paid vacation to Key West when our kids have had a cold? Poor, poor Kelle. She had to deal with a child who had a bad cold so of course her reward her was yet another another expensive trip since she was so stressed from what? Doing what all mothers do, attending to a sick kid. This chick lives in the land of make believe and her blog is like swallowing ten pounds of sugar (or in her case-artificial sweetener). Blech.

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      Oh, man, I could use that vacation. My daughter has been sick since September, at least two weeks of every month (thank you, day care). I have the virus now, and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since… I think 2008. Lucky for her, her father owns numerous vacation properties around Florida. Not too shabby.

  10. Gen says:

    Hi MrsOdie2, first time commenter

    Ya know, I always gave KH’s blog the benefit of the doubt; always saw her as someone living a privileged life trying to make everything perfect for validation or whatever (and by the tone of some posts, her husband is also a perfectionist, perhaps a little controlling, who knows) but generally harmless. The recent post of her youngest in hospital was the last straw.

    I can understand taking photos of your acutely unwell child in hospital (not really, but then I am an embittered old doctor) but there’s something about the performance aspect – it’s all for the blog – with the perfect depth-of-field so that the hospital tag shows up in focus beautifully, the ‘only’ photo of your baby because you were cuddling her so much, followed by a ‘Don’t worry, we took a vacation (one of the many vacations we never go on because we’re really not that rich, honest!) and everything is beautiful again!’ Oh, and topped off with a little word from our sponsors.

    I partly sat there, mouth agape like a blow-up doll and the rest of the time wondering whether it’s just satire and she’s having us all on.

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      I completely relate to the mouth agape image. I have often looked at this blog and thought, “This cannot be for real.” Sometimes the text is so ridiculously over the top, I too have wondered if she has a little too much Bud Lime and giggles her way through a fake post. “Let’s see what those fawning morons have to say about THIS!” I picture my drunk, irreverent version of KH cackling. But, no, I actually think she whole-heartedly believes in the high fructose corn syrup she peddles.

  11. Sue says:

    Between her never ending pictures of legs and feet (with and without ugly stockings) and her face caked with make-up, Hampton is enough to make any reader ill. What a completely nauseating blog.

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