Bracelets for Our Brothers
Help Us Bring Our Brothers Home
Confessions of a Trauma Mama
Posted on February 16th, 2017

Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation on the effects of trauma on children to a group of about 60 teachers.  The aim is to inform about trauma and how it negatively impacts children: cognitively, emotionally, physically, socially, and in a myriad of other ways.  Only once we brought our girls home did I understand the depth and breadth of this issue, and, since that time, I have often wondered why this was never part of my coursework in college or graduate school.  Sure, I learned great pedagogy, classroom management, and I even took extra courses on child psychology just because I really enjoyed the subject matter.  But, through three degrees, trauma was never the focus.

To be honest I am scared and nervous about tomorrow for many reasons.  I have presented many times before-- to other educators, to students, to philanthropic groups, at professional conferences.  I am not afraid of public speaking.  But, this is the first time ever that I will be speaking about something outside of my professional content area: music.

I am also nervous about tomorrow because, my husband, my children, and I have decided to be honest and raw.  You see, there would be no presentation tomorrow if I weren't their mother.  There would have been no reason for me to become interested in trauma and to become a voracious reader and researcher on the topic if it weren't for the experience of having two highly traumatized children in my home every day.  Therefore, this presentation was conceived from the day to day reality of raising my children, and because of that, I must be honest in my presentation tomorrow.

I know that when people see our family they have a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings.  I'm not just talking about the random misconceptions we encounter daily in public where someone might wonder why Neil and I are white and my children are brown or why there is such a small age difference between Evvie and myself.  I'm talking about the romanticized notion that we, as a society, have about adoption.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing because it inspires more people to aspire to go out of their comfort zone and adopt, but it is a curse because people don't understand the reality that adoptive families live in many times.

Tomorrow people will hear things about my family that I am embarrassed to admit.  All parents want to perpetuate the facade that we all have our lives under control.  But, I must say these things.  Otherwise the content will be less meaningful. Tomorrow people will hear things about my oldest child in particular that are difficult for me to talk about, but she has told me "mama, you have to tell them because they need to know what life is like for me and other kids like me."  She has given me her blessing and she knows everything I will say.  She only asks that people not talk directly to her about it afterwards.  She knows her story is important, and, for that, I am so happy and thankful because it shows me that she is finding meaning, purpose, and strength in her life.

The most import thing I hope people hear tomorrow is that trauma is real.  Its impacts on the brain and cognitive function are absolutely real and I see it play out in my home and classroom every day.  We, as teachers, are fooling ourselves if we think these are isolated incidents that we rarely encounter unless we work in an impoverished school.  Yes, my children has encountered more trauma in their 10 and 13 years than most kids do in a lifetime, but they are not alone.  They have much in common with many of the students who walk in to my classroom every day.  Understanding my children has helped me to become a better educator, and it has helped me fall back in love with teaching-- a love affair that was on its last leg a year ago.

Hopefully this is just the beginning.  I hope that having a platform to voice my experiences will help me to process and cope.  Maybe one day my children can join along side me and have their voices and stories heard, too.  I know they will be stories of victory, courage, and perseverance. 

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