Around 5:30 this morning, as I was feeding Evelyn, I had the thought hit me that if life had gone as I planned it would a year or two ago, I would be anxiously getting ready for my fifth “first day of school” today. Of course, life rarely goes “as planned,” does it not? And because it was early enough in the morning, I quickly brushed away the thought.
At 8:55am, I was getting Evelyn’s medicine together for her acid reflux while she was starting to scream in the background, and it hit me harder than I thought it would. 8:55am is the first bell, starting the first class of the first day of school, and I wasn’t there. I always looked to that bell with so much excitement; I always was so nervous and excited to meet my new students and see what the year would hold (probably more nervous and excited than many of them were!). I was at home, in my pajamas still, waiting for an update on whether our AC could be fixed or not while taking care of my new baby.
There’s always so much potential that first day. A promise hanging in the air of all the things that we would share and learn together.
You can tell me that I’ve got a better job now, and I would agree. After how brutal last year was for me, staying at home with my baby girl is a wonderful change. Just as brutal in some ways, but better, more purposeful, so I don’t mind it that much. I am on my own schedule, with more freedom to raise my child the way I see fit; freedom I could never have with “my” children in the classroom thanks to district and state lists on what they thought 7th graders should be capable of learning. And let’s face it: changing diapers and onesies takes a lot less brain power than grading 130 papers.
But still, I will miss it. I hated those school bells because they limited the time I had with my amazing students, especially last year when we only had 50 minutes together instead of 90. But I’ll miss those bells. I’ll miss the amazing teachers I got to work with; sharing and learning information and teaching styles with them.
Most of all, I will miss the bright, creative, fun, amazing students that I was able to meet every year. For every “bad apple”, there are always more students that can make the classroom a fun, happy place to be. Often, without realizing it, students could teach me, too. I’ll miss sharing favorite stories and poems with them; the exciting and deep realizations students could have in class discussions. I’ll miss their humor, too. There’s nothing quite like the humor of a room full of 7th graders.
Will I be able to go back to teaching one day? I don’t know. There’s many reasons I am relieved that I am not in a classroom today. Being a parent has been the hardest job I have ever done, harder than being a teacher, and still I am content to stay here with my child for now.
But all of those reasons still didn’t stop my heart from having twinges of longing for that first bell of the school year.