Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The chapter is coming to an end.

In some of the hardest words to ever pass my lips, I have begun to share that I am leaving my classroom.  I’m leaving the place I’ve called home for twenty years, the colleagues I’d do anything for, the kids I’ve shared my life with.

There are many reasons for the decisions, some much more apparent and public than others.  It was the strongest, most personal reasons that pushed me to leap.

I never dreamed in a million years that my love would be stolen, my passion hijacked.  I never dreamed that on that day when I walked out of my classroom for the last time it would be for any other reason than retirement.

This has been coming; one of those feelings in your bones that you try to deny, shove down, but it keeps sneaking up on you.  More and more each day I had been coming to the realization that perhaps my journey is supposed to take a turn that I hadn’t expected for reasons I hadn’t imagined. 

Breaks are always those breathing, healing times for teachers.  You finally get to rest catch up on laundry, pull down the cobwebs that you hadn’t seen building, and if you’re lucky enough you may even have time to wash a window or two.  But it often is time that brings reflection and it was during Christmas break that I knew that things had to change.  An overwhelming sense of peace washed over me, but I only had the courage to share with the Hubs and a few, close friends.  Of course, rather quickly the terrifying sense of “what next?” when my passion is teaching and my heart is in a classroom. I waited for the next step; nothing, nothing, nothing. 

Mid-winter, a text comes through from Dear Boy.  It was only 9 PM on the west coast, but this Momma sat straight up after reading “Are you awake?” at midnight (Am now!!!!!) in the east! My response, “What’s wrong?” – always a Momma Bear!  He assured me it was nothing with him and was everything with me.  Dear Boy went on to tell me that he had an overwhelming sense that something different was coming my way and I should keep my options open.  I was speechless, not because he was texting about me (and not asking for money or food!), but that the things he had said were almost exactly what I had felt a few weeks earlier and hadn’t told my kids.  ‘Round these parts we call that a “God wink” and I couldn’t help but take notice.

Months went by and still nothing, but I didn’t lose hope.  I was feeling so defeated that I had to keep my sanity by believing there had to be options.

Unexpectedly, a one year position, with potential for longer, was posted within our district for a “techie” ..... hmmm, dabble in that in my “free” time, still will be involved with classrooms and students.  I decided to inquire and then throw my hat in simply because it was an option, but after I did I actually allowed myself to get excited and think about possibilities.  Things went quickly; interviewed within days of my inquiry, was offered the position, and sat on it for several days.  Spent many days considering, talked at nausea with the Hubs and a few, close friends about the opportunity.  But something pretty cool happened and I hadn’t realized the impact of my decision until it was the eve of “d day”. 

Typically, you hear horror stories about teenage girls; I can’t join in on those because I have been blessed.  Believe me, our family is far down the road and out of town from perfect.  I’ve realized over the past few years that I have a strong woman in the making and couldn’t be more proud of her strength, kindness, compassion, and great head on her shoulders.  As I talked about this possibility, I realized that Beez was getting more and more involved with the conversation, watching, and listening.  After opening up the conversation with Beez among other profound and truthful things she said, “Mom, you won’t know unless you try.” 

It was then that I knew I had to take this leap, this opportunity, this chance.

I have to do it for myself; I’m a shell of who I was just a short time ago.  There are days I don’t recognize myself.  I miss being creative and innovative.  I miss collaborating and getting feedback.  I miss having intense philosophical conversations and being challenged in my thinking.  I miss learning , researching, and gaining new insight from others (so I'm encouraging myself to pursue an advanced graduate degree!).  I miss having a voice. I miss making a difference.

I have to take this leap for my own kids.  I need to live by example and show them that sometimes taking a chance like this is scary.  I need to show them that it’s okay to make a change that may or may not help move you forward.  I need to show them that life is a journey with peaks and valleys.  I need to show them that it’s okay to be strong and to have faith in the unknown, but more importantly faith in yourself and in your own strength. 

I go back and forth with emotion; I’m excited to start a new journey, but it’s tearing off the Band-Aid that hurts.  It’s feeling like I’m turnign my back on my kids and parents, my colleagues.  It’s taking the quotes down from the walls, it’s packing up every last tchotchke from each little hand that placed it in mine, it’s finding years and years of letters from grateful parents that made me cry then and will make me cry once again, it’s turning away from a classroom that I have loved more and more each year I’ve spent there, and it’s saying goodbye to some of the most wonderful students and amazing parents I have ever met.  

It will be the change in friendships that I fear most; I have been blessed more than I ever imagined working with teammates and fellow teachers that words cannot convey. They have changed my life and been part of shaping who I am; they have put up with my ideas to push boundaries and have been incredibly supportive in life’s changes, struggles, and celebrations.  They’ve been part of watching who I once was simply fading away and have been my encouragers and biggest cheerleaders in taking on this new chapter.. 

In my heart I know, it will be the last goodbye, the last hug, the last click of the light switch and last turn of the key that will do me in.

As many teachers are counting down to the first days of dusting, vacuuming, catching up on laundry summer, I am apprehensively waiting for the first days of a new life, a new dream.  I know my days in my own classroom are dwindling, but I have to keep focused on the excitement of that new dream (um, remind me of that in a few, short weeks, will ya?). 

This chapter has ended and I don’t have the SparkNotes for the next, but what I am certain of will not surprise any who truly know me:  
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly imagine how far one can go.” T.S.Elliot    

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