Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reality Check


Deep breath.

This is a call to remind yourself that you do this because you love it. You have been doing this ten years and that's just about a third of your life. It is as much a part of you as blinking your eyes and breathing. It is what you were born to do. You truly enjoy it, and that's more than a lot of people get to say about where they spend most of their waking hours.

In those ten years, you've tried your best to teach the history of this world and of this nation to about 1,300 students. Some got it. Some didn't. Some don't want to admit they got it, which is a tiny victory. You entered a barely-22 year old who thought she could change the world and was heartbroken to find that wasn't entirely possible. You almost left.

You know now at 31 that you can't change everything, but you can change some. And knowing that has brought a certain amount of peace to some of the heartbreaking things you've seen.

You went to more school at night, on a full scholarship that you worked so hard for, and you earned your M.A. in history over three years of writing papers late at night after going to class after teaching classes. You graduated with honors, without a penny of debt, and it meant just as much as the four years of undergraduate work you did where you also graduated with honors and, thanks to a lot of scholarships and a lot of help from Mom and Dad, graduated debt-free.

You've worked so hard to get where you are. And, as far as jobs go, you have the perfect one. There is not another place you'd rather be, save perhaps the Capitol as a United States Congresswoman.

You are going to have your 27th first day of school on Tuesday because you want to.

You don't have to.

You do this because it's who you are and it's what you worked so hard to become. It makes you a better mommy. Some mommies are happier when they are at home, too, like your own was, and that's perfect. Every one, every time, and every situation is different.

You have this choice.

You just enjoyed two and a half months of time with him and your husband, too, with paychecks still coming in every week. Sure, you could make a lot more doing something else, but you would never, ever, find something with such a good schedule.

Many mommies do not have this choice. They work because if they do not, there is no food and the electricity is turned off.

So, for crying out loud, relax. He's fine. He gets to play and sleep with a few of his friends, and chase them around. He even gave you his first steps this week, just so that you got to see them. You still can go feed the ducks, head to an Indians game, go for a ride, take him for a jog, catch lightening bugs in the backyard, and at least for next week go for a swim. You won't stay as late as you used to in your classroom, and that's okay. The house won't always be clean, and that's okay, too. Sometimes you're not going to be able to cook a nice meal, and that's okay. Lean Cuisines are your friend. Dust bunnies can be your friend.

All of this is your choice, and that in and of itself is such a wonderful privilege.

So go have your first day of school. And stop freaking out about it.

He still loves you and his Daddy more than anything in the world, and you wouldn't trade one choice you've ever made for anything.


jbmmommy said...

Hope you have a wonderful school year. I hope my kids some day have at least one teacher with your passion for what you do. Yes, Bug will fine, kids are amazingly adaptable that way. Great picture, too.

Steve Stenzel said...

I love the second label for your post. I always freak out a little when I have to "go back to school" as well, but I don't have a fun, new little guy at home that I have to leave!

Back to syllabus writing....

Eric said...

Great reality check. It's always hard to make that first separation no matter what it is. Everyone will be fine. All part of growing up....that goes for you too.

Borsch said...

Have a good school year!

tracie said...

you'll make it chica!

it is always good to keep perspective but as much as you contemplate and worry, you always come out on top and better than before!

hang in there, you'll get into a groove and things will seem like cake!!!

Alili said...

Great post Sara. Have a wonderful school year! JayZ has a very inspirational and passionate mommy-lucky boy:)

Trishie said...

That's a wonderful post --- my mom is a teacher (has been for almost 40 YEARS) and worked full time when my sister and I were growing up... and we turned out semi normal ;) Everything will be fine -- you wound like a great mom and a great teacher!

TJ said...

Congresswoman! Wow!
My wife is a teacher also, so I can somewhat relate what you go through with the new school year beginning. Hope you have a great year!

Rural Girl said...

You have made good choices and all is well in your land because of those choices.

Rae said...

Have a great 1st day!! (Our schools have already been back for 2 wks! CRAZY!!!) I'm always so jealous of teachers and the nice break they get every year, I would love that!