Lasts, Endings, and Beginning Again

Right now, I should be entering grades, writing (very late) lesson plans, and designing the final exams that I will be giving the week after next–in order to put together study guides, I need to know what’s on the exam, and with graduation next weekend, I’m not going to even attempt to tell myself that I’ll put together the tests next weekend. I know better.

This coming week is graduation prep for Beth and winding up the year for me. My to-do list is somewhat long, but I’m not feeling pressured; it’ll all get done, even with me taking a moment to write. I want to reflect on all the ending, all the changes–but at this point, the combo of things that need done and emotional….fatigue?….blunt my reactions. I want out of the classroom, and I don’t believe that I’ve been good in it for two years. I can’t point with pride to much I’ve done in the classroom–academically or as it relates to specific kids since MI ended. Parts of this year have been as dead and anxious for me as the worst of the old school years. Would it have been different if I had known I wouldn’t be replaced until next year? I don’t know. My attitude about that could certainly have colored the year. But it’s not that much different than last year, and I can’t name any teacher I’ve talked with that would even call the year mediocre. I have to remind myself that I had good years–excellent years–and try to hold to them as my memories of teaching.

And Beth is graduating. For 18 years, my mornings have included her getting in the car with me to go whereever she had to be before my day started. Her first day of kindergarten is still so heart-stopping clear to me. We got in the car, her with her backpack and smile–a bit scared, but she’d met her teacher before and been in the school for speech therapy many times. I took her to First Baptist, where she’d get breakfast and walk over to school with her daycare teacher and a few other latchkey kids. She went in with no issues, hugged me and we talked a bit, then I left. When I got to the car, I cried. Sobbed. While watching my watch, because I had exactly 3 minutes that I could fall apart, then I had to swing past the house to get Megan (first year of high school) and Chris, who was starting his senior year. 3 minutes to cry. There’s a poem in there somewhere. By the time I’d traveled the few blocks to get them, my eyes were clear and if they could tell I’d been crying, they didn’t mention it.

And now, I’m at another major juncture, and I don’t seem to have any tears. Very little joy, either. Just another to do list, just another time when I know I’ve fallen short, but have to cross my fingers, light some candles, and have faith that it’s all going to work.