Those of you who know me know that I am one of those lucky people who loves her job. Yes, I love having the summers off, and yes, the long vacations in December and March are pretty great. But even when I’m still in my classroom at 6:00pm (after having arrived there at 7:00am) surrounded by tests I have yet to grade, homework I have yet to return, and emails I have yet to respond to, I love my job. Even when I am exhausted to my very core, sure that I cannot face another day reminding 12-year-old boys to stay in their seats, raise their hands, tuck in their shirts, take notes, turn in their homework, be nice, put their napkins on their laps, stop talking, keep their shoes on, find a pencil, stop throwing paper (I swear I also teach math at some point), I wake up the next morning and smile when that first boy walks into my classroom and greets me for the day. Every September, I am charged with educating and caring for fifty to sixty children who are not my own, and I do it gladly.
This year, heading back to school is a little bit harder. When I walk out the door to tend to other people’s children, I am leaving my own behind. Henry, Jack, and Sophie cannot yet interact with me the way my students can(nor can they talk back!), but they are mine. They are mine every minute of every day for the rest of my life, through every 3:00am crying fit and through every smile, and every moment I spend in my classroom is one more moment I miss with them.
So tomorrow, when I head back to work, the inevitable excitement that accompanies the start of every new school year for me will be mixed with some other emotions. I am certain my new crop of students will keep me entertained and keep me busy, and I am eager to begin the year with them. But I also know I will be leaving a little piece of me behind each morning. Perhaps it will teach me to let go of the little things (will it REALLY matter if the new lunch menu doesn’t get printed?), to get home a little earlier (the tests will still be there to grade tomorrow), and to stop thinking about my students long after they have gone home for the day (they have their own parents, after all!). But whatever happens, I am sure motherhood will have already changed me a bit. With any luck, I will be a better teacher this year (if a bit sleepier). For I know that being a teacher has made me a better mother, and whatever happens tomorrow, I am so grateful that I get to be both.
Happy start of school!