This time of year is always hard for me. Sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks and I am a wreck. Other times, like this year, it has snuck up on me. Once we get into the swing of things, I’ll be able to breathe again for awhile. But these first few weeks are hard.
I should be in my classroom tonight greeting my new students at open house. Smiling warmly and shaking hands. Eager to begin a new year. Instead I’m working a dismal 9-5 with no future and no A/C.
I used to love back to school shopping. The smell of fresh new paper and the excitement of a brand new pair of scissors. All the pens and pencils and colors. The whiteout and sticky notes and folders and dry erase markers and glue. Stocking up for the new year. All the fun shapes, colors, designs. Now I avoid those aisles.
I remember spending hours as a little girl in my mothers classroom playing teacher. Setting the desks up and walking the aisles as if I was giving a riveting lecture and drawing on the chalk board. I remember spending afternoons as a teenager working with after school programs and summer programs and tutoring. Laying the ground work for what I hoped to become. I remember spending years to get my degree to actually become an educator and walking that stage eager to begin the life I had always dreamt of. And I remember walking the hallways and classrooms as a Ms./Mrs. and doing my best to make a difference in every child’s life and giving it my all.
I sit here today with tears streaming down my face knowing that I will probably never make another bulletin board or concert program. I will likely never get to call a classroom mine again. I will never grade another paper or stand in front of a white board or conduct a choir again. I lost teaching. I lost my dream. I lost a huge part of myself.
Every backpack and school bus and highlighter and cardigan is a reminder of this. Every fall as the kids go back to school and the teachers gear up for another year, I am reminded of this. Every summer that I do not get to enjoy with my children is a slap in the face. Every loss goes unmissed.
I’m fully aware.
And I ache.