I am so grateful to be at home.
I love seeing how the sun falls in the breakfast room in a silent house at 2 p.m. on a September Wednesday.
I love having the laundry done, so that kids who dirtied their uniforms only yesterday have them spanking clean and ready to go today.
I loved being on Emma’s field trip to the Eno River yesterday, just going along for the fun of it and to be helpful, and not — this time — being completely responsible for everyone.
I love not being exhausted when it’s time for Will’s soccer game. Or Everett’s cross country meet. Or Emma’s volleyball match.
I love having time to write notes on my children’s lunch napkins.
I love those bedtime conversations, which I am suddenly so much more free to have because I don’t have a raft of papers to grade or a class to prep for or an early morning meeting.
I am so grateful.
And last night– Parent Night at our school– I could attend as Pure Parent and not, as has always heretofore been the case, as Teacher. I didn’t have to get up in front of everyone and welcome them to my classroom and my course, and describe our syllabus and rationale, and guess without reading nametags whose parents I was talking to because of the family resemblance.
Until last night– until recently– I had always felt more like the Teacher at our school than I ever did the Parent.
I know people who Love Change. There are rumors of them, certainly, and I’m pretty sure that all those people bungy-jumping and drinking Mountain Dew in the television commercials are of their ilk. They are beautiful and have great teeth, and they are always having a good time. I’ve actually met a few, too: people who declare, “I love change,” and then go on to sing its benefits. They always seem so strong to me, those people, so healthy and hale.
I am not like them.
I am, instead, a look-over-her-shoulder kind of girl. Maybe you know the type? Maybe you are one?
Change is good. It’s very good, even vital. It promotes growth; it’s an indicator of life; it means development and even, one hopes, improvement.
But it doesn’t always also mean that What Came Before was bad. What Came Before was sometimes, even often, good, too. Which is what makes the decision to make the change Just So Difficult sometimes.
Last night, watching my colleagues express with mastery and humility, joy and humor what it is they teach and why they love it and their students, I missed it all. I missed my classes and curriculum, my classroom. I missed the ringing bell and the debate about whether we ought to have bells. I missed the joy of opening worlds for my students: Gilgamesh’s world and Odysseus’ world and the world of the biblical Jacob. I missed our writing rubric and helping my students find their argument, and the joy of seeing them discover how to develop an argument in papers short and long. I missed our discussions. I missed my students. I missed my (former) colleagues.
There may be teaching again in my future. I rather hope so. But a school, like so much else, is a river.
And Right Now is so good. Right now– life here at home– is a river too. I am grateful to have time to pay attention to it.
But for a person who doesn’t love change, then what we have here is just a quiet recognition of that fact. And it is also, more importantly, a quiet recognition that what I did before now– teaching all day in the halls of Trinity School— was So Good, Too.
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
-Robert Frost, “Reluctance”