May 30 was our teacher work day, and last day of the school year. It was a bit anticlimactic, with a few meetings, a very nice luncheon, and visiting with my new teacher friends. When I left the building later that afternoon, instead of doing the Texas Two-Step, I sat in my car and paid a couple of bills via phone. Then I drove home and took a nap. No fireworks, champagne corks popping, or getting on a jet to Cozumel, although I did make burritos later that evening.
Other teachers have their summers pretty well planned out. “I’m going to play chauffeur,” said one mother of five, listing all of the stops she’d have every day for the next three months. Others were going on annual trips to visit the in-laws in South Carolina, cleaning the basement, coaching volleyball, teaching their son to drive, taking the kids to Disney, going to Vegas, or staining their deck. The retiring art teacher dreamily talked about her upcoming trip to Hawaii.
Four years ago, when I decided to go back and get my teaching license, I swore that the day after school was over, I’d be on the first plane to Europe or South America. So, as you can imagine, sitting at the computer eating cornflakes at 8 a.m. may have come as a bit of a shock to my hopes and dreams. The reality is that I’m paying off bills from when I wasn’t employed while I did my student teaching and field experience. For that, I’m grateful. Our insurance coverage is to change in a month. Several teachers complained about their doctors not being part of the network. For the first time since I have had my own insurance, in about 20 years, my doctor is part of the network. For that, I’m grateful. Not going away, but paying bills makes me grateful.
“What are you going to do this summer?” they’d ask. “I’m going to redo my curriculum for Spanish 2, 3, and 4,” I’d say. The other teachers would kind of look at me as if I was an idiot (which I have never denied), and like I’d just arrived in Sin City, fresh off the bus from Topeka. They’d smile and nod their heads. In reality, I do plan to have that done over the next six to eight weeks. However, I do want to enjoy what I’m doing now: listening to the birds, feeling the morning breeze, enjoying morning sunlight, sleeping in until six or seven in the morning, and going to bed an hour later and fall asleep reading the books I’ve put off until the summer. I’m going to make a lot of phone calls and send emails in the next couple of days, to set up time to spend with friends and family I’ve missed seeing on the weekends. That, to me, is the most exciting thing I’m going to do: reconnect with the outside world.
Everyone gave me the First-Year Teacher talks about sickness, feeling overwhelmed and then burnt out, and all that they said came true. However, life goes on all around me, outside of the classroom. People do live their own lives, not in the tiny teacher world of mine.
Those nights of getting guiltied into stemming strawberries (like Memorial Day), snapping beans, or just going down to the family farm and visiting with my parents don’t seem so bad, although I don’t know how they stack up to Carolina beaches or the Vegas Strip. I did inform my family that in no way shape or form, would I help with any kind of baling of hay or straw, or running for parts, twine or sileage bags. I would, however, be happy to share in driving my nephew to and from his new job, and happy to host movie nights for him and my niece.
I keep reminding myself that a year ago, I was frantically looking for work, dreading each day of the search, learning to trust in God and live on next to nothing, in humility. That time brought me closer to Him and for that, I’m grateful, just as I am for this year of tried-by-fire learning.
So today, when I finish, I’m going to go rent several “B” movies, pop some popcorn, and just enjoy the first day of reaching one part of His plan for me. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and say, “Now what, Lord?”
And return the movies, before I rent new ones.
Published: June 4, 2012