For the first time in over a decade I didn't spend August preparing for a new school year. I wasn't job hunting, interviewing, setting up my classroom, meeting with teammates, or planning lessons. For the first time since 2002, I didn't spend a hot August day in a humid classroom hanging up bulletin boards, sorting school supplies, or painstakingly writing out nametags. I didn't spend hours combing the aisles of Target, Ikea, Lakeshore or dollar stores for bargains on classroom decor. I didn't spend sleepless nights searching the internet for lesson ideas and inspiration. I did none of these things that have been integral parts of my August life for years.
September has always been my "New Year." The start of school triggers something in me that many others feel closer to the end of a calendar year. As a teacher, my year ran August-June, with July being a much needed respite from educational demands. September always signaled a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. Without the impending start of school, my psyche has had some difficulty acclimating to the fact that summer is ending and I am not going back to school. For the first time in 9 years* I won't be returning to Room 19 at Long Meadow Elementary. The classroom that has been my home since August of 2004 is officially no longer mine. (*While, I ended up on medical leave the entire 2010-11 school year, I still went in that August to meet with my long-term sub.)
It's hard to describe how I feel about all this. On one hand, (the hand that is constantly asking What If?) the loss I feel regarding leaving teaching is comparable to the loss of my vision. After all they're explicitly linked. You know what I mean, right? "What if I hadn't become legally blind, I'd be a working mom just as I always planned on. Emy would be in daycare and in a couple years she'd attend Long Meadow and life would be grand." (I never claimed this hand was logical or rational.)
But on the other hand, the hand that accepts my vision loss and is desperately trying every day to roll with it, feels an overwhelming sense of relief in letting go. For the first time since Emy's birth, my August didn't include anxiety attacks (there have been many) about how I could possibly balance teaching, vision loss, and motherhood. This hand is looking towards the future and is finding peace in not knowing what lies in store. This hand is eagerly anticipating Emeline starting pre-school, and spending crisp, fall days exploring the world through a 3 year-olds eyes. This is the hand I am clinging to.
So here I am, September just days away. Cheers to new beginnings. .