"Is she in there?"
"I think so. Should we knock?"
This was part of the conversation from my fellow teachers outside my classroom door the morning I returned to work, two months after the birth of my first child. My locked classroom door. I managed to get into the building with no contact with others, cover my window on my door, and lock myself in for a good cry. I did not take separation from my baby very well. I called my husband and told him I just couldn't stay. He called the personnel office and asked about my leave options. Then, he called Mama. "I know it's hard, Joey, but you have to let her face this; she just has to do it."
Later, when I talked to Mama, she told me how she felt when she took me to my first day of school. She said leaving me at that poor, old south Louisiana school building was one of the hardest things she ever did. She said she cried the whole way home. Mama always had tears in her eyes on the first days that would follow. She was always watching for the bus, ready to greet me. She loved the summer because I was home and couldn't understand why mothers said they would be glad when school began.
But she still sent me. And she was still a passionate supporter of public schools.
I have never felt closer to Mama since her death than I did today.
After home school only, today was the first day of public school for my daughters. And I cried all the way to the adoration chapel after I left them. Jesus was the only person with whom I wanted to speak and I avoided most text messages or calls until I had my time with Him. The rest of my day has been consolation, encouragement, support, and love. Thanks be to God!
It's been a great first experience with public school. I will post later about the specifics involved in this change for our family. For now, it is enough to say that our priority is always to do what is best for our children and for our family as a whole. After about eight months of serious consideration, deliberation, and discernment, this move seems to be the best for our family right now.
It has been a time of tremendous blessings. Friendships have become deeper as dear women have prayed for me, listened to me, and shared their own journeys in determining the best education options for their children. One friend, whose children attend the same school, even arranged a tour and meeting with the principal in June. Today, my phone was busy all day with texts, calls, and Facebook posts from friends letting me know they were praying for us on this first day, telling me that it will all work out, and just asking how things went.
We hit the jackpot in terms of teacher assignments. I cried watching C's teacher as she spoke to C. I also cried because E missed out on this kindergarten experience that I could never duplicate at home. It has value. It has a place in our society. E's teacher seems to be a perfect fit for her personality and learning style. The nurse has been incredible with her attention to E's allergy and health issues. The girls were excited and rushed me out the door this morning. They were still excited and ready to go back tomorrow when I picked them up this afternoon. I was ready for my children this morning and this afternoon. I was ready to just focus on them and make the most of our family time together.
Today has been a first for me, also. For the first time since I became a stay-at-home mom, I have some much needed structure in my schedule. I have to check the kids' folders, wash the thermoses (thermosi?) and make sure they've laid out clothes for the next day. I have to get up early. Laundry has to be ready and organized. At first, I felt that I have been a spiritual failure since I was not able to institute structure and discipline for myself and my family. Over the past few days, though, I've realized something. Monks, nuns, parish priests--their basic discipline and structure comes not from within themselves, but from without. Their time is scheduled by their superiors or in the case of parish priests, by their parish & diocese schedules.
The recurring theme of my Catholic faith: "It's not all up to me." It's beautiful that there is an institution staffed with people who are there to support us in our child's education. There are people there who see our children without parental bias. People who can spark creativity or inspire self-discipline. It's just another beautiful example of God's ways and his desire for unique lives and families. Thanks be to God for His blessings and the many forms they can take. Thanks be to God for our public schools--places that may be imperfect and flawed--but places where miracles happen every day despite everything working against such hope. Miracle places--for our little miracles with whom we have been gifted for a short while.
|The kitchen sink is a sort of font for holiness (or opportunities for holiness).|