Eight

It hit me last night, hard, like a punch to the solar plexus: I have eight days of teaching left in my current district. One full week of regular classes, three days of semester tests. Eight days, one of which I’m missing the afternoon for to watch my oldest participate in Field Day.

Eight days left, after eight years.

Honestly. I’m not okay.

I know this is what’s best for my family. I know it’s what’s going to be best for my mental health. I know that my children will be better off because of this move.

But, the grief. Oh, the grief.

I’m leaving behind three classes I’ve worked with. There is (last I heard) no applicants for my position. I don’t know who will be teaching my kids next.

And they are my kids. Even if I’m not here, they’re still mine.

I hope whoever comes in after me sees them for what they are, for who they are. Comes in and laughs at the fact they’re a little weird sometimes, celebrates their growth and milestones with them, lets them talk about what they’re afraid of, hopeful for, struggling with, loving.

I hope, whoever they are, they love my kids.

Because I do. And leaving them is breaking my heart.

The hardest part of teaching, the hardest part of teaching in a small district for eight years, is that you create these relationships with people who aren’t really yours. They’re mine, but not biologically? Ya know?

I spend four years with these kids. Celebrating, laughing, crying, grieving, growing, teaching, learning. Sometimes, I get hugs and familiar greetings when they come home. Sometimes, they reach out via social media or text. I’ve gotten wedding invitations, attended baby showers.

Leaving means…someone else gets a chance to create that with these kids. And I hope, beyond all hope, that they recognize how lucky they are to have that chance.

These kids, the past seven classes included, are fantastic. And annoying. They’re strong, resilient, intelligent, funny, kind, mean, awful, stubborn. They’re humans.

Humans.

And sometimes, as teachers, we can only look at them as students. People who file into a room, listen, learn, and leave. And yeah, that would be easier than getting emotionally attached.

But…they’re human. They deserve people who become emotionally invested in them. They deserve for people to recognize they’re going to fuck up, and help them grow and move past that.

Eight years is nothing in the scheme of things. For most teachers, eight years is just a blip. But, today, it feels like a lifetime.

I know moving is the best thing for us, but that doesn’t make this less heavy. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have had these eight years.

I imagine the next eight days will involve tears. Hopefully, some laughter, life lessons, hugs. Self-reflection, and brutal honesty will likely accompany the rest as well.

Eight years. Eight days.

I hope that each and every student I’ve taught realizes how they’ve helped me learn and grow. They’ve shaped me into the teacher I am today. They’ve also had a hand in shaping me into the mother I am. The person I am.

Sometimes, I think I’ve learned more from them than they ever have from me.

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