As of late I have been grappling with the gains and losses that come with change. I knew when I enrolled in the master’s of arts in education program at Pacific Lutheran University, my family’s lives would drastically change.
No longer a stay-at-home mom, I missed out on the lazy summer days with my boys as I sat in all-day classes and spent my evenings writing papers and preparing mock lesson plans.
I thought summer would be the hardest, but I was wrong. The summer went by quickly. There were fewer trips to the park and outings to the beach. Breakfasts were more rushed and were of the cold cereal and yogurt variety instead of the eggs and bacon or French toast meals the boys were used to. But we made up for it by having more family BBQs and making the most of the time we had together.
And then suddenly it was the first day of school. Cody headed off to second grade. Carter, the baby of the family, proudly strolled into kindergarten, and I began fall semester.
I fought back the tears and swallowed the lump in my throat the first time I dropped the boys off at before-school care and began the short drive to the elementary school of my year-long student internship. I worried about their long days and how they would tolerate them.
As I drove, I could not stop thinking about what I would lose as I transitioned from being a full-time mom to becoming a teacher. I ticked off the losses in my head: no more lazy strolls to and from the bus stop, no more volunteering in the boys’ classrooms, no more attending field trips or holiday parties. I felt a sense of panic start to rise up over me ,and I had to work hard to turn those fears and worries off as I walked into the first-grade classroom where I would be introduced to the students as a teacher in training.
It didn’t take long for me to become engrossed in the day’s activities. I worked hard, putting the correct names with the faces of each student and watched with awe at the delicate dance the teacher performed, a ballet of instruction, encouragement, gentle correcting and guidance.
The first days of school set the tone and create the foundation on which classroom behaviors, expectations and community are formed; it was quite the thing to watch unfold.
Right from the start I was involved in the day, helping guide and give direction for the morning work, to walking a group of students up the stairs and down the hall to the parent pick-up location at the end of the day.
To say that I did not think about how Cody and Carter’s day was going would be a lie, but within the confines of the classroom and the comfort of routine, the worries faded and the losses that caused my eyes to tear up just hours before seemed smaller. I knew that Cody and Carter were involved in their own routines, learning important rules and creating their own foundations for a lifetime of learning.
At some point in the day, an inner sense of calm overtook me and I began to tick off the gains in my head: a new career I was passionate about and believed in, a greater sense of self, and the opportunity to be a good role model for my own children, showing them that it is never too late to go after what you want and one is never too old to love learning (not that I am saying I am old, mind you).
I know that this next year will be a tornado of activity. There will be rushed meals and meltdowns, late nights and long days. I will miss pieces of my boys’ childhood as I go forth into a career that will provide me years of fulfillment and enjoyment.
Losses and gains still weigh on my mind, but I am more accepting of the losses having the counterbalance of all those gains.Nancy Magnusson is one of five reader columnists whose work appears on this page. She lives with her husband and their two young sons just outside of Gig Harbor. They enjoy focusing on the simple things in life and taking the road less traveled. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.