A Girl Could Get Used to This
I’m a self-professed nerd. I don’t wear a pocket protector, or have tape across the bridge of my glasses. Reading isn’t really a hobby; it’s more of a necessity. I read pretty much anything and everything, from the back of the shampoo bottle to Gray’s Anatomy.
I’m a perpetual student. Not in the classic sense – I don’t attend classes. However, there’s a special satisfaction that wells up inside me after I’ve learned something; I love to learn for the sake of knowledge. This is why I read.
I believe that my love of learning is what makes me a good teacher. I teach high school science – physical science, biology, environmental science, and chemistry. My deepest desire for my students is for them to relish that feeling of success that comes from learning something, to become so addicted to it that they constantly strive to better themselves, that they never become complacent. Even deeper than that, though, is my desire for them to apply that fervor to their relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ, to constantly strive to become more like Him.
I live for those “Aha!” moments in my classroom, that defining moment when I can see the light bulb switching on above their head, and their eyes light up with understanding. Sometimes that’s a direct result of something I’ve said or done, but my very favorite times are when they’ve sweated through a problem or misunderstanding for as long as it takes to GET it. Then they look up with pride in their eyes, and the surge of adrenaline that accompanies the “I did it!” makes them want to do more. I celebrate those moments with them; I shout and clap and dance and sing for them, but sometimes only on the inside, depending on the personality and motivation of the student.
I’ve taught for seven years and never taken a summer “off”. I’ve taught summer school or worked. In the summer of 2004, I had our son, but I was so sick afterward that I don’t really count that summer as “off”. Even after he was born, I worked or took classes during the summers.
Until now. This year, I remembered that one of the reasons I wanted to teach is that I would have time off with our children. This year, I had my own “Aha!” moment. We have a son now, and that time that I always dreamed about is here. I get to have time off with our son.
I’ll admit that I wondered how I could compete with his playschool in terms of friends to play with and activities to do. Could I really keep him happy at home? I had no intention of finding a zillion things to do in order to fill every second of every day. After all, that wouldn’t make much of a vacation for me. My life is scheduled to the minute every single day during the school year. There was no way I’d do that to myself during the summer, too.
So… I’ve slept in until 6:45 or 7:00 every morning instead of getting up at 5:00 and leaving before the rest of my family is even awake. I’ve made breakfast for my husband every morning and packed his lunch. I’ve gotten early morning cuddles from my son, those sweet, sleepy, heavy, warm cuddles, just after he wakes up, every morning. I’ve colored pictures, rolled play-doh, put together puzzles, blown bubbles, watched movies, swam in the pool, and read books by the dozen. I’ve planned menus, purposefully gone to the grocery store, hunting down the best bargains, instead of dashing through grabbing something quick to eat, and cooked dinner most nights. I’ve caught up on laundry and thoroughly cleaned the house. I’ve not been too exhausted at the end of the day to spend quality time with my husband. I’ve not felt guilty for not doing laundry on Saturdays when family is here.
I’ve also realized that those same “Aha!” moments I’ve cherished with my students are ten million times more powerful when I experience them with my son. I refuse to feel guilty about it, but I wonder how many of those moments I’ve missed because he had them at playschool. I know I’ll never be around for all of his light bulb moments, but I’ve really enjoyed experiencing more of them this summer.
I’ve realized that those same desires I have for my students – to succeed, to take pride in their work, to strive for greatness – run ten million times deeper in my heart when they’re passionate desires for my son. I want to be around more to help ingrain those characteristics in him.
This summer has been like a hit of a new drug, and I’m addicted. My catch phrase has been “A girl could get used to this.” I tell that to my husband every morning when we’re eating breakfast together. We do have plans for me to stay home when we have our second baby, hopefully next summer, but it almost can’t come fast enough.
As passionate as I am about my teaching, I’d give up my classroom in a heartbeat. I like to think of staying home as just getting a new teaching job. One at which I feel slightly unprepared, but still fully capable. I’ll learn as I go, just like my first year in the classroom.