Part of me wants to shout "Freedom!!!!!" Braveheart-style, but I know it's really not about that. I'm going to have a whole lot more responsibility on my shoulders very soon.
Still, I do feel like a huge burden has been lifted this evening (though the weight of my baby belly is still hanging around!).
Today was my last day teaching students this semester. Bittersweet, because I will miss the busyness and bustle and the "aha!" lightbulbs that go off every once in a while. (Today, I was rewarded with an "aha" moment from one of my students when she "got" the meaning of a poem she had been struggling to understand. Yay!)
I wish I had a camera with me today, if only to capture one particular moment. Two students who had been struggling with their grades (we have grade reports every 3 weeks--they had failed the first one) finally brought their grades up to passing-- one girl in particular brought her grade up almost 30 points in 3 weeks! One boy, a slight, blond-haired young man with a wicked sense of humor, had been particularly frustrated over Romeo and Juliet. Well, when he saw his grade was a C, he jumped up and did this crazy silent victory dance around the bookshelves (we were in the school library, after all). His redhead friend joined him when she saw her B average, and I doubled over with laughter at the sight of these two freshman kids, gyrating and raising their hands in the air, boogeying to their own imaginary music through the stacks in the non-fiction section.
So, even though I begin my maternity leave with the relief of knowing that there is absolutely nothing I have to worry about concerning my classroom--there is a competent long-term substitute English teacher in my place who actually has an M.A. in the subject, I actually completed preparing ALL my lesson plans and assignments for the entire rest of the semester (which, alas, never happened before now), and I graded my last set of assessment tests for a long, long, LONG time to come-- there are still days when I will miss snapping fingers after a poem recital a la the Beat Poets, discussing the sexual orientation of Shakespearean actors ("You mean Juliet was played by a BOY?!") and creating Langston Hughes/MLK Jr. conspiracy theories ("He totally stole that Mrs. Redd. Hughes had the dream first!"). I will miss my many-windowed classroom with a view of the courtyard, with the turtles that somehow manage to remove themselves from the lily pond before it freezes over in winter and the chorus of frogs you can hear on a spring day with the windows open. I'll miss the new program that came with our new textbooks which formats and scrambles original tests for you and prints out multiple versions at the click of a mouse. I'll actually miss the cafeteria food (they served my favorite meal today-- real chicken fingers, homemade vegetable soup, a baked potato, steamed broccoli, pears, and chocolate pudding for dessert) and especially the cute little lunchroom ladies that always served me extra "for the baby." I'll miss the wonderful folks I got to work with, teachers who are so dedicated that they work late hours even on weekends without overtime and support staff that go the extra mile. I'll even miss the students.
But there is one thing I will never, ever miss-- waking up before dawn with the dreaded hope that there could be some sort of snowstorm or natural disaster or electricity outage or gas shortage making it possible for me to stay home from work because I just don't want to go to school today.
For my new job, I won't have to leave the house or worry about being late. I have a feeling it won't matter much if I never get a day off because of a freak lightning accident or a rat infestation or an Atlanta version of an ice storm. I won't mind the poopy diapers and spit-up and other bodily fluids (at least the odor can't be worse than smelly gym feet mixed with an illegal stink bomb and a heavy dose of cheap perfume) because they will be the product of someone I love more than any other kid in the world. I think I'm going to enjoy my new occupation as a concierge/chauffeur/deliverer of milk/custodian/chef/launderer/diaper service employee/finder of lost things and reader of children's books. I think I'm going to enjoy just being a mom. Hooray for parenthood.