All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
Reading this quote shook me up. I have spent years and years of juggling college with taking care of my home and family. During that time I took a year off of school because the boys needed me to be 100% available to them and, while I have never articulated it to myself or anyone else, school has always come second to what I need to take care of at home. Not in a my family comes first way - everyone I know feels that way - but in a 'I can quit school anytime because it is a hobby compared to taking care of things at home' sort of way. When people asked me what I did, my answer was always that I am a SAHM - although I hate that term and much prefer 'Home Executive' or 'Queen of my Domain'. My role as a student came second; "Oh yeah, I'm in school too."
But recently I was asked what I did and I answered "I'm a teacher". And immediately was overcome with sadness, or maybe more accurately, grief. My life has changed so much in the past year, changed in a deep, fundamental way, and my role has changed forever.
For almost fifteen years I cared for Grandmother. She also cared for me, especially at the beginning when my babies were small, but I took her shopping, to appointments, and at the end, made sure her medical needs were taken care of. Now she is gone and I spend a lot of time wandering around the house doing nothing while thinking about all the little things I miss doing for her.
Daughter getting her driver's license was another pivotal change for me, although I didn't realize it until a few days after the fact. She went to a friend's birthday party and came home without me having to drive her. She picked her brother up from tennis practice the next day because I was at work, learning more about being a teacher in the school I am student teaching at.
The boys do their own laundry, they took it over after Grandmother died without even asking me for help or to do it for them. She had done their laundry ever since they could remember; Thing 1 on Mondays and Thing 2 on Thursdays. As I watched Thing 2 fold his clothes the other day I had to go into my room because I started to cry thinking the completely ridiculous thought that he doesn't need me any more.
Don't get me wrong, I am glad my babies are growing up and becoming independent. After all, that is the whole goal of raising kids. And while I miss her desperately, I am glad that Grandmother is not in pain and suffering the indignities of old age anymore. But I need to allow myself to grieve the death of my old role, my identity as a SAHM, as I move ahead to my new identity as teacher, wife, and mother of increasingly independent teenagers - soon to be college students and adults.
I have floundered this summer, not getting a lot done and spending hours doing nothing but thinking about the past. Reading the quote from Anatole France made me realize what has been going on, one life has been dying as I prepare to step forward to my next life.
I am a teacher.