My First Year without a 'First Day'

     Yesterday my alarm beeped at 6:45 a.m. Groggily, I made my way into the kitchen, sleepily turned the coffee maker on, and looked out across the misty morning. It took that long for it to hit me. It was the first day of the new school year. My grin spread wide across my no longer sleepy face. Energy rushed through me. Yes, I was awake, but an hour later than 'normal' for this day. I was up in order to meet a friend out at Brighton State Recreational to ride my awesome horse through the early temps and still freshly spider webbed trails of Michigan.
     All I heard last spring were the warnings of people of how I would be so sad when this day came. As I poured my coffee and made my way to the front porch, I enjoyed my leisurely coffee breakfast as cars on the way to work and buses on the way to Mason Public Schools roared past. I felt like the Grinch must have after he saved the sled overflowing with Whoville's Christmas.
     After a beautiful morning of riding, it occurred to me that Mason students were already done with their half first day. There was nothing looming overhead for me to worry about, no last minute administrative issues pressing me into extra hours at my desk, no lessons to plan, etc. I went home, unloaded my mare, danced my way back into the house, and had a bite to eat.
     Grueling my body through an intense CrossFit workout later in the day, I had energy. I drove home and it struck me again, the differences between last year and this year. Last year, after the first day with students, after having already put in at least 80 hours in classroom prep, I would have been exhausted. I might have dragged myself to a workout, but it would have been after a nap, or worse, without time for a nap, and absolutely without the necessary reserves needed for an intense sweat session like the one I had just completed.
     Here's the thing that most people simply cannot understand: Teaching is exhausting! Even on a good day, when everything goes right, when not one of the students in your care has an emergency, when all the technology runs smoothly, and nobody cries or screams or loses something, teaching is exhausting. It is all consuming. At least, if you're doing it right.
     I did it right. For all 30 of my years. I gave my students everything I had in order for them to achieve every goal they could reach.
     Most days, it didn't leave time or room or energy for much else. I wouldn't change my life as a teacher. I will cherish every hug, every shared story, and every joyous moment. I have taught kids to read and write. I have held them when they sobbed tears of loss. I have stood up to them in the face of their anger, and fought for them when nobody else did. Teaching brought me memories I never could have dreamed of when I started my first classroom. Nobody can prepare you to be a teacher, not really.
     So last night, I smiled at my husband, knowing I could stay up as late as I wanted even though it was a school night, with no last minute preparations for the first full day of school in the morning. I did not set my alarm. I did not hang up tomorrow's outfit. I checked my calendar, did some writing, tried to stretch my aching shoulders and legs, and simply went to bed when I was tired.
     This was my first year without a first day of school to be prepared to manage, and though I do not regret or miss heading into my own classroom, I am looking forward to what the future holds for me now, whenever I might wake up in the morning.


  1. Glad you had a great Not-First-day! You deserve it my friend.


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