This has decidedly been an interesting ear for me. After thirty-three years of teaching this is the first time I have not been in on the end-of-the-school-year hoopla. I find myself in a very bittersweet frame of mind.
I loved my job. The smell of new text books, the eraser dust on the chalk tray (I refused to transform to the white board phase), the sound of the pencil sharpener, the blank page of a new grade book. the million and one requests to go to the bathroom...
I loved it all.
It was that bathroom thing that got me in the end, though. I thanked God daily that my classroom was right beside the girls' bathroom because I spent most of my time there. And I often paid the consequences for slipping out in the middle of class. You just do not leave twenty eighth graders to fend for themselves. But I had no choice. It was either blind trust that they could hold it together for a minute or two, or total public mortification. Unfortunately my public mortification might have been the best choice; at least according to my school administration.
Incontinence is not easily explained to folks who have never experienced it. In fact, it is impossible to explain because there simply is not enough time. As my disease has progressed my incontinence has become an alarming issue. I no longer have much warning when my bladder empties. If there is the slightest tug, I drop everything to get to the bathroom. If I am in an unfamiliar environment, I usually do not make it in time. So, I stay close to home.
I really do not mind this, as I am a home body by nature, but it often fringes on my family's plans.
Of course, if I do not hydrate often there is the absolute possibility of dehydration, which leads to UTI, which leads to doctor appointments and medication, which leads to no milk in the fridge because mommy had to buy drugs. It is just an ugly mess, but I usually do not have time to explain all of this because I am in the bathroom or in route to that place.
I often think about characterization, but I am not knowledgeable enough on that topic to understand how self-cath works. And it is scary. And I am not supposed to be scared. I am Mom, Wife, and Queen of my domain. It is my job to be in control. Right?
So, I just quietly adjust my time and schedule with as little explanation as possible. I no longer attend university football games, much to my husband's displeasure. But his brother bought my season ticket, so there still exists a tailgate pal. I recently declined an invitation to join friends for a fundraiser four-wheel poker run. It is 25 miles and I figured there was no room for the suitcase of dry clothes that I would have to bring. Travel terrifies me so my husband's dream trip to the Grand Canyon no longer holds any appeal for me. And I could go on and on.
But I will not, because SCHOOL IS OUT FOR THE SUMMER.
My baby boy will complete his freshman year in high school today.When he walks through the front door this afternoon, Alice Cooper will be chanting that age old ballad from my Bose speakers. For thirty-three years, that is the song I played on the last day of school. In my early years as a high school teacher, I blared it from my car stereo on the way out of the parking lot. In those days I had a t-top sports car and everyone in town heard my departure. Then I became mature and only played it at a modest decibel with the windows open. In my final years of teaching, Alice sang behind closed windows with the AC cranked.
Never-the-less, today is a day of celebration. And bittersweet nostalgia.
I miss my job, but I have the memories. I wan't forced to retire. It was a much contemplated decision and I believe I made the right one, although I really kinda wish I was there right now. I know exactly what my eighth graders and colleagues are doing today. Eighth grade scavenger hunt is a ritual on the last day, but then the faculty meetings begin to finish out the semester. Hmmmm...
Yep, I have the memories. That's good enough for me.
So, when my high school freshman (He won't officially be a sophomore until August, will he?) gets home at 3PM, Alice Cooper and I will greet him and our summer will begin.
I can't wait!
But, for now, I am headed to the bathroom.
Have a good weekend!