According to the eyes and brilliant talent of my 3.5 year old, Natalie, this is me. I think it sums things up pretty well. I'm tall, not quite skinny, my hair is frazzled, and I'm likely trying to catch something or someone at any given moment. I'm also a combination of many, many, MANY different emotions and "colors" right now. You see, tomorrow is my last day of school as a first-year teacher. My "kids" will be moving on, growing up, coming back from summer break in a few months to someone who isn't me. My heart is breaking because this year, I gained 80 children between the ages of 15 and 18. I'm eternally grateful for what I learned from these kids this year, but wow, I'm going to miss them!
Through all of my struggles as a first year teacher, Natalie and Caitlin have grown as well. I have watched Caitlin learn to walk, heard Natalie construct full conversations, built a stronger relationship with my husband, and witnessed my family crumble and re-build. I am a patchwork of a woman right now. I crave the ability to sit and read a book, or write something other than lesson plans or data analysis. I crave the wind in my hair as I sit beneath a tree, spilling my soul onto a piece of paper. But I also crave the laughter of my children. I want to sit and stare into their deep, blue eyes and see their souls. I want to hold their hands and kiss their feet, and love them with everything I can.
Knowing that tomorrow will be the last time I will ever see most of my students makes me want to hold onto my children that much tighter. Natalie asks already if she can go to Kindergarten. She wants to go to work with me, and learn about the world. She wants to be "all growm up." The hardest part for me is that she really is growing up so fast. And Caitlin. Wow. That little girl wants to be just like her sister. She watches Natalie intently, and laughs when she does something funny. They share kisses and hugs, and sleep in the same bed. They watch out for each other.
Natalie really watches out for me, as well. I can see the love she put into my portrait on the sidewalk, and I know that she wants to be strong and grown up. Caitlin holds my hand at the end of the day and they put together the patchwork pieces of my heart. Even though my life is held together by the grains of chalk, waiting for the rain to wash away any bit of stability I might know, these girls, my beautiful daughters, still see me as whole. I love them for it.