My wife and I sit on the couch doing our best to relax, but we both brace for the work week. Tomorrow is the first day of school. There will be lot’s of smiling and crying; the “busy-ness” of the first day.
Kaitlyn sits next to me clicking the remote to start the next episode of Lost. She said tomorrow doesn’t feel like the first day of school. Kaitlyn is a preschool teacher too and tomorrow marks her fifth year teaching. Although there will be many new faces, she’s confident that she’ll slip right back into the teaching routine.
I’m a veteran too but tomorrow I’m a rookie.
Monday isn’t just the start of preschool but graduate school as well. I have class Monday and Thursday evenings. Kaitlyn has them Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. It’s a very busy schedule leaving little time to be together. We joke on how we say our good-byes on Sunday nights and we’ll see each other again on Friday. We laugh about it but only half-heartedly because there is truth behind the next 16 weeks. However, we both feel it’s important to get higher-level degrees; at least for me.
As the Lost episode ends with the usual cliff-hanger moment, Kaitlyn picks up her phone and does a little research…
Kaitlyn: What about Liam?
Me: No. That makes me think about Liam Neeson.
Kaitlyn: You don’t like any of the names I like.
Me: I like some of the names, they just already have a history with me. I can’t help it.
Kaitlyn: All of the names you like are from 80’s.
Me: Okay… your point?
Kaitlyn: Samantha, Jessica, Melissa….
Me: All nice names.
Kaitlyn: They’re from a long time ago.
Me: Okay, we’ll choose a modern name. But we’re not naming our child after a fruit, planet or automobile company.
Kaitlyn continues looking through her phone for more names and their meanings. I go back to preparing for the first day of preschool. It’s our usual Sunday night routine of television watching, Internet browsing and preparing for Monday. However, come March, our Sunday evenings will change. Every day of the week will change.
We’re having a baby and nothing changes or prioritizes your life faster than having a child.
Back in July, when two pregnancy tests convinced me we were having a child, it took me 20 seconds to process all the changes that would happen. We were both happy but I guess I went into typical “soon-to-be-father” mode. I thought about how we were moving from a two-person family with two incomes to a three-person family with one income. I thought about how we needed to find a bigger place to live. I then got a fear – a good fear – that I was wasting my time thinking about everything and not moving. I feared I was wasting the present moment.
We didn’t tell our families until a hospital visit confirmed the pregnancy. Everyone was thrilled, as this will be the first child and grandchild for both sides of our family. There was a lot of cheering, smiles and tears of joy. Shortly afterwords, we told friends, school staff, and everyone else. Everyone agrees that we’ll be awesome parents. Given that we’re both preschool teachers, I hope we have a head start on parenthood.
I share this because when tomorrow starts and I greet all of the new children and families, I will have all of these thoughts in the back of my head: baby, relocating, continuing school, making ends meet, paying off debt, etc. It’s a responsibility that I literally feel on my shoulders. However, all of those thoughts take a back seat. I will need to be present for the children, staff and families. For at least eight hours I focus on being a center supervisor and all of the responsibilities the position requires. I’ll take a break in the evening to eat dinner and then go to night class from 7pm to 10pm with the hope that, when I get home, my wife is awake and we can spend 10-15 minutes together. Then, when she is asleep and I’m sitting in my living room, I can revisit my thoughts on my future family.
It’s a balancing act that many educators face; temporarily shedding all other responsibilities to be present in classrooms. Every part of me wants to go all out on planning and preparing for my child, but that will have to wait. Being present tomorrow is the priority at hand.
By sleep, prayer and energy drinks,
Bring it on, the next 16 weeks!