Today, I was on a roller coaster. Not literally, as my 8 year old would say, but metaphorically (and yes, he knows the meaning of both those words).
Had a couple of "okay" days, so I was feeling pretty good as I headed to the preschool for day 2 of substitute teaching. Dropped off the boys at school, where both are running for student council in their respective classrooms. I've told them both that no matter the outcome, I still think they are totally awesome and we'll celebrate them running good campaigns, with no outlandish props to help them along.
The day at the preschool was uneventful. "Uneventful" equals good in my life, especially in the past two months. As parents began picking up their children, I could feel the roller coaster begin to take a swerving dip. I'd been "rolling along" pretty good, no bumps in sight up until that time of day.
But the dip continued downward. A parent brought in a bouquet of fresh flowers, along with a lovely card. I knew better than to read it while either she or anyone else was still in the room. As I read the card, I felt the familiar hot sting of tears begin to drip down my face (there's a reason I haven't worn mascara on my lower lashes since mid-July). How can such carefully-chosen, loving words send me over the edge?
The card & its words, I will cherish. I have made life-long friendships with these parents who have entrusted me the past years with their most precious assets. I take my teaching role very seriously, since I've been on the other side, handing my boys over to teachers in similar situations.
I left the preschool a blubbering mess and headed for home to regroup before picking up my boys. As I drove the short distance to the house, I came to the realization that I am not ready to re-join the workforce. Not anytime soon. Maybe never. Andrew & Ben knew it, even when I tried to tell them that this was a special circumstance, for only 3 days. They told me, in no uncertain terms, that they did not want me to work, they want me at home. Selfish? Maybe. But you know, I think a 9 year old and an 8 year old may be smarter than mom in this circumstance.
They knew instinctively that I wasn't ready to give that much. Because I can't do anything half way, and teaching young children requires your entire heart. My heart needs to heal. And until it does, the majority of my time, energy, hugs, and love needs to go to two children....my own.
At the end of the day tomorrow, day 3 of substitute teaching, I retire. Maybe not permanently, but at least for the next few months. I was planning on retiring at 50, but 48's sounding better and better all the time. I am lucky that I have the option of stepping back. I can take the time I need. I can pour all of my heart and love into two boys that are hungry for attention. Boys that miss their daddy rough-housing with them all over the floor (they say they can teach me, but I'm doubtful at this juncture). Boys that hopefully have had enough time with their Christian daddy and have enough of his DNA to carry them through (with alot of prayers and work) the next few years. Because they are spectacular right now, and I don't want to screw that up :)
The roller coaster levelled out and I was able to pick up my sons with a smile on my face, great exclamations of glee, and bear-sized hugs.
I'm stuck on this ride. It jostles me around, bruising me in the rough patches. It has definite highs and lows. There are times that I feel the wind in my hair and the sun shining brightly on my face as I'm ascending. Then there are the drops and spirals that turn my stomach and make me wish to be anyplace else but here. The descents are the worst. Those are the times I cry out, "When I am weak, You are strong".....
But at least I'm not alone. Can you imagine riding a roller coaster alone? When we were at Six Flags three days before Mark's surgery, we were all primed to ride "The Titan"....AJ and Mark were seated behind Ben & me. The workers wouldn't let me ride with my fanny pack on! I had to decide, leave the fanny pack unattended, or leave my son without a riding partner. I was torn....finally I waited at the side, and the roller coaster took off without me. I'll never forget the look on Ben's face. Even though his dad & brother were right behind him, there was no one beside him that he could hold onto.
Thankfully there's Someone by my side that I can hold onto. God won't abandon us, no matter how bad it gets. There are countless friends riding along with us, in front and behind. And although I don't imagine that this bumpy ride will end anytime soon, I have hope that time will help to at least even out the highs and lows.
Because I live for the day that I am healed enough to have love "left over" to give away.