it's the spring-time of my life.*
Summer is almost over, and I'm getting ready to start teaching again. Technically, by the time school starts, it will have been five months since I really "taught" anything. Yes, when Clara was 8 weeks old I returned to work, but that was for the last week of school, and no one is really counting that as "teaching." I mostly sent Seniors to assemblies, nursed my kid during my free period, and gave up entirely on trying to finish teaching Much Ado About Nothing. Sleep deprivation and Shakespeare do not mix. Judging space________________________.
I really hope teaching is like riding a bike, because I don't remember much about teaching pre-Clara. Except for that I wore lots of leggings and got really huge.
Every year before school starts, I start to imagine Ms. Lauritzen again. Mentally prepare myself to be the kind of person who says "Eyes up here, please," and "Can you elaborate on what you mean?" Ms. Lauritzen does not say "Anymothereffingdamnway."
When I imagine the type of teacher I want to be, I always remember Aubrey, and I spend a moment feeling sad again. Aubrey was one of my final professors at the (Blessed) University of Utah, and she died a few weeks after I took her class, leaving behind two kids and a loving spouse. I'm always sad when I think about her family, and I always tell myself that this year, I will try harder to emulate her teaching style. Her family lost a loved one, but I think her students did too. She taught bravely and kindly, and with just enough sarcasm to keep people awake early in the morning.
I wrote about Aubrey back in 2007. ( Post HERE. Warning: the formatting is really weird on very old posts. I was 21 years old when I wrote about Aubrey, so be kind to my younger self. Also, I have reformed my feelings on Math.) Out of curiosity, I looked up that post again today, and realized that this time, I'm mourning two people. Neither of the people in that post, the author or the writer, exist anymore. The author of the post in 2007 was still getting used the the extra layer of clothing underneath her t-shirts. She kept things on shelves in the back of her mind, a faith crisis aging like fine wine. Or cheese? Or maybe I should describe it as the calm before the storm. So many cliches, so little time.
But just as I hold on to the memory of an old professor, using the memory as a guide for my own teaching, I find myself grasping for tiny pieces of my old self. The memory of a more optimistic person, a kinder person, and most importantly, a person not so weighed down by worry. Who is this reincarnated person, who no longer squirms under an extra layer of clothing and ritual, but who constantly worries? Can I hold on to the memory of a 21 year old optimist just a little bit longer?
At the end of every summer, I mentally prepare myself to meet Ms. Lauritzen again. For the past few months, as the heady and intense feelings of transitioning through my faith die down, I've been preparing myself to meet the person who is left. I'm at peace with where I've landed in my faith, but I still try and use the memory of my former self as a guide for my own personal growth. There was a lot of beauty in that faith-filled self.
However, with so many incarnations of self wandering through my subconscious: Ms. Lauritzen, Stephanie, Child-Bride, Wife, Hopeful Agnostic, Mormon, Christian, Mama, I know I can't spend too much time looking to the past. Instead, I'm looking forward to a year of re-building. When the kiddo was born, I told Spouseman that the only big decision I would make in her first year of life concerned her name (Clara Alice is named after a great- grandma and a great-great grandma,) and the rest of the year would be spent learning to love all the new people in my life. My new daughter, our new roles as parents, my new- to- me way of faithfulness that allows for both reason and hope.
Mostly, I'm ready to be done mourning, and ready to start living. I think it is going to be a really good year.
*Name the song. No googling.