The other side of the mirror

Have a good rest. Don’t forget, Daddy will be here when you wake up. I’ll see you in a little while. Love you.

I closed the door and walked quickly into my room. Thirty minutes. I plugged in the curling iron and began scanning the closet for something comfortable, yet professional. Picked a simple blue button-down shirt to go with my jeans and put it on. The slept-on-it frizz curled into compliance, the five-hours-of-sleep bags under my eyes properly concealed, I took a look in the mirror.

And I smiled at her. Hello. You’re back.

I fastened the little bean necklace he gave me four years ago, at the time little knowing but fervently praying that there was one growing inside me. I wore it nearly every day, then reluctantly hung it up when chubby fingers found it and wanted to pull. They pulled me here, back home, away from that face in the mirror. Away from the life in which I wore shirts with collars and shoes that didn’t slip on.

I tiptoed quietly into the garage and found the box and the binder. The cover: a collage I made eleven years ago when I first began. I opened it, almost expecting to hear stifled laughter in the hallways or see hands raised in anticipation. I flipped quickly through it, removing what I knew I wouldn’t need, pausing at the photo of smiling kids on a field trip and the crayoned thank-you note still tucked in the back pocket.

In the newly vacant front sections, I slipped in print-outs of this year’s calendar and my new class list. I felt the thrill of the teacher’s spring, which comes in August and not in March.

I walked back in the bathroom to brush my teeth and tie back my hair. I looked again, more closely this time.

Right. It’s not quite you. But almost.

For the first time since I became a teacher, I won’t have a group of children who are mine. Instead, I’ll be a pull-out teacher, doing enrichment classes once a week for students who will leave their own homerooms and come to me. Once a week, for a couple hours at most. A handful of kids, maybe two.

This is what you wanted, I told the face in the mirror. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

I tapped my foot impatiently as the time I was supposed to leave came and went. The key turned in the lock, and he walked in quickly and glanced upstairs. We exchanged the necessary information about each boy, and I grabbed my binder and my purse, enjoying the lightness of my shoulders as I left the diaper bag behind for him.

“Have a good time, ” he smiled, understanding. “You look nice.” The words floated out the door with me as I nearly danced down the porch steps.

I introduced myself to the team leader and to each colleague as she arrived. I sat through the meeting, nodding and laughing and listening along as they discussed the new year and what we need to do in the coming weeks. I noted my questions to ask later, when the bustle was done and just my mentor remained.

They filed out, back to their own schools, saying it was nice to meet you, see you later, call if you need anything. This feels right, I told the reflection in the computer screen as I logged into the network for the first time in two years and located the files I would need. Once again part of a team in which no one has tantrums or sticky fingers. Even if I won’t see them very often.

He told me what we do before we retest the kids. “Talk to them a little, put them at ease.” Yes, I replied, I have some activities and a pre-test speech I always give to my kids.

“That’s right.” He relaxed back into his chair. “I keep forgetting you’re not new.”

I smiled.

No, not new. Refreshed. Reflective. Ready to go.

16 Responses to The other side of the mirror
  1. Humanmama AJ Dilling
    August 24, 2011 | 3:13 am

    Amazing–you’re back to work then? Full or part time? Good luck with everything!! I miss work…

    • Jessica@Team Rasler
      August 24, 2011 | 6:14 am

      Just the one day- enough to remind me that I’m more than a mama!

  2. Aunt Lori
    August 24, 2011 | 4:06 am

    Oh! This gave me a lump in my throat, following along with you on your new path. It is so wonderful that you are rekindling that “teacher” part of yourself again; such a personal part of who you are. Isn’t it funny that our lives are like a cumulative test…every part of what we do and learn goes into the completeness of who we are? So, even though you are not “new” at this teacher-thing…this specific experience is new for you right now. Enjoy it!!!

  3. Blond Duck
    August 24, 2011 | 4:32 am

    Aww! I would think being an enrichment teacher would be fun! Popped in from SITS!

    • Jessica@Team Rasler
      August 24, 2011 | 6:52 am

      It will be fun! I’m excited about it. My favorite teacher ever taught my math enrichment class in fourth grade.

  4. Aunt Julie
    August 24, 2011 | 4:46 am

    I’m so proud of you! You have a supportive husband and two children who will be growing up with a great role model. One who shows them that it’s great to be a mom and wife but also important to keep one’s “self”. Thank you for being such a great writer and role model for me and my kids, as well as reminding me of all the things I need to remember as an individual.
    You truely are a remarkable person, Jessica.

  5. Tara R.
    August 24, 2011 | 8:45 am

    Good luck this school year. Sounds like you’re going to have the best of both worlds – work and home.

  6. Diana @ A Little Bit of Life
    August 24, 2011 | 9:12 am

    Congrats on getting back to what makes you happy. I like the not new but refreshed! Right now I just feel frazzled but one day…

  7. Shell
    August 24, 2011 | 10:51 am

    So exciting! Much luck to you!

  8. Sandra
    August 24, 2011 | 2:21 pm

    Good luck! I love how you tell the story. I felt excited for you as you start anew! It sounds like your family is wonderful, too. Hope you had a great first day!

  9. Kim
    August 24, 2011 | 2:50 pm

    When I went back to work after my first son, I went back four days a week instead of five. It was a nice balance but a part of me always felt that I wasn’t doing enough at work and definitely was never doing enough at home. Now I’m back full time after another year of maternity leave and I feel on most days that I’m just getting by. A working mother never feels like she has it all. Great post!

  10. Jennifer
    August 24, 2011 | 5:27 pm

    Every day I walk into my office and just sit and soak in the quiet. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but I know that it is something that I need. Congratulations on going back to work.

  11. decoybetty
    August 24, 2011 | 9:43 pm

    I loved reading this and I loved hearing your story. This is exactly what work should be like. freshness and excitement but a little bit of comfort as well.

  12. Megan (Best of Fates)
    August 25, 2011 | 8:03 am

    This is beautifully written – it totally pulls me into your mindset. Just perfect.

  13. Aunt Mary
    September 3, 2011 | 4:57 am

    Hooray for you!! I’m so proud of you. It may only be one day but it may also be enough to allow you to enjoy work and your beautiful family without worrying about neglecting one or the other. I’m very excited for you. Take the time to enjoy BOTH!
    Love you

  14. Guilty Pleasures | Team Rasler
    October 17, 2011 | 10:26 pm

    […]  Leave for work.  I love having six days a week at home with my boys, but that seventh day contains one of the […]

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