Okay, so this week, I’ve been praying about and thinking over what God may want me to do going forward in my life. I looked back at my old journals (from when I was working outside my home) and it was a little scary. One entry in October 1993 said this:
“I hopped on my broomstick at the end of school yesterday and didn’t get off of it until I walked back into the classroom this morning!”
That was the year I was working mornings as an assistant to the first grade teacher and afternoons as the art teacher for K-5th grade! I remembered being thrilled to get the chance to double my pay and have a class that was my own. I loved being creative and I loved helping the kids to be creative. I reasoned with Mike that our own children were older now, so I could take on more responsibility outside the house. This was a good fit for me, or so I thought.
At pre-planning I found out that I would need to come up with six different art lessons a week. There was no set curriculum. And the student’s art would need to be displayed in the foyer and changed out once a month. All I could think was, Oh no, my reputation’s on the line! Everyone that comes into the school will have to see this art!
The first week of school, I worked furiously to put together art projects. They were perfect, if I do say so myself! Full of creativity and skill! I poured over books and tailored each lesson to the different age groups. I did lots of prep work at home. I remember one night I was in bed doing a sample drawing for one of my classes. Mike startled me awake, clearing his throat. ” A grown woman has no business coloring herself to sleep” he plucked the red crayon out of my hand and turned off the light.
My first display in the school foyer was a giant tree trunk with huge leaves in watercolor hues of brick reds, lemon yellows, and pumpkin oranges. I did a lesson for the lower grades on why leaves change their color in the fall. Then they painted beautiful watercolor pages that I painstakingly cut into the shapes of leaves. It was quite a glorious display! I even got applause at the weekly staff meeting! But the thrill was short lived…the headmaster beamed when he said, “We can’t wait to see what you put up next! That should be in about three weeks right?”
The honeymoon was over. At home, I couldn’t keep up with anything. According to my trusty 1993 journal, by the end of September, I had: “been late to school once, sent Emma to school with no socks once, worked a ten hour day twice, ordered take out for diner four times, and locked myself in the bathroom to have a hysterical cry once.”
I commiserated to my journal, “it’s the end of October and I’ve missed most of my favorite season. We haven’t been to the mountains to see the leaves. I haven’t made caramel apples or decorated the house for fall. We mostly eat fast food, the house is out of control and worst of all … the broom. ” I was definitely in touch with my inner witch that year! Reading my journal, I could feel the tension. All the warmth and sense of place I desired to create in my home was gone.
I did finish out that really hard school year. A few years ago, I had a student from that year (she was a junior in college then) tell me she was going into interior design. She said her love of art and beauty began in my art class. So maybe some good came out of it after all. But when the headmaster offered me a contract for the following year I looked him square in the eye and said, “Dr. Kirby, you have got to be kidding me?”
That year seems kinda funny to me now, but I think I’ll call the kids and apologize in case they have bad memories of stale peanut butter sandwiches and no caramel apples. Also, I’d like to make sure they don’t need threapy.
This is what I wrote in my journal in July 1994 after finishing out my stint as an art teacher: “Life happens all around us. But not a good life. A good life requires some understanding of oneself and a little planning. And a lot of nurturing. Help me Father to remember to nurture myself so I can in turn nurture those close to me.”
I had learned some great life lessons that year. I’m putting those lessons into the mix as I prayerfully consider the future. I don’t want to do any more extended time on my broom. (I sure hope Mike doesn’t read this and say: “Did you ever get off the broom honey?”!!!)