Firsts and Lasts
This is my 150th post, and it’s been a little over a year since I started Leann’s Random Thoughts. I don’t know that any good has come of it, but it’s been a fun time for me to pretend I’m a writer. This past year has been an interesting one for me, and I’ve sort of stepped back recently and learned from it. Perspective is really fun to play around with every now and then.
About 5 months ago, one of my best friends, Katherine, gave birth to Nelson Bennett. (Shout out to Momma Katherine!) He quickly stole my heart, oh about 5 minutes after his birth when I first held him. It really is fun to try and see the world through his eyes. Everything is new to him even though we live quite jaded lives. Celebrating his firsts have been so much fun. He’s already cut his first tooth, he’s rolled over both ways, he’s sat up on his own, he smiles like it’s going out of style, he eats and grows at maximum speed, and he looks like an absolute angel when he’s asleep. I think that’s my favorite part: when he falls asleep in my arms. It’s getting more rare these days as he becomes more active, but it’s a feeling I absolutely cherish. Oh yeah, and to my knowledge, I believe I am still the only person who has changed his diaper multiple times who hasn’t been, shall we say, squirted. (Yep…just jinxed myself.) That’s not to say that he doesn’t give me a hard time for the rest of the diaper change. He doesn’t ever seem to like me snapping his clothes back together. He gets really impatient with me, but good grief, some of those snaps can be hard to do.
On the flip side, my mother is retiring on May 26th after 40 years of teaching. So, in the same year that I’ve been witnessing Nelson’s firsts, I’ve been privy to my mother’s lasts. I think I started really noticing it when she got to Christmas break and I realized that was her last Christmas break. Then came her last spring break, and her last time to teach “Tuck Everlasting,” and her last mid-term progress reports, and her last historical short story projects, and her last 6th grade dance, etc. The best last was the last time she had to proctor the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test–statewide standardized test for Florida students) exam, which became a source of frustration in the latter part of her career. In these last few weeks, she’s finally started to really enjoy the idea of retiring. It took us a while to get her to really want to celebrate it, but she’s come around. She’s almost finished packing up everything and giving away things to other teachers. I know it must be sad for her and that she’ll miss it terribly when August rolls around and she doesn’t have to go back. Turning in her keys the last time will probably be the hardest, but perhaps I’ll be there to hold her hand when she does. I’m headed down to celebrate her retirement at the end of next week. What she’ll do with her time after she’s retired, I don’t know, but after 40 years of standing before elementary and middle school students, she deserves the break.
It seems odd to be so proud of these two people. Nelson because I’m not blood related to him. He’s just managed to steal my heart, and I love him more than words could say. I’m just so proud of the little man that he already is. My mom because she’s my mom. She’s supposed to be proud of me, which she is to an astronomical extent. But, I didn’t think children could be proud of their parents even though this daughter definitely is. I’ve always felt blessed that she was my mother (even when I didn’t really show it), and I’ve always adored that her chosen profession was teaching. Because, really, if you think about it, my mother has spent her life in two very thankless jobs: motherhood and teaching. No mother or teacher has ever received the appreciation they so greatly deserve, yet they are responsible for our lives and our futures.
So, over the last year I’ve been blessed to learn from a precious baby boy just discovering the world and from a remarkable woman aged by the years of a career she’s loved longer than anything else in her life. Perspective Indeed.