One week ago, I met with one my building principals to discuss an unexpected, upcoming opportunity. Towards the end of the conversation, he hinted that he knew my secret. A little birdie had told him and he understood that the news wasn’t out to the masses yet, but he extended his best wishes. We talked about my due date (finally! Not a September baby!), potential maternity leave (I’d take a little more than the customary six weeks, for sure), how I was feeling (so good! Not sick!) and his excitement about the addition (thank you! We are so excited too!). I left the office relieved that he knew. One less awkward meeting to have.
One week later and I am walking into work and another principal calls me over in the street. He hugs me and whispers “I’m so sorry. Good to have you back.”
Seven days. One week. I had a baby, lost a baby and am forced to hit the “play” button on life.
Smile at co-workers in the hallways.
Open the classroom door.
Read sub notes.
All was fine in my absence.
Should have stayed out longer then.
Greet students when they come in.
“Where have you been?” the kids continuously ask.
To answer that is like solving some last minute riddle with a gun to my head.
I got kidnapped by Chris Hemsworth. We ran off together. Into the sunset. But then I felt bad that no one was teaching you guys about the Revolutionary War so I came back.
They laugh. Most of them don’t know who Chris Hemsworth is. Some of them actually believe this to be true. A few of them just really don’t care to know where their teacher was.
My mind is a total fog. I think I compared the French and Indian War to Donald Trump wanting to build “the wall.” I’m not even sure, looking back, how I made that connection. The kids looked rightfully confused. Their teacher is a mess.
I go up to the high school and am met with similar questions from my older students. They’re far more inquisitive and intuitive than middle schoolers.
Maybe they know.
I pretend that all is well. Afterall, their midterm is next week. They need to review. But at this moment, my cramps kick into overdrive. I didn’t bring my medication as I convinced myself that I was fine without it.
My friend and co-worker casually offers to co-teach my class. I enthusiastically accept because between being in physical pain and a mental haze, I’m not sure what I’m doing. I just want to go home with my heating pad and Motrin and cry myself into a peaceful nap.
Resuming life is hard.
It’s a lot of pretend. A lot of acting. A lot of forced smiles.
But this is day 7: Resume.
Even if I’m not ready.