Yesterday I accompanied my daughter’s school on a field trip to the Natural Science Museum in Brussels. As much as I wanted to be there for my daughter, there was a part of me that was hoping I wouldn’t be needed as a chaperone. It was nothing personal, I was just busy and didn’t feel like I had time to shepherd kindergarteners around a museum full of exhibits they couldn’t touch with information they couldn’t read. I guess I don’t sound much like a former preschool teacher right now, do I?
It seems a small amount of time away from the classroom, and I have forgotten how much I used to love the job. I remember the kids, some more than others. I remember the parents, some with fondness, some with the fear that they may somehow come back into my life. I remember my coworkers, again with a mixture of sadness that I no longer see them, and happiness that I may never have to see them again. I remember the frustrations that came with the job, but much of the joy has faded.
It bothers me to have the good memories leave. I always thought you were supposed to forget the bad things and move on the with happiness you once had. It’s why people call exes they hated after the break up, or go to high school reunions. Everything that used to make you cringe, now makes you smile. And the farther away you get, the more you should wish you could go back.
Maybe it shouldn’t matter to me that my memories have changed this way. I know consciously that I loved many things about the job, does it matter if I forgot the rest?
I guess it doesn’t. Not much.
I know where I want to go, and that path is not heading back to the finger painting section.
So why does it bother me to have this job that I have placed in my personal history not give me warm fuzzy feelings anymore?
Because this is my back up.
Everyone has one, whether they admit it or not. If you lose your well paying office job, you could always take a job with a rival company. If you lose your house, you will live with family. If you can’t make it as an actor, you’ll wait tables for a while. If you can’t have what you want, you will settle for something else.
I know that writing is not something people should ever do for the money. Yes, a living can be made, but for most people, it is not going to make you rich. I’m well aware that even if I sell a book, and become a published author through an agent and a publishing house, I might still need a day job to make ends meet. Even worse is the possibility that one day I will be back in the classroom, crawling on the ground picking up legos, and wishing I had sold a manuscript before time ran out.
And maybe that is why the memories are not as pleasant as I wish they were. It’s not the memory of the past, it is the fear of the future. I know I will most likely be back there one day, and I’m not sure if I will have anything to show for this time spent focusing on my writing. Will I go back, happy because I know where I am and I just need a little longer to finish getting there, or will I go back broken, defeated, and dreamless?
For now, I try to find the enjoyment of my life, both with writing and with the occasional foray back into working with children. Because the truth is, I did enjoy the museum. We saw some dinosaur bones, something I had never seen in a museum before. Most of the kiddos liked the T-Rex.
Of course who doesn’t love him, with his big head, tiny arms, and potential to actually have been covered in chicken-like feathers. My daughter however has a bit of a love for the triceratops.
She is apparently the only one in her class who has an interest in a herbivore, which is strange as she often asks for meat for dinner. (I don’t mean she asks for chicken nuggets, or hamburgers, I mean she will request her food by animal that had to be killed. Ham is piggy meat, steaks are cow meat, and chili should always be cooked with bison meat.)
In the end it was a good trip. It reminded me that if I need to, I can go back and still find enjoyment in an old career. It also reminded me that there are other things I want more.