The start of my summer was bittersweet this year. On my final day as a preschool teacher, I turned in my keys, kept my goodbyes to a minimum (after all, I reasoned, I would be back as a sub next year!) and walked out of the door. The click of the latch settling into the strike box echoed in my head as I walked away from the building that housed giggles, hugs, learning and play. Doubt intruded. Had I done the right thing in resigning? Was I giving up too quickly? I loved my job. I loved the little faces that looked to me for direction. I loved watching them add their own touches to crafts, listening to them pour their voices into our songs and feeling pride spill over when they realized that they could master a challenge that I’d set before them. How could I walk away from that?
The answer came swiftly in His whisper. I was looking in the wrong direction. Instead of focusing on what I was walking from, I had to remember what I was walking toward. Still, a tiny accusation lingered in the back of my mind. Surely I could have found a way to continue juggling it all. And was it really juggling? The hours were perfect. The work was inspiring. The people I had been privileged to work with were both supportive and motivating. Wasn’t I just being selfish?
Possibly. Then again, I know that when I stretch myself too thinly, something always gives.
Unfortunately it doesn’t take too much to begin stretching me out. Recently, I discovered (again) what happens when I try too hard to make everything perfect. My inlaws were coming for dinner and naturally I wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible. You wouldn’t think that keeping the kitchen and living/dinning rooms tidy while preparing the various dishes should be all that difficult. I mean, surely the children would help do their part! And they did. Kinda. Except, you know, when they were busy making messes.
My children are experts at creating mess. Over the years, I’ve implemented a few tricks in an effort to curb their clutter. Sometimes those little maneuvers backfire on me. For instance, when I hide items from the children, I effectively hide them from myself as well. It’s not a problem until I actually want the object that I’ve stealthily stored. For this story, the hidden item that needed to be located was sugar.
I thought I knew where the sugar was. At least I knew where it wasn’t. It wasn’t in the sugar jar. Back when sugar was kept in the sugar jar, I would often find granules sprinkled all over the counter and floor. Telling the children to stop taking spoonfuls of sugar from the jar was kinda like telling the tide to stop rolling in and out. When I finally had enough, I poured the sugar into a clear plastic container and stuck it…somewhere. Problem solved! That is, until I needed sugar for my cheesecake crust. Fortunately, I spied the clear plastic container in the bottom cabinet when I took my mixer out. Unfortunately, the tiny white crystals in that particular container were not the sweet kind.
Have you ever tasted a cheesecake made with salt instead of sugar in the crust? I don’t recommend it. You might think that because the salt was only in the crust that you could at least enjoy the top part. You would be wrong. The salty taste seeped throughout the pie.
In the same way that one extra ingredient can affect an entire dish, every component of our lives influences us as a whole. There are sometimes very good parts that simply don’t blend well with the remaining elements. In another recipe, salt might be a necessary ingredient. For my cheesecake, it was wrong.
At another point in my life, I could have thrown myself completely into being the best preschool teacher that I am capable of becoming. For now, my focus needs to remain at home.
It can be difficult to let go sometimes, but for now I’m going to try looking forward and see where it leads me.