I saw a former love today.
He was every bit as adorable as I remembered him. His smile lit up my heart in less than a nano second.
Then I realized that it wasn't for me.
He was there to see another woman. I'd been replaced. We exchanged a few polite words before I left to search for the one he really wanted to visit. She was in the another part of the building, helping to get things ready for the new school year.
"Mrs. Jeanne, you have a visitor," I informed her. "It's my Jackson...I mean, YOUR Jackson."
He used to be mine. He climbed into my heart each time that he climbed onto my lap. For the first few weeks of school, he'd arrive with tears brimming in his eyes. I don't let my babies cry alone unless they want to. He didn't want to. The rest of the class quickly grew accustomed to seeing me holding Jackson. Every now and again, another child wanted their turn in my arms, but none of them clung to me nearly as long as he did. As the weeks flew by, the arrival time tears were replaced by a playful smile. I watched him grow more and more confidant, and as he did, I grew more assured in my own ability to help build foundations for my little ones.
By the year's end, I knew he would never again be my cuddle bug. He didn't need my arms anymore. He was ready to move on.
In a way, I moved on too. I left my classroom that year, but I couldn't quite leave the vocation completely. This year, I am returning to my role as Preschool Teacher. In a few weeks, I'll meet a new group of three year olds. Some of them will come into the room ready to learn, explore and meet new friends. Some of them will hang back, worried about what to expect and missing their parents. I'll do my best to engage the ones who are ready to jump right into absorbing everything that they can, and to offer comfort those who need to feel safe before showing off their awesome three year old skills. I'll do those things knowing that, two years from now, many of them will barely remember my name. And that's okay. My role in their lives is temporary. That's all it's supposed to be.