I have been waiting to write this post for a while now because my brain and my heart are going in a million different directions. For one of the first times, I do not have words. I do not know how to share this news. I know that in sharing this news and writing this post, I will let some people down, but I still have to share my heart. So here goes nothing…
Next year, I will not be teaching.
What has been my sole identity for three years will no longer be. For three years, I have give all of myself to being teacher. Each child that has ever sat in my classroom is engraved in my heart. Each one of my students has made a wrinkle in my brain. Every kid that I have taught has become part of my very DNA. Those students, my classroom, and my role as teacher has become my entire makeup. I am teacher. It is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. That will never change.
One thing that has changed though is my roles. For the last three years, I have been able to give all of myself to those students because my role was teacher, but I now have the role as wife, and I hope to soon have the role as mother too. This changes things.
So it really has come down to one important realization. I love the students in my classroom and my role as teacher in such an all-consuming way that I must realize the danger that this consumption poses on my identity and my different roles in my own family.
All hours of every day, my identity and my being over the last three years have been about carving myself, often painstakingly, to being the very best teacher possible. I’ve carved, chipped and sacrificed to become a teacher I am proud of. And it is true. I am very proud of my three years of service and sacrifice, but what I must admit is that while I carved away to become the perfect teacher, I was also carving away at myself. I was losing Michelle while striving to be Ms. Dykstra (now Mrs. Ryan).
So after tears, prayers and conversations with my family, I have decided to take a leap. I am going to allow myself to step away from this all-consuming love, knowing that I am instead going to invest that love into a new role and identity. I am going to take my passion, dedication and love, and devote it to my role as wife and hopefully soon mother.
My decision is strictly for family, and this is a simple truth. I am making this decision for my own future children that I already dream about and love. There is no other way that I could leave the kids in my classroom.
But one promise I make to my first babies, my students: you will always be the first ones to show me what an all-consuming love feels like. You showed me what it is like to care so deeply that you are willing to sacrifice all of yourself.
My next role is to take what you have taught me about love and sacrifice and try to be the best wife, and eventually mother, there ever was. For this, I am thankful.