Nine Years Later

I took my kids to eat dinner at Subway tonight since my husband was working late. They were being so charming, so thoughtful, so delightful. I picked up my cell phone to write a cute exchange they just had as a Facebook status update when I saw someone approach our table.
"Miss Albrecht?"
I looked up. It was a boy. A teenager. A somewhat familiar face, but I couldn't place him. The fact that he called me by my maiden name gave away the fact that he was a former student who I had within my first three years as a teacher. (I met Andy during my third year and we were married at the end of my fourth; all of those kids would have known my married name and called me "Mrs. Sauer.") That would put this young man as about 19-20 years old.
And yes, every bit of that information crossed my mind within the millisecond before I responded.
He had to tell me his name, but as soon as he said it, I looked at him as if he were eleven years old again. Ryan.
Ryan had been quiet. Short. An average student. Never really talked much. A nice kid. I can't say that I made a huge difference in his life as a student, but I suppose with 125 sixth-graders every year, you can't make a perfect connection with each one, right?
I asked what he was up to, if he was in school, etc. No. He was working at a pizza place up the street. "Are these your kids?" he asked. Realizing I hadn't introduced them, I exchanged names and then he surprised me with his next sentence. Seemingly out of nowhere. "My girlfriend is two months pregnant."
I see.
I had a million different thoughts, but I didn't want to come across as too judgemental. "Wow, that's a lot of responsibility."
Honestly, I don't remember what other small talk was said after that little exchange because I was completely lost in my thoughts. He left after picking up my napkin that had fallen on the floor.
I finished writing my status update and put my phone down to see Jack offering some of his bread to Meg. I felt so incredibly proud of my kids. MY kids. These are not my students that I invest myself in during the workday and then send home to their families. These are MY kids. Gosh, how did I get so lucky?
I have my Master's degree. I am permanently certified to teach pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade in New York state. I have five and a half years experience as a classroom teacher in the district rated second in the state. While these are great things to be proud of, they are not my greatest accomplishments.
Still, it makes you think.
When you give up a career in order to invest yourself in your family, it's easy to question whether or not you did the right thing. Gosh, I could have offered so much to those kids. I could have made a difference in their lives. I could have done so much.
But at the end of the day, you know that there was nothing I could have done differently to see that Ryan stayed in school or didn't get his girlfriend pregnant at such a young age. I taught him about ancient civilizations. Read his essays. Helped him organize his homework schedule. 
I choose to invest everything I've got into these three beings I helped bring into the world. Three. Some may see it as a waste of talent, of resources and of time. But here's how I see it: I've got ONE shot. One. And I don't want to mess that up. I know that by staying home, it will not mean my kids won't find trouble outside the house someday. They're kids. With free will. I'm counting on them having their own life experiences. But I am praying that my influence, my dedication, my love for God and their daddy will make them more willing to stay open to the Lord's leading.
That's my prayer.

This is - in no way - belittling the hard-working moms who work outside the home out of enjoyment or necessity. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. Simply put, this is just the best fit for my family right now.
Some may think I'm doing those 125 kids a disservice by not being their social studies teacher. Perhaps they're right. But I've got three pretty special kids sleeping upstairs right now that would beg to differ.
Best of luck to you, Ryan. May God give you all the wisdom, grace and stick-to-it-iveness to be a great daddy to that precious little one.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a story! Smiles, surprise, tears, and gratitude all wrapped in one! I love that we were able to choose quality and quantity when it comes to time with our kids! We are so blessed beyond measure and I pray our kids will reap the benefits of our overflowing cups!