my last year.

Today, I officially filled out my "Employee Release of Contract" form.
Filling out this form (that I've been avoiding for months), has a sense of finality to it that leaves me unsettled with varied emotions.

Taylor and I decided a few months ago, that this would be my last year teaching for awhile, in order for me to stay home with the babe (and future babes ;)).
And while I am so grateful that we have the opportunity and ability to allow me to stay home, it wasn't an easy decision for me.
I had been battling and avoiding the decision for weeks leading up to actually making it...I think I always knew what we would decide in the end, but I just didn't want to say it out loud.
I wish I could adequately express how much I genuinely love my job and my students.

In December, it came time to actually make the decision (before the administration completed the master schedule for the following year).
I very hesitantly made my way to the vice principal's office and tried to think of all of the reasons why this decision wasn't the right one.
Could I really tell him I wasn't coming back to teach next year?
How can I NOT teach?
I sat down in the chair across from Mr. Larson's desk, and gave him a small, weak smile.
He knew immediately why I was there, and gave me a sympathetic and understanding look.
"So, what did you decide?"
I looked down at my hands in my lap, and was surprised at how much emotion was overcoming me.
When I looked back up at him, my eyes were wet, and I responded, "I won't be coming back next year."
Mr. Larson smiled softly at me and told me he understood how difficult the decision was for me.
I've been so lucky to work with Mr. Larson--possibly one of the kindest people I've met, and absolutely one of the best bosses I've had.
As a true family man (with eight kids of his own), Mr. Larson told me how much he admired my decision to stay home to raise my baby girl.
I sat and nodded silently, crying some more, as he told me that he would hire me back in a second--no matter how many years had passed--when I was ready to return to teaching.

After our discussion, I walked back down the quiet halls to my classroom, as I tried not to think about what it all meant.
I wouldn't have any more new students.
I wouldn't laugh with them every day.
I wouldn't teach the subjects I was so passionate about.
I wouldn't see the light in the students' eyes as they grasped a concept.
I wouldn't get to tell them how much I loved them every day.

While I knew I was making the right decision for my sweet baby and me, the reality of having a baby was so NOT real to me.
Teaching was my reality!
How could I give it up?

Months went on, and as my belly started to pop, students started to ask me more frequently, "Mrs. Gilbert, are you coming back after your baby?"
I had to stifle a little bit of emotion every time I said, "No, I'm not."
I continuously avoided thinking about leaving, and avoided signing the actual paperwork.
In fact, I avoided it so much, that the administrative secretary finally had an office TA bring the paperwork down to my classroom. HA
I looked at the paperwork, "Employee's Release of Contract" and immediately put it under a textbook sitting on my desk.
I didn't want to look at it.
Didn't want to think about it.

Then today, I lifted up the textbook and saw the paper sitting there.
I sat back down at my desk with a big sigh and stared at the empty form.
I just stared at it for minutes.
I again tried to think of every possible reason why this wasn't the right decision.
And as I sat there thinking about the last four and a half years of my teaching career and how much I would miss it all, my little baby girl started squirming around inside of me.
She moved, and wiggled, and kicked, and I immediately was filled with a new emotion that overcame my current feelings.
I suddenly stopped thinking of my past sweet teaching memories, and starting thinking of the future tender moments I was about to experience with my little family.
The tears started to flow as I sat at my desk staring at that empty form in one hand, with my other hand atop my belly.
I realized that while I was sacrificing something that was so special to me, I was doing it all for something that was even more so.

In that moment, I felt like each hand held something that symbolized SO much.
I was holding my past in one hand, and cupping my future in my other hand.
I was suddenly just so grateful for the last 4.5 years I was lucky to have in the classroom, but my heart was overfilled with gratitude for what was underneath my other hand--our sweet little mover and shaker, our baby girl.

I'm sure I'll forever miss being in the classroom, until I one day have the opportunity to return.
But for now, I am finally at peace with the decision we have made.
I'm sure there will be lots more tears as the year comes to a close, but I feel like I can turn in this form without hesitation or regret.
Sadness? Definitely.
But no regrets.
^this picture seems fitting...me with my senior class cabinet.  Can you spot the teacher? hahah^

And today, I will pick up my tattered bag (that I've willed to last one more year...the perfect commuter bag), walk out of my classroom, and be able to be at peace with the fact that my days here are limited.

I feel like my tattered messenger bag is so symbolic of my teaching career:
it looks so sad, with its tears and holes and worn straps--it has given me everything it has.
And it has done me so good.
I am so sad, but for 4.5 years, I gave these students everything I have.
And they have done me so good.


  1. Kelly. I couldn't help but honestly tear up reading this. It's amazing how much you LOVE this job, but like you already know, you will love that sweet baby girl more than you could ever imagine! I'm so excited for your future and can't wait to "meet" baby Gilby! ;)

  2. This was beautifully written. I know it must be heartbreaking, but I think leaving a perfect little girl at home to go back to work would be even more heartbreaking. . .

  3. I don't want to disturb the peace of mind you have made. But have you wondered whether you want to work part time? You could for example stay at home full time for a year and then return to work for two days a week (or one class or whatever works with your school)and stay home the rest of the week.

    1. the part-time options wouldn't work out too well, so it was either all or nothing!