Love Stories Through the Generations

I grew up hearing the love stories of my parents and grandparents.  My parents knew of each other throughout their youth, since they were both from two large families in the same town, with many of their siblings being in the same grades.  When my mom was trying to avoid a young man who was interested in her, she chose to sit with my dad at a graduation reception.  That event turned into dates (my dad saying my mom begged him and my mom saying that my dad asked for a date) and eventually a relationship, with a breakup to ensure my mom had found the right man.  She had.

My paternal grandparents met in a “romantic” meat-packing plant.  After a couple dates, my grandpa proposed and six months later they were married.  They were together for over sixty years, until my grandmother passed away from lung cancer.  My maternal grandparents met at a dance and my grandma’s brother asked my grandpa to drive her home.  The rest seemed to be history–marriage shortly followed and a brood of children. Over sixty years later and they are still married, my grandpa cracking jokes and my grandma still thinking he isn’t funny.

My mom and grandmas all got married fairly young.  At times, it is easy for me to begin to do the calculations.  “If I was my mother…..I would be married, with a toddler and another baby due in a couple months.”  These thoughts aren’t really comforting, nor are they intended to be.  Instead, they instill a sense of urgency, a feeling that I am missing out.  It’s the all-too-dreaded ticking of the biological clock.  It is enough to make me panic, even as others around me are saying, “You’re young, you have plenty of time.”

The other day I came to a greater realization of life.  At times a relationship and marriage dominate much of my thoughts and desires.  But marriage is only a means to an end.  If the goal is Heaven, marriage is meant to get me there.  Life is meant to be spent striving for spiritual perfection and Heaven.  That mission is one that relates to me now.  No, I don’t have a beau or a marriage to invest in.  Yet if God knows everything, He must have intended this time to be used for something other than just waiting for my life to start, because it has clearly already begun.

Someday I hope to have a story of how I met my husband.  Inevitably, it will be different than my mother’s story.  Yet I’ve been blessed to have experiences and adventures that my mother did not have.  Even as I desire a life of wedded bliss, I strive to embrace my present state in life so that I will be prepared for the next state and for the next life.

Open House, New School Year

There are a lot of things most people don’t know about teachers.  Most people don’t understand that non-essential classroom decorations (posters, quotes, extra materials) are not paid for by the school.  At times they don’t realize that teaching isn’t a 8-4 job, even if those are the hours for school.  They see the long summers, the Christmas breaks, the consistent weekends off and they believe that teachers have it made.  My dad used to say that teachers complain about their pay but they only work for nine months out of the year.  After seeing me endure my first year of teaching, I think he re-evaluated and commented that teachers work pretty hard.  Every job has its difficulties but people think they know everything that teachers must do because they have all experienced classroom teachers.  The other side of the desk is a bit harder, I’ve learned.

The school year is just beginning and I feel tired already.  Tonight was open house–where the parents go through a mock day and are in each class for 5 minutes.  I’ve never been a big fan of it and always get nervous to speak to the parents.  Tonight I was the least nervous I have ever been but there were still moments of anxiety.

The best part was when I would thank the parents for being the primary educators of their children in regards to the faith.  My intention was to challenge them, encourage them, and applaud them for their efforts.  It was wonderful to see the parents hear what their children probably never say to them.  They see the battles to get their children to Mass and I catch a glimpse of the greatness of that action.  One of the parents thanked me for what I do for the students.  Despite my dislike for the open house in general, that makes it worth it.  I love that I was able to encourage, however briefly, the parents in their vocation as parent.  The rewards may not seem obvious but they will be eternal.

Since my older sister came home for home visit, I am realizing that I love the idea of the lay vocation.  It is the leaven in the world.  The sanctification of the world will only be possible, I believe, with the sanctification of the laity.