Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Day Jitters

Even at the age I’ve become in this life, I still suffer from the angst of “firsts”. First walk into a new doctor seems to be the point where I’m at in this decade. The monthly drop of the Great South Bay Magazine --I am still nervous about you people out there reading my “stuff” each month. Being in the ER with my hubby when you have no idea what the next hour will bring. A ride to the funeral of a young man-fear and grief mixed for the family. First family event without a beloved sibling sitting at the table.

There have been times when firsts have been joyful: Graduations, new babies, weddings and all the preparatory stuff involved in the excitement surrounding the “big day”. The first day of school, whether it is grade school, high school, college, or Seminary. A new school where you don’t know a soul, but after the first month, you know you’re all in it together to make it. It sometimes takes on the “us vs the teacher mentality”! Whatever it takes to survive.

I went to an all-girls high school. You would think the competition wouldn’t have been so bad. Ugly uniforms and no boys in a mixed-sex school setting should put us all on a level playing field. We lost that added pressure to show how smart you were in front of the males. We only had the teacher to schmooze. The teachers, religious women, were anxious for us all to achieve and show the world that we could be the brightest and best. We were taught to be almost arrogant about our position in life and know we were academically head over the “publics”. Not so sure about that posture as the school eventually shut its doors. However, I know that I was stretched and had a great education there. They prepared me for the “first” day of college and every door I walk through to this day.

The mantra we were taught was adapted by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.” Quite a tall order, don’t you think? It’s still drilled in my head, as you can see, and it’s been a while since I last sat in that big auditorium and heard those words.

I’ve always admired teachers but never had the calling to be one. It is a calling, isn’t it? They devote long days and often nights to molding kids into becoming adults. They have a tough time and keep going back year after year. “Maybe I can make a difference in a life” is the tone. The vocation is daunting but can be fulfilling.

I remember the first day of my first child’s kindergarten. He was all dressed up in his new outfit, complete with boat shoes. He had a little backpack and nametag around his neck. I have a picture of him and his sister walking off to the bus stop with my mother holding each of their hands. Smiles all around, but I know my mom and I were weepy. The “first” of many in our family. My mother has since passed but I know she will be there today in Spirit for my first grandchild’s first day of kindergarten this Fall.

I’m writing this as we prepare for a hurricane. For many, it will be a “first” and the panic has been rampant. Caution for Mother Nature’s fury is good.
Let's hope Irene is benevolent!