Friday, August 30, 2013

The Year that Didn't Matter

I've the opportunity to do a little (and I do mean a little) teaching every day for a few weeks.  Although I do not like the circumstances one little bit, I did happily accept the invitation.  Just one hour a day for a few weeks, pretty open-ended.  No big deal.

Well, that's what WE think.  Imagine my surprise when my husband comes home with a substitute teacher application.  Okay, so I'm happy that they're background checking even a band wife who happens to be an inactive certified teacher, because they're doing everything they can to keep the kids of the district safe.  As a mom of an autistic little boy, that counts volumes and I really can't complain.

But I have to list my work.  The last job I did was for the last town where we lived, and it was a contract-labor type thing.  I wasn't paid monthly, just a teeny-tiny stipend at the beginning of the year.  It was good work, and it was fun, and I did it because I loved those girls and they needed help.  I definitely wouldn't call myself a colorguard instructor, but there it sits atop the year before, which was even less who I am.  Registrar at a private school... yeah, I was the guard lady there too, but there were four of them.  Good, sweet girls.  And I worked with three precious ladies in the office, all named Michelle.  So that's a weird entry in the ol' job history.

Then comes the ones I'm proud of.  The actual, baton in hand, in-the-trenches band director work that I savored.  Those four precious years that actually say "band director" on them hang like perfect pearls on the string of my application.

Then there's the teaching certificate. I was one year short of lifetime certificates, so I have to recertify every five years.  But the thing is, there's no reason.  I have my hands full with three beautiful kids and the special needs of the one.

I was curious, so I looked it up on the website.  Under my maiden name, which looks so foreign.  There it sits... "inactive".

Sorry, folks.  It just looks rude.

Of the four years I worked, only three are recognized.  The first year wasn't recognized as teaching because I was technically an intern.  Yeah, right.  I was half of a two-man staff, other than his dear wife teaching our guard girls and the private lesson teachers that hung around.  That place was roughly the same size as this place, and I worked my tail off and loved every minute of it.  Sometimes I feel like I'm from there more than I'm from my hometown.

But that whole first of two years to the Texas Education Agency?  It didn't happen.

Call one of the kids I had then and ask if it happened.  Call me... I'll invite you over, and we'll go through the two boxes of stuff I have from there.  Pictures drawn from kids who have now graduated from college.  Photos of band trips with kids who are now band directors playing on the beach.  Thank you notes from kids and their parents.  Marching contest shots from the first year... the smiles of pride in their hard work that turned so quickly into wet faces with those two words over the stadium loudspeaker... "Whitesboro... Two."

Ask the piccolo player and the clarinet players and the baritone player who are probably still mad at me for making them stand and play through the show, marking time as usual, tears streaming down their sweet faces, because the most important audience wasn't the judges... it was the home crowd.  I'm still not sure they ever believed me.  I stand behind what I said, though.  I also stand behind being madder than a wet hen because they worked so hard and wanted it so much.  And they were good.

Ask the guy who took a chance on an eager girl just out of college.  Did that year matter?  I still thank him for that decision.  I know it was made with much prayer and deliberation, and I'm still thankful.

It did matter.  It mattered to me, and it was wonderful... but just like the kids had to keep performing to the home crowd with their whole hearts, I have to realize that's where the importance lies for me right now.  It's not even to my kids... it's internal.  It's the vertical relationship that makes it all right, all possible, all good.

As much as I loved it, as much as I still love it, and as much fun as I'll have in about two hours when I'm chasing my kids around the band stands in my band-boosting shirt instead of my band director golf shirt, what I do does not define me.  There are many things that have been added to my identity in the last ten or twelve years, but the thing that has mattered the most isn't achievements, it's about what God has taught me about living.  Breathing. Loving.  Tasting the moments.  Savoring the truths and the funs and the bests; studying, feeling, learning, and living through the whys.

Thanks be to God for the year that didn't matter and every day since.


  1. That year...I believe that year to be such an integral part of shaping me into who I would be/am/will grow to be. My work ethic: Perseverance, Responsibility, Integrity, Dedication, Effort. The lesson that, no matter how hard you work and despite others believing you are the best candidate, sometimes you fall just short and may never completely understand why. And I have you to thank for that. I have told many a person about that rehearsal after contest, standing in the band hall, marking time and bawling our eyes out--you included. I'm so grateful for not sitting back and licking our wounds, but instead being pulled kicking and screaming into rehearsing and pressing on. That year made us better as a band, as students, and you as a director/teacher. And I know you know this, but it was part of God preparing you for Mommyhood, band director wifing, etc. You are even more equipped to confidently and lovingly comfort and push any and all of your kids (whatever way/shape/form they come to you). We know it counts and that's all that matters. :)

    That Piccolo Player

    1. Congratulations! You have just won the best comment EVER award, which comes with me sitting in the van in tears after a very hard first game of my oldest not listening... feeling really awful, having had to half-drag him back to the van before it was over... and getting this on my phone was such a gift. I mean, really hugged my heart. Those were two sweet years... it's so hard to believe that's all, just two years... because it was so amazing. Thank you so much for being a great kid then, and a great friend now. :-)


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