I drop Katie off at daycare in the morning, just like I’ve done every morning for the past three years. Today it is different. Katie is officially in the preschool room. She is no longer a baby, no longer a toddler. She is in a new room with new teachers learning new things. I watch as Katie quickly finds her name on one of the cubbies. “Katie!” she reads with joy. She hangs up her backpack with all the confidence of a high school student and runs off to join her friends. “Bye, Katie,” I say to her back. “I love you!” I’ve done this morning drop-off hundreds of times. Today it is the same, but different.
I walk Maddie down the hall to her room at daycare, just like I have done every morning for the past five years. Today it is different. After lunchtime is over, she will board a yellow school bus with her little friends and go to kindergarten for the afternoon. She will learn and play and socialize and choose kind (always choose kind, Maddie). She will board the bus again and travel back to daycare, where I will pick her up after work. Suddenly, Maddie has this whole other life happening while I’m at work, I think to myself. I kiss her goodbye like I’ve done hundreds of times before. It is the same, but different.
I get in my car and start my drive to work, just like I have done every morning since I started teaching. Today it is different. I am not driving to the same place I have driven to for the past fourteen years. I am driving a new route to a new school district. I will smile at new students and settle in my new office. I will still be the instructional coach, and I will still work side-by-side with teachers in their classrooms. But I won’t know any of these teachers or any of these kids, and it will feel like I am working with strangers. I’ve driven to work hundreds and hundreds of times. This is the same, but different.
Everything in my life feels so foreign. Katie’s new room, Maddie’s new school, my new job. Everything is strange and new and scary.
It is not until I have picked the girls up from daycare and come home to kick off my shoes that I will start to feel the same again. Katie and Maddie will share stories from their day, and I will listen. I will hold them tight and kiss their cheeks, trying to reclaim the little bits of their lives I miss when I am at work. I will sip my coffee and breathe. Eventually, my husband will come home and greet me with a kiss. This part will feel the same – these happiest moments of my day. I smile and try to remind myself that change is good.
Tomorrow will be the same. Same, but different.