The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and it’s thrown the kids — and me! — into a vortex of mixed emotions. The last day is always so fun, full of parties and celebrations for completing another grade, but there’s also a slight sense of melancholy hanging over everything. That’s because time with our beloved teachers is also wrapping up. And it’s always so hard to give that final hug on the last day.
Every year, my kids and I are excited at the thought of all the summer activities, camps, and trips ahead, but also sad because we’ve all become quite attached to the wonderful teachers and other folks who work at our school. Each year I’m certain the bar has been set so high there’s no way to match it the following year, and every year I’m wrong. The next teacher is just as fantastic as the last, and a new love and connection emerges.
We’ve been doing this a long time now — my eldest is 10 — yet every year I’m still caught off guard by how hard it is to say goodbye.
But when I stop to think about it, of course I feel a sense of loss. Our family has spent the last year building a special trust and rapport with them and now that relationship has run its course. So, naturally there would be a somewhat of a grieving process because you mourn things if they’re meaningful.
Even though we knew all along that our teachers were ours only temporarily, it doesn’t make the sting any less piercing. We’ve invested so much time bonding with them. But I guess it comes down to this: these teachers were never really ours to begin with. We got to borrow them for a fleeting moment and now it’s time for a whole new group of students to get this wonderful experience.
The progress my kids made this year, both emotionally and academically, is a real testament to the incredible educators who spend their days pouring their love into other people’s kids. Working in education can be a thankless job and often teachers are tasked with more than any person could reasonably stand. But they show up, day after day, and do the job because they truly care. They’re expected to wear so many hats: academic teacher, counselor, and life-coach. They don’t do it for praise, and certainly not for a huge paycheck. They do it because they love working with children and watching them blossom and thrive. And they teach them so many things! Useful things! Valuable life lessons! Like why bats are nocturnal, how to tie their shoes, and why it’s not polite to call someone poop-face.
Teachers, I want you to know the work you do matters. Sure, the ability to add and subtract will undoubtedly come in handy later in life, but what will really stick with our kids is the confidence you’ve instilled and the compassion you’ve shown them.
Our final goodbye on the last day will inevitably be bittersweet and laden with emotions. There will be some tears shed, mostly mine. Instead of trying to fight it, I will try to lean into the sadness as proof that what we are leaving behind was exceptional. What a magnificent and complex thing it is to say goodbye to someone who has had an indelible impact on you. But that’s the true and beautiful part: we know we must’ve done something right if it’s that hard to do.
This year, the end of school is especially poignant, because for us, it’s the end of an era. It’s the last time I’ll have a kindergartner and we say a final goodbye to the staff in that grade level knowing we don’t have another kid just around the bend.
I know we’re a lucky family to make saying goodbye so hard. But here’s to falling for our teachers, year in and year out.
Christina Crawford is a Dallas-based writer, guacamole enthusiast, and mom to three feral little boys. She spends her days putting out fires (actual and metaphorical) and trying to keep goldfish alive. Her words have appeared in Newsweek, HuffPost, Health Magazine, Parents, Scary Mommy, Today Show Parents, and more. You can follow along on Twitter where she writes (questionably) funny anecdotes about her life at @Xtina_Crawford