I have been in 5 different states in the last 7 days. Aware of the incredible honor it is to speak to other educators, to be valued as anything more than what I feel I am. But the truth is; I am so tired. I miss my family so much that my heart hurts. I miss being able to take full breaths, be at my house, and just being a part of the crazy experiment we call our life.
As I got to the airport in Denver today and saw that my flight was delayed, I instantly felt tears. Right there in the middle of the airport, I stood like an emotional fool, because that delay means I don’t get to be home at bed time. I don’t get to be there to say goodnight, to sing a song, to then sing one more song, and to perhaps just fall asleep right next to one of them. That delay means that I break the promise I made my oldest daughter as I spoke to her last night. As she cried and asked when I would be home because her tummy hurt, and her head hurt, and perhaps every single part of her hurt. I promised that yes, Mommy would be home to tuck her in, yes, Mommy would be home before she slept. And I know that sometimes that is just how it goes, but still.
So I did the only thing I could; I went to the book store right in front of me. All the way to the back to where the children’s books live and I let the experience soak in. As the smell embraced me, as the books surrounded me, as the whole feeling that only a place with books can evoke in you, my heart settled ever so slightly. In the pages of the books I browsed, I found my small sliver of peace. Within this space I didn’t feel quite as lonely, quite as lost. Home.
I think of the kids who have found their home within the pages of a book. Who have needed the freedom of the pages to live the life they hope for. Who have reached, much like me, for the familiarity of an experience that they know will never disappoint, will never fail them, will always make them feel like somewhere in this world all is right and nothing can harm them at that moment. How books are not just something we read, but something we become. How within the pages of a book we may rediscover who we need to be.
Our job as educators, as adults who love books, is to provide the same opportunity for the children we teach. To give them a space where no matter what is happening, their heart might feel slightly more at peace, where the loneliness may just be a little bit further away. Where they can reach for a book and know that within its pages their life will become more than it was before.
Because in the end, it was never really about the content we had to cover, but all about the experiences we created. About the discovery that happened. About the moments where we needed to be found, and we were. All in the pages of a book.