Weddings and Funerals
Chances are if you’ve been following Here We Grow for a while you’ve run across one of my blog posts. There’s the one I wrote about dinosaurs and kids digging to Waterville to have lunch at their friend’s farm, and then there’s the post that was referenced by a newspaper in an article about the child care crisis… and how I want to rip out the Aldi sign that says “Now Hiring” . (No, I haven’t done that and no I won’t actually do it).
So perhaps you’re thinking, “What do weddings and funerals have to do with early childhood education Beth?” I’m just getting back from vacation and while I did get quite a bit of sun, it’s not my overexposure that has welcomed brain fog; in fact, I’ve never thought more clearly. I am very purposefully entitling this blog post “Weddings and Funerals”. Truthfully, I thought about calling it a few other things, but I just wasn’t feeling it. So here we go.
I’ve been struggling lately. Some people have told me I “brought it on myself” or I “chose this”. And to some extent they are correct, I did choose this. I did choose to question the DHS and I did choose to be very vocal about the issues we have in this state (and nation) regarding early childhood care; and it all comes down to weddings and funerals.
Confused? Let me explain.
Earlier this summer, my husband and I were all set to go home for my cousin Emily’s wedding, but that same week, God called my Great Aunt Laverne home to Heaven. As my husband and I made the over 8-hour drive home, I just kept thinking, “I really need to get home more often; aside from just weddings and funerals”. As I sat there in the pew at church, tears streaming down my face and those around me, I thought about life and how short it is. How our time on this earth, our time of grace, is limited. I couldn’t shake it. As Friday turned into Saturday, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I had. It was eating away at me. You see, it wasn’t just me who was attending a funeral. This Summer, 4 of our teachers at Here We Grow experienced loss. It started with Jessica whose mother-in-law passed away, followed by Maggie whose Grandmother passed away, then Nicole’s Uncle who passed away unexpectantly (which I found out about on my way back from Illinois from my Great Aunt’s Funeral), and then Becky’s mother-in-law passed away. Within a matter of weeks 4 people had left this earth.
I could not stop thinking about the funeral I attended, followed by a wedding; a life ending, while another begins.
At my cousin’s wedding, I stood at the entryway to the reception and there they were. Pictures of those who had gone to Heaven with a phrase that said, “Forever in our Hearts” – My Great Aunt Roma, Great Aunt Laverne, and my Dad’s sister Julia, who passed away from Breast Cancer just before I was born. I thought about my teacher’s who had lost loved ones, or who were spending as much time with them as possible, knowing that they were going to be with Jesus soon.
The reason I choose to share this, is not to be all “doom and gloom”. It’s not to try and shock people into some sort of “wake up call”.
The reason I choose to share this, is because over this Summer, two things became very clear to me; more clear than they have ever been.
The first is that life is indeed short. We never know when our time of grace will end. We should spend time with our loved ones as much as possible. And not just at weddings and funerals.
The second, was that our society tends to try and move us along. What I mean by that, is that our society barely allows people time off to attend a physical funeral, let alone spend time with our loved ones in the very short amount of time we have on this earth.
My sleepless nights have less to due with the overreaching, asinine decisions of the DHS and more to do with people.
Owning a business is a numbers game, but for me, it’s not about the numbers you might think.
It’s about how many days off I can afford to give my employees.
It’s about my inability to pay them what they are worth.
It’s about their cost of rent.
It’s about the quality of life that I can provide that contributes to their lives; to their time of grace on this earth.
And that. That is why I am struggling.
As the cost of living soars, I have a big decision to make. If I can’t take care of my employees, my work family, then they cannot take care of children. And research shows exactly how the mental health of teachers impacts children. After attending our Walk Out to the Senate earlier this Spring, one of our teacher’s fathers took us all out to lunch. He said to me, “Thank-you for doing your best to fight and take care of my daughter”. It meant more than he will ever know, because that is what I live for everyday. My employees are not “employees”; I was raised in a small business and watched my parents care for their employees as family. And most days, I feel like I’m failing.
This fight is not just about DHS. This fight is not just about protecting each parent’s right to choose the environment that is best for their children (which will cease to exist if we do not unite quickly) – although that phrase is THE one reason I will keep fighting.
This is about how I can provide for my teachers, so that they can provide for your children.
This is about waking up at 2am sweating because I don’t know if an employee will make rent.
This is about how to cover classrooms without going broke, so they attend their children’s school plays, science fairs, and sporting events.
This is about wondering how I can try and balance what parents can afford while retaining quality teachers, which becomes more challenging by the day as wages rise in our region and other jobs free of DHS stress become readily available.
This is about “my why” and Simon Sinek and Brene Brown.
This about their quality of life.
This is about weddings and funerals.