By: Dawn Irwin
As I sit here sipping my coffee on a beautiful Saturday morning, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of contentment and satisfaction. I haven't been this relaxed mentally and emotionally for longer than I can remember. The corners of my mouth can't help but turn towards the sky and I am trying to get comfortable with a lightness that feels foreign to me.
I've gotten so used to carrying around uncertainty and fear that my brain doesn't know what to do with the sudden extra bandwidth.
For the past 13 months, every single day was littered with complications, impossible hurdles, infuriating roadblocks, and unexpected heartbreaks. For the first time in over a year, that negative cloud has dissipated.
This past Wednesday, July 1st, was our first official day of school. I barely slept a wink the night before. But, not for the reasons I've lost so much sleep since last June. This time it was because of an excited, nervous giddiness that kept my mind humming along all night. If felt a lot like those sleepless Christmas Eve nights when I was a kid - laying awake in bed anxiously awaiting the time I could finally creep down the stairs and see what was waiting for me under the tree.
And, Wednesday turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. My amazing teachers arrived looking just as excited and nervous as I was. The kiddos came next, saying their goodbyes to their grownups. The school was filled with the wonderful, joyful chaos I've been missing for so long.
There was laughter, singing, reading, snuggling, negotiations, dancing, construction, mud cookies, a rock cake, painting, and even a few tears. New relationships were formed and familiar ones were rekindled.
At the end of the day, I was emotionally depleted and achingly exhausted, but I was whole. I had finally found the missing piece of the puzzle I had been searching for.
The outpouring of love we have received has also been an emotional roller coaster. It's incredible to physically feel the support of our community enveloping our little school. I know with every fiber of my being this dream would have never happened if it weren't for them. The countless shoulders I cried on, the many words of advice given, the financial support, the ones that saw a path forward when I couldn't, the endless dedication to the vision, the warriors that fought tooth and nail, the believers. I am eternally grateful for every single one of you. I would not be where I am today and the school would not have become what it is without you.
So, as I sit here reflecting back on the past thirteen months, basking in the lightness of this moment, I can't help but chuckle a little. As insane as it has been and almost impossible as it was to get to the place we are now, it's important to remember we have only just reached the starting line. We've taken just the first few steps of the marathon. The road will never end and I never want it to.
I'm ready. Let's do this.
Holly Beckert and Dawn Irwin are moms, early childhood educators, and advocates. Please enjoy reading all about our adventures inside and outside of our classroom!