I was cleaning my room when I took a moment to fold my gray pants, and on examination, I discovered patches had turned sheer.
I briefly considered making some sort of quilt out of them, but I don’t sew, so instead I balled them up and threw them away. Those gray pants had some memories.
When I was a first year teacher, I spent most of my days wearing that same pair of pants. They were light gray, comfortable, and an obvious choice on mornings when I didn’t have the mental capacity to pick out an outfit. (That was most days.) Sometimes I’d pick them off the floor and pull them on. They matched the one blue shirt I owned that was clean. I’d run a brush through my hair, put on a hint of mascara, and run out the door an hour before the children arrived.
My students gave me a lot of grief about those pants. Sometimes they’d call me out on my outfit repeats: “Ms. Freeman, didn’t you wear those yesterday?” And although I value honesty, the gray pants often compromised me. “Of course not,” I’d say. Or better yet, “I did laundry last night. They’re clean.”
At this time last year, I was at my lowest. I took off a day of work because I couldn’t stop crying about the frequent disasters that were happening in my classroom. I counted down the days so well and could tell you in early October how many days in each week we had to be at school, and by December, you could just look at me and I’d say: “We’re gonna make it guys. Thanksgiving, and then it’s just five days, five days, four point five days.” And, obviously, I was wearing those gray pants daily.
The holidays are coming, and soon all the teachers who wear the same pants every day will get to rest. That provides some solid hope. Hold on to hope—solid, tangible hope— for your classroom, for your students. Real hope isn’t, “Maybe things will get better.” It’s more like, “Things will get better. Someday soon, I will throw away my gray pants.”