I don’t work at Hilltop Preschool anymore.
Fifteen years ago, I walked in the doors looking for a place to put the oldest, born of my body into preschool. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I just knew it felt good. I had no idea I was building a life and finding my core. All three of my youngest went there, my grandchildren now too. Two of my nieces work there. The oldest I spoke of, he has been a nanny to the students plus most recently a sensei and another has been a skate coach for them. Our whole family helped to move and rebuild it, was it 13 years ago? My oldest sons and husband, they put the cabinets in the classrooms – moved them, the swings, the tunnel and the big cement turtle from our old site. So many of the special projects, the decks, the mud pit…we helped make it happen. We’ve done ceremony with generation after generation and been literally saved by them when my sister died, when my father got sick and eventually passed, and most profoundly when our son died. The culture, the community, it’s shaped us as a family and I believe we helped shape it too.
We imagine that there are moments that mark a change or transition – graduations, ceremonies, last days…I guess I had that moment yesterday.
I am realizing though, that is not how change happens. Ask your graduates if they felt solid in that or recall your 18th or 21st birthday and you will know what I am feeling. It’s more like – huh? Is it done? Did something happen? I am not sure. There’s so much leading up to it. And so much following but no real MOMENT when it feels done.
For me last week, there was the “last staff meeting”, (which isn’t really true as I will return to help interview,) the last morning gathering, the last goodbye song with the Blossom’s, the last story read, the last shutterfly books, the last pizza party, the last whole school goodbye song, except my grandchildren are still there… and really, I’m not going anywhere and neither are they. What does it all mean?
Next week sometime, I will go to Hilltop and pick up my things. Even though I will need many of them on my journey, it feels like an amicable divorce and there is confusion about my loyalties to the Blossom’s needs. “My things”, some of them anyway, feel like they belong to the program as much as they belong to me. I know the next Blossom’s teachers will make it beautiful and make it their own but there is something about legacy too. And then I come back to the simplified truth again. I’m not going anywhere, they can borrow it.
Do I feel different? For sure! Do I feel “divorced”? Not really! I won’t know if it’s denial or just remembering that change is a process, not just one single moment. And really, I don’t know what the relationship will look like now.
Yesterday was amazing! Even some alumni stopped by, which was so deeply meaningful to have some of the beginnings there at the end. In the morning, this beautiful butterfly visited. He stayed for a long time as almost every adult and child had time to wander over and marvel at it. I stood there and stared thinking – this is our sign! Transformation and outcome. WE will all spread our wings and fly. The love, confirmation and reassurance was all there in a hundred tiny moments, conversations and several beautiful letters!
Now, I wonder can I express the journey as it has been so far? I remember when my educational paradigm began to shift. I remember the seeds of understanding that we as educators, came to and how each of our thoughts and beliefs began to shape and grow into Hilltop as it is today. Hilltop is magic! Based on what I believe and know right now, Hilltop is the ideal, everything I believe is necessary for community, for families and for children in those early years. Just creating the structure of Seeds, Sprouts, Blooms and Blossoms and deciding what each program held and meant was a process – years of curiosity, reflection and observation. And I know it will continue. I feel blessed to have been a part of that!
As more and more families in the last several years began to make alternative choices, I knew that our families felt such a loss of support as they transitioned out of our safe and warm community. I felt the desire to be there long before I felt able to respond.
This change has felt right from the beginning even while it has seemed so obviously counter-intuitive. I have spent the last 3 years struggling against the pathless woods fighting with fear of loss and the instability that is the truth of life and yet, the very thing that feels like it may heal me is to walk right into the bush and leave home and stability behind.
So with humble thanks to everyone – Here I go! Looking forward to continuing our journey in a new way!