Newlywed Love (#64)

May 26, 1970

With only 7 days of the school year left for me and even fewer for Nate, we were anxious to leap into summer. I would be student teaching and attending summer school. Nate would be working full time (we hoped), though we didn’t know at what.

SchoolroomAs I began emptying my classroom a little each day, thoughts of teaching kindergarten in the fall were front-and-center in my mind. I was confident I could teach them well and, thanks to my 1st grade year, now had a thorough knowledge of what we were shooting for.

My mind filled with happy scenes of marching around the room in a rhythm band and singing songs at the start of each day.

Linda and Judy, my carpool buddies, wouldn’t be commuting to Danville anymore, so the long drive would be a solitary one for me, come fall. But I could play music and sing along, a different kind of enjoyment.

As I cleaned out my classroom desk, I also thought of Principal Scarce having lost 3 of his 7 teachers simultaneously. He didn’t seem to hold any ill will toward us and invited us all to his home for a bar-b-q on the last day of school, June 5th.

As for Nate, he was burrowing in on the books for another round of grueling finals, hoping to find a summer job that might let his brain rest a little. He had his eye on construction work, maybe holding a stop-and-go sign or sweeping up debris.

An ad in the local paper sounded promising. Young men would show up to a local parking lot early each morning to sign up for road construction crews. When their names were called, they’d be assigned to a specific project and then trained at the site. The pay was good, and the work was physical. And I thought of another advantage: a nice sun tan.

As we planned our summer we were excited about something else, too – getting a dog! One of my students had a mama-dog who’d given birth to 8 puppies about a month earlier. She had begged me to come to her house to see them, and I had, taking Linda and Judy along on our way back to Champaign.

The old Toby.In 10 seconds I’d fallen in love with a puppy who was a dead-ringer for Toby, our family’s dog as we were growing up (left).

The minute I saw this miniature look-alike I was committed to him and couldn’t wait to introduce him to Nate.

“Not till after finals,” he said, though he did share my enthusiasm. “It’ll be perfect timing to train him, too, with summer weather and all.” We hadn’t discussed who would be making those frequent potty-trips outside, up and down to the 3rd floor, but we knew having a new Toby was going to be great fun.

The new TobyOur little guy would be ready to come home with us the week school ended, when he’d be 6 weeks old – and there would be no charge. This was going to be the best summer ever, as we became a family of three.

“You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.” (Psalm 36:6)

Newlywed Love (#63)

May 22, 1970

 

These days Nate and I were so worn out that after school we often found ourselves sprawled on the living room floor or the couch — hoping to catch 40 winks before dinner.

Tired.

One late afternoon I was so tired I slept straight through till morning.

Tired

The cause of all this fatigue was our frequent late nights with friends. Often we’d share dinners that began at 10:00 PM and continued into the wee hours. But the exhaustion was probably a result of tension, too, as we worried about the big shifts coming when summer arrived — followed by more unknowns in the fall.

One day when I got home from work, Nate met me at the door with a long white envelope that had just arrived. “From the Board of Ed,” he said. “I think your wait is over.” I was wide awake in an instant and tore it open.

“I hope it’s good news,” he said.

The envelope contained several pages and presented a good-news-bad-news scenario. The good news was very good: I’d been hired to teach kindergarten at the school on the other side of Danville. We were both relieved and thrilled!

The bad news was that there were conditions attached.

First, I’d have to attend summer school in a continuing effort toward teacher certification. This would be afternoon classes and seminars, 5 days a week for 8 weeks.

My student teacher in ChicagoSecond, I’d have to do 8 weeks of student teaching, also in the summer, since I’d never done it. This seemed silly, since I’d actually had a student teacher under me when I taught in Chicago. (right)

The student teaching would be done in a Danville 2nd grade, another curriculum learning curve for me, each morning of summer school.

As all of this sunk in, Nate and I thought of a third and fourth negative. I wouldn’t be able to get a summer job. And rather than me earning money, we’d have to pay out for tuition.

The letter was clear, though. If I wanted a teaching job in Danville, any teaching job, those were the terms. Apparently I’d slipped under the radar in being hired to teach the 1st grade class I was just finishing up. No one had mentioned summer school, student teaching, or classes back then.

“So…” Nate said. “What do you think?”

I thought about my Chicago friends with provisional teaching status who’d told me they were all being let go now. Had I stayed there, I’d be out of a job. That seemed to elevate Danville’s offer, and once again I realized that teaching without certification was a privilege.

“I think I’ll take it,” I said. “Besides, teaching kindergarten kids again sounds really great.”

And so God had answered our prayers. The wait was over, I had been given what I’d asked for, and we were exceedingly grateful. We even felt some of that exhaustion slipping away.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Newlywed Love (#62)

May 18, 1970

As the school calendar wound down, I was getting nervous about not having a firm plan for the fall. I hadn’t heard from the Danville Board of Ed after my interview and had no way of knowing if I’d be teaching or not.

ConcernedNate reminded me that patience was a virtue and suggested we talk about anything but that when we took our evening walk. Just before we left, we got a call from Mary and Bervin. She was breathless with excitement, and I wondered what might be happening. “Guess what!” she said. “Today I felt life!”

I didn’t know what she meant, but she continued. “The baby! I felt the baby move inside of me today!”

 

Ultrasound.I couldn’t believe it! Something about her statement made this new little person more real than ever, and I just couldn’t wait to hold him or her in my arms – the first new baby in our small family of six adults. It snatched my thoughts away from teaching and gave Nate and I something special to talk about as we walked around the neighborhood that evening.

Inevitably the topic morphed from Mary and Bervin’s baby to the possibility of one for us some day. It was no secret that I loved children, but Nate hadn’t had any experience with kids at all. When I told him he would make a wonderful father, he responded with doubt.

“Well,” he said, “at least we don’t have to decide that anytime soon.”

Loving babiesHe was right. Although I had wanted my own babies since I was a child myself (left), I also pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom. With Nate still in school and me supporting us for another year, that dream would have to wait — more virtuous patience.

As we walked along hand-in-hand I said, ”I just wish I knew if I would be able to have babies or not, if there was some way to tell ahead of time. Then I wouldn’t have to wonder.”

“My guess,” he said, “ is that we’ll have a houseful of kids and your dream will come true — just not yet.”

We fantasized about what our children might look like and what their names might be. Nate said, “I’ll be OK with any name, as long as it’s not named after me.”

“How come?”

“Because I’m named after my dad – nothing but confusion. He’s Willard Nelson Nyman, and I’m Willard Nathan Nyman. Everybody calls him Willard, and calls me Nathan. But when I was living at home, if someone called the house and asked for Willard, no one knew if it was for Dad or me. And when mail came for Willard N. Nyman… again, no one knew. Let’s avoid all of that.”

“That’s fine,” I said. “I know I’ll love our babies even if we name them A, B, C …. or X, Y, Z.”

And that night when we climbed into bed, I realized I hadn’t thought about my teaching predicament even once.

“Children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)