Out of the blue, my youngest son begged me to tell him the truth about Santa. It’s not even close to Christmas so I wasn’t really prepared.

The mom in me hoped I had another year, but I knew it was time. He recently turned 11 and deserved to know-frankly, I’m shocked he believed this long. I read many articles about how to keep the magic alive. I planned to talk about our unconditional love for our children as we shared a beautiful tradition, all while still sharing the realties that a grown man doesn’t fly around the world and deliver presents to children in one night. The articles intended to help parents deal with this conversation didn’t help; our explanation didn’t soften the blow. He felt we lied to him for years. He cried. I bawled, because it was at this moment, I felt like I didn’t have a little boy anymore.

The kid who used to ask for stuffies for his birthday now wanted a chain and ridiculous looking sunglasses. This felt like the biggest punch in the gut ever. Where was my little nugget? How would I handle this change? Honestly, not well-that’s how. I found myself staring at other people’s babies and toddlers and smiling. Then, I quickly realized I must look like a creeper, so I stopped. Then, I started looking at old pictures of both of my boys, and that only made things worse. The change was just too much to handle-at least with how I was approaching the situation. I looked at this as a major negative: little kid grows up=sad ending. I needed a mindset shift. When I changed my thought process to the following: little kid grows up=new, exciting memories, some of the sting wore off.

Adapting is hard, no matter the situation. In our schools, colleges and universities, educators have been asked to adapt to so much over the last few years, and the adaptation continues. When COVID protocols ended, that seemed like it could be the end. But then, students returned and there was a whole new set of issues. And now staff shortages have forced you all to adapt in ways you may have never imagined. The “how much more can I take” is a legitimate question. Lucky for you, when you’re feeling like you can’t metamorphous into another butterfly, the MEA and its entourage of caterpillars are working behind the scenes to advocate for changes that can help ease your burden, or at least as I found helped, take the sting away.

Included in some of MEA’s advocacy work this year are continued efforts to increase the minimum teacher salary and minimum pay for support staff, work to increase the pension, addressing the issue of staff shortages, student mental health and more. The MEA is always on your side and is your fiercest advocate for the top priorities of its members to not only make your workplace a better place but to also create the schools our students deserve. You can read more about these advocacy efforts on page 22.

The work of MEA over the school year will hopefully help ease you into the summer months with a little more peace and security—a feeling I wish for you to hold on to as long as possible during what I truly hope is your best summer ever! For me, while we deal with having another seemingly “big kid” we will forge ahead holding on to the memories of Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy with optimism for what the future holds—including more sleep as I stop pretending to be fictional characters I’m not.

Giovanna Bechard