My son is leaving for college, and it's the best and worst thing all at once.

"I have worked myself out of the job."

I find myself struggling under the weight of change. My heart is simultaneously so full and yet shattered into a thousand pieces.

I am teary all the time. There's a heaviness on my shoulders that I'm not sure will ever go away.


My baby is about to leave the nest.

My high schooler.

Sure, I know what they say. I know this is an exciting time. I know he's better off launching into the world and growing into a responsible adult.

I know I will adapt to him being gone. I know he's not dying. I am extremely proud of what he's become and what he’s going to be. I know he's healthy, competent, and strong. I know that I don't want him living in my basement until he's 40. I know how lucky I am. I know this.

But I cannot seem make my heart understand what my mind knows.

All the many sleepless nights rocking a newborn in the moonlight of a tiny apartment, I dreamed of what he'd become.

Bleary-eyed and exhausted, I soaked it up as best I could. Later, as I wiped peanut butter off sticky fingers after his lunch every day, I fervently longed for when he'd learn to do it himself.

With each tantrum and missed nap, I'd ache for just a few minutes of alone time. When I had a baby girl in the shopping cart and felt frazzled as I struggled to herd two wandering little boys, I groaned and fantasized about doing the shopping without them.

A lot of those days, I found myself wishing for time to move faster. Life with young children was a never-ending glance at the clock on the wall, minutes sometimes ticking by so slowly they felt like hours. If I could just make it until nap time. Or bedtime. Or Friday evening at last.

Watching a child grow up can go by quickly. Image from iStock.

The dirty trick no one tells you is that one day, you will spend every minute wishing for the opposite: watching the clock and willing it to stop.

They never tell you that your heart will hurt and swell at the thought of time moving forward. And move forward it will, at a pace so rapid your head will spin.

You will wish and pray for just a few more months or hours or minutes with these babies. Few people ever warn you that you'll look back and wonder if you appreciated it enough, loved them enough, taught them enough.

I have worked for 18 long years for these exact results, and yet I feel unrealistically angry at my own success.

I have achieved the perfectly predictable end to the story I have spent years writing. I have worked myself out of the job. I knew this was the outcome of the path I was on, but now that I'm here, I want a different one. One where I get to have my cake and eat it, too. One where my son flourishes and grows, yet never leaves my side.

Is that too much to ask of the universe?

And if I can't have that, then I at least want a do-over.

My young man.

I want to hold him one more time in the moonlight of that crappy apartment, smell his sweetness, and lose an entire day with him in my arms.

Watching your children leave the nest can be exciting and scary. Image from iStock.

I want to see those sticky fingers grasp at Cheerios on a tray and rejoice when he can finally pinch one between them and raise it triumphantly to his lips. I want to see that toothless kindergarten grin look for me in the crowd of parents during the painful squeaks of the beginner violin concert and watch his eyes light up when he finds me. I want it so badly that every cell in my body just aches.

But that's the thing about this story: We don't get a different ending.

We get this one. We build our lives around these busy, toddling, energetic, lovable creatures, and they walk right out of it. We are left with a hole in our heart where their daily presence used to be — an ache that will never be filled because the life we had built with them in it is forever changed.

Stevie Nicks brilliantly said it best:

"And can I sail through the changing ocean tides / Can I handle the seasons of my life? / Oh oh I don't know, oh I don't know / Well, I've been afraid of changing / 'Cause I've built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Even children get older / And I'm getting older too."

I know I'll be OK and find myself eventually on the other side of this long, lonely bridge.

I know it's not the end.

But it's the end of something; it's the end of something pretty spectacular. And I just can't help but wish it wasn't so.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture