It's been an amazing summer so far, with a trip to the Salzburg mountains and so many sweet, simple moments with my son. We've had a wonderful mix of rain and heat, and the woods are already sprouting mushrooms that normally don't start appearing until July. Lately I've been experiencing instances where I am doing some little task, and find myself feeling just fine, which is a foreign sensation since my Mom died. I still have overwhelming waves of grief wash over me and shake my entire being. But more and more often, I have those realiziations that I am OK, things are good. Things would be better, and different, if I still had my Mom to talk to, and hug, and make new memories with. But this is how things are. It's time to start being OK.
Things have certainly changed quite a bit since I last wrote. At some point early this year, we came to the acceptance that Rafael will be an only child. After long, frustrating periods of trying to conceive, where each month of disappointment slowly poisons your relationship and eats away at your gratitude and joy, we decided stop mourning the absence of a second child and to instead celebrate having our healthy, lovely son. We let go of our picture of how our family would be. And we let go of the notion that we would only be whole and happy if Rafael had a sibling and we had a second child. I got rid of almost all of the baby stuff I had stored, and it was very freeing. We still have times where that longing comes back, and who knows, maybe it will never go away entirely. But the pressure and frustration are gone. They have been replaced by gratitude for my son that gives me butterflies in my stomach when I think about it! It is truly fanstastic having an only child. I would describe it as relaxed, and intimate.
This realization presented a step that I thought would come much later. I thought I would be a stay-at-home-mom for many years to come, since I expected to have more than one child. But now I was the mother of a four and a half year old who spent the majority of his days in preschool, where his friends were, where he socialized, learned, and played. My work as a mother felt less and less like work, and was evolving into a deep, loving relationship. This is such a wonderful step, but it also became clear that he did not need me like he used to, and that it was time for me to find a job.
For about a week, I fell into a depressed state. I had no idea what I should do. I am in my mid-thirties, and my life looked different than I thought it would. So what would the new picture be? I began beating myself up. Why hadn't I found what I want to do yet? Why had everything I had tried so far failed? I knew I didn't want to be self-employed, but I also didn't want to sit at a cashier or wait tables. There are so many creative things I love, but I didn't want to be a struggling artist. I wanted a stable job where I could be creative, where I wouldn't get bored. Something I would want to do for at least the next 30 years of my life.
But what could that be?
So there I was, feeling sorry for myself, when I started thinking about how I feel every time I bring Rafael to preschool, and pick him up. How I feel when his preschool puts on a little play, or celebrates Christmas. How I feel when he brings something home that he crafted, or tells me excitedly about something new he learned there. How I feel when I spend some time in his preschool group, sitting on a tiny chair, watching the children build with blocks or eat their crackers, surrounded by children's voices. What feelings did I get? Happiness. Comfort. Wonder. Fun. I pictured myself in a classroom with children, and immediately felt my heart jump. And suddenly I thought, "I wonder how someone goes about becoming a preschool teacher?" I began researching on the internet, and quickly found out that there was an open-door event taking place just a few days later at the near-by school where you could earn your teaching credentials.
After that open-door day, I knew this was the right thing. There were all sorts of beaurocratic hurdles for me as an ex-pat, but my will to make it happen had me ticking off those tasks one by one, springing over obstacles and heading in the right direction in a driven manner I had never experienced. I passed the qualifying exam with flying colors and am signed up to begin my two-and-a-half year education this September!
Oprah once said, "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for." I am learning to be outrageous and courageous with the things I ask for. I don't want mediocrity, and I don't want my life and creativity to be wasted. I am asking for a life well-lived, full of meaning for my fellow mankind. I am asking for a job that I love. I am asking for a job that is much more significant than a paycheck. A career that feels tailormade, where I learn easily because I am interested in what I am learning. Where my strengths shine, and my weaknesses are just tiny bumps in the road. It takes courage to ask for those things, to ask for your life to be something special.
Needless to say I am full of anticipation and have a whole new reason to look forward to Fall this year. I wonder if you all would be interested in following my journey to becoming a preschool teacher?
xoxoxo Thank you for sticking around and always welcoming me back!