Today I woke up feeling…well, dare I say it…happy. I am! I am happy and so grateful for feeling this way. Not to say over the years that I haven’t felt happiness. I have. Today is different though, there is a depth to my happiness that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.
Over the past months, well actually over a year, I have been working on a plan. This plan is to maintain financial health, while maintaining my presence in my children’s lives. This is not an easy task as many parents know. For me as a sole parent, it has felt like a mountain of weight on my shoulders. Several years ago, I went back to work full-time in an administrative position, but it was just too much. We were all coming home cranky, tired, and I just wasn’t giving my kiddos the care they needed. I did enjoy the work…I love working outside the home…but as I fulfilled the need to provide for my family financially, I lost footing on the emotional and spiritual support they craved too.
So, I adjusted. My little one still in preschool, I cut back. I only worked part-time at a very flexible, low paying job. I sat in the moment, held on, humbly accepted the generosity of others, and in time, he made it to kindergarten and I was able to work more. I looked for work that fit into the kiddos daily schedules…not super easy to find…but was open to receiving what was available and in a very short amount of time, part-time work grew into a full-time position in a place I love to work and look forward to every day. I have been truly blessed in this part of my life.
This lovely job, that I enjoy with all my heart isn’t really enough financially though. I hold on, I budget wisely and we are not losing ground anymore. I needed a plan. I needed work that would provide me with the time for my kids, the financial resources to feed them, and if I’m lucky, provide an outlet for my own gifts and talents. For many years, I have resisted the urge to teach. I have always felt my calling was to work with kiddos outside the school environment. I know that I am blessed with the gifts to work with kids, but always hemmed and hawed about teaching them. I have a substitute teaching certificate, but never committed my heart and gifts to this profession. I studied theology in the 1990s and became a youth minister working with jr. high and high school kids for a decade. I loved it. I worked as an after care director for an elementary school and loved it. I also ran a preschool, but just never made that commitment to become a certified teacher.
About a year and a half ago, that changed. I had the opportunity to continue my education and enrolled in a program to earn my teaching certificate and a master’s degree in education. It was a paradigm shift for me. The old me, who wanted to be that adult outside of school that provided support for kiddos, became the sole parent who needed to find a way to participate in work I love without forgoing my vocation as parent. I have been working pretty hard over the last year or so. I went back to school part-time, did the work, made the grades and now am ready for the final piece…my student teaching. I really didn’t know when I began if I’d be able to complete the task. Today, I welcome the morning because I made it this far. I made it through the course work, the homework, the being away from home, the asking for help with the kids…I’m standing here nearly completed with the process and am so grateful for the grace and strength to have made it.
The even better part of the deal is that I get to student teach at the place I work now. I get honor of working with teachers I admire and kiddos I already know. I get the opportunity to develop my own gifts and talents in a place where I am loved and I love being. This is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
I promised myself when Dave died that I would take this journey one step at a time. I did not know how I would survive it. I knew that I would survive it…even though many days felt like I wouldn’t. I knew I had to survive…there really wasn’t an option. What I didn’t know was that I would grow so much. What I didn’t know was that his death would lead me to a place that wasn’t in the plan or familiar, but I knew I was meant to be. I remember in those early days, opening the curtains and looking out on the morning and thinking…why? Why do I need to be here? Why do I have to continue? Why did this happen? I remember cursing the beautiful sun for making me live my life another day. I only opened those curtains because I had to…but today, I opened the curtains and something different filled my heart…gratitude that I kept on plugging, gratitude that I took the risk and kept going without him, gratitude for all those lovely hearts along the way that said I could do this…I woke today looking forward again. Looking forward to something good, looking forward with happiness in my heart, looking forward without pain…and today that feels really, really good.