Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grains of Gratitude


When I was pregnant with Brenna, I decided to go back to school. I had a degree in social work and was working for state govt in disabilities service coordination. I loved it, but wanted more direct contact with people with disabilities. My job had become 95% paperwork/desk work, and I wanted more. I loved working with my school-age clients and loved attending their meetings, especially when I got to go to school. It irked me that so many teachers did not understand community-based services for people with disabilities and all that it entailed. They seemed to know only what went on in the walls of their school and nothing else. I knew I could do better than that.

My husband was also a teacher, which made the teacher's schedule enticing, thinking of being home during snow days, holidays, summer - especially now that we would have a child. So I started the process of applying to grad school. I would get a master's degree and be endorsed to teach high school special education. I started in January 2004, my little Brenna was just 6 months old. I took two night classes per week and leaving her on those nights was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I worked 7:30-4:00 every day and then also left her home with daddy two nights a week. She barely noticed, but I sure did. I spent every minute I had with her. Evenings, weekends, holidays. I was with my baby. Then when she went to bed, I studied. It was grueling. I thank God that I had such a good husband, who was a good daddy. Without the hubs (and God, for that matter), none of this would have been possible.

I went to school for two years and eight months. It was hard. It was exhausting. I just kept telling myself that in the long run, it would be best for our family. In that time, that I was in school and also working, I got a new job (teaching on a provisional certificate until I finished school), we moved, we had a second child, and hubs and I both got new jobs this year. I can't imagine how we made it through. We were physically, emotionally, and financially spent.

Graduation Day ~ August 2006

But now I'm home. For eight weeks. With my kids. I am finally reaping the fruits of my labor. I am enjoying time with my family after a very fulfilling first official year of teaching. We are going on our first family vacation this week to Colorado. I feel so content. This is what all of that work was for. I shed so many tears, wondering if I was doing the right thing. Now I know, this is exactly what I was meant to do. I am satisfied.

The kids won't remember that I was busy with grad school when they were infants. That their dad stayed home a few nights week while I finished up. Heck, Mason attended 9 graduate hours in utero, that should give him some advantage, right?! What they will remember is that it was me who was home with them on summer breaks. That we spent Christmas vacations home together. That I was passionate about helping kids with disabilities and also about being their mom. I believe this. I believe that it's all working out for the best. And that feels good.

This week, I am so grateful for perseverance. It has led me to the balanced life that I so desired.

Hey - Thanks, Christine, for hosting Grains of Gratitude! It's my favorite post of the week!


nikkis30by30 said...

I am SO HAPPY for you, that you are happy with your life and where you are. Not many people in this world can say that these days! KUDOS to you!!! :D

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

Came over from Annie's blog. I'm originally from Iowa so I just had to visit when I saw "Ohama". I'm so happy for you that you'll be "home" this summer. One of my brothers and his wife are both teachers and they really look forward to this time of year. Enjoy!

Jacqniel said...

You have earned this time. Enjoy!

annb said...

What a great post! I wish that I had that same attitude of perseverance and my eye on the "prize" when I was younger! My children are grown now - my baby is 17, and even though they are all well-adjusted(as much as the rest of us) adults and now harmed by the fact that I worked all during the time they were growing up - I look back and would have loved to spend more time with each one of them. The time has passed so quickly and I know that I missed a lot of "firsts" and a lot of conversations that would have taken place if I were with them more.
You should be very proud of yourself and of your husband (for being there and caring for the children). You've accomplished so much and for the right reasons!

bubandpie said...

My sister has learning disabilities, and her teachers were such important mentors in her life. Congratulations - and enjoy this summer! (I'm hoping to settle long-term into the pattern I've got right now, too - teaching a course in May and June, then having July and August off.)

Jen said...

I cannot imagine leaving a four month old baby, you are a brave woman and you are right you are reaping your rewards for it.

Way to go!

Omaha Mama said...

Jen - I'm glad you mentioned 4 mo. old. Oops! Brenna was 6 months when I started back, so now I've changed it.

Yeah - it was rough. But SO worth it now!

Oh, The Joys said...

What a great post -- and tribute to perseverance!

Alpha DogMa said...

I have such respect for people (like you) who continue on with their education after kids and marriage. What a great example you are setting for your children about following your heart.

My Father-In-Law was a teacher. Growing up ALL my husband's friends were children of teachers and it was just the norm to have your dad and your mom home all summer long. He has great memories of 8 weeks of successive camping trips for his whole childhood.

Lawyer Mama said...

Congratulations and GOOD FOR YOU! So now, enjoy your well deserved Summer.

Mad Hatter said...

Wow. What a lot to have taken on at that time in your life. You must've shed a few tears just from exhaustion. I'm so glad it worked out the way it was meant to be.

Michelle said...

I love this post on perserverance! You did it and now you can enjoy what you've worked so hard for!