So last night I babysat for the first time in years. Three sisters whose mom had duty (my guess is she's in the reserves). Sweet family but here's the kicker--those kids are completely self-sufficient. My only purpose was to order dinner and to make sure nobody broke in and accosted the children. Those kids literally did everything themselves. The youngest puts herself to bed at seven, the middle one between nine and ten, and the older one whenever she pleases. They also get up on their own--at six a.m. Oh, I did have to wake up the middle one. Everyone else got up, dressed, ate breakfast, packed lunches, and saw themselves off to the bus. In the words of the middle child, "We're alone a lot."
These kids have become self-sufficient out of necessity and it made me realize how much my kids could actually do if they had to. But they don't, because I do it for them. I'm not sure that's a bad thing, though. I think if this single mom was able to spend more time with her kids, she would do more with them, but I don't know.
As I sat in their living room at two in the morning (I have a horrible time sleeping away from home), I found myself slipping into depressive thoughts. Homesickness mixed with guilt and frustration, and wishing I could find the kind of job that I felt useful in. It's been over a year since I've felt really useful. There's a new childcare center opening in a nearby city and I'm trying to apply for the director position. I also need to find out how to renew my teaching license. I want to be in a classroom. Despite my health, it's where I feel useful--in a good preschool with great teaching and learning going on. If that means public school teaching, then so be it. If it means running a center, that's good too. Whatever it means, it is most important that I do it.
I went without pain medication for 24 hours yesterday, and despite some pain and a lot of stomach upset I made it through. And I made money that i considered to be extremely easy.
What I wish I could do, more than anything, is offer a preschool of my own. I don't know if it would be successful, but I wish it could be. I feel a burning in my soul to put those things into practice, to make it real and breathe life into it. I guess you could say I'm searching for purpose.
This search happened to me once before, when I was in my twenties and had graduated with a psychology degree that wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. That was when I began teaching in preschools and eventually ended up getting a master's degree in education. What I need is becoming increasingly clear to me. I used to believe I was the kind of person who could be happy in the trenches, never climbing out, and only making a difference there. I'm starting to understand that is not the role I'm meant to play. I can't help but believe that I am supposed to be leading, mentoring, teaching adults as well as children. Training people, hiring people, teaching people how to work with children. Passing on my passion.
Other than exhaustion today and a bit of stomach upset, I've been all right. And that's good.