I’m participating in the 21 Day Blogging Challenge. Although I might not do all the posts in 21 days, I would like to eventually use all the prompts for entries, so here is my first entry for the 21 day challenge.
Most people don’t know what they want to do with their life when they are six or seven years old. It changes from day to day or week to week for most kids. One day, they might want to be a fire fighter and a few days later, they proudly tell you that they want to be a scientist. Kids have such imaginations and I admire their ability to dream and think big. I wish I had more of that. Even when I was a little girl, I kept it practical. I thought small or at least that’s how I look at it now. I remember a relatively short phase where I’d tell people I was going to be a secretary and pretend to talk on the phone and write in my appointment book. I think I got this idea from my mom because she worked in an office at the time. More often, I would tell people I wanted to take care of babies when I grew up. Until a few years ago, my aspirations rarely changed.
I always thought it’d be so fun. I dreamed of playing every day. I’d get to do all the cool things I remember from my childhood. I would get to help make childhood experiences memorable for the children I work with. We’d play with play-dough, build with blocks, play in the water, take field trips to fun places and discover the wonders of nature. We’d make gingerbread houses for Christmas and carve pumpkins on Halloween. We’d make snacks that look like animals or have funny faces on them. I could plan cool lessons. I would help the kids create awesome art projects. I pictured that every day. I didn’t think too much about diaper changes, paper work and behavior management. Not to mention difficult parents.
My dream was to provide a safe and fun place for children. When I was young, I never had that safe place. I was safe in my family home. I was safe at my relatives houses. That is more than some people have and I am grateful for that. However, the childcare facilities and homes I went to were unsafe and abusive in some cases. No one knew how bad things were for me at the time. As I got older and put things into perspective, I wanted to ensure that I was providing a safe space for children.
As I have been exploring what my passions really are, I’ve been wondering if that was my real dream at all. From a young age, I remember wanting to be a mom. I knew I’d have babies. I’d think about possible baby names, fun things I would do with them and what I wanted my family to be like. The thing is, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that. I had internalized the idea that there was a question of whether I could raise kids. Everything from diaper changes to teaching them life’s lessons. I had no doubt in my mind that I could do it, but somewhere along the way, the messages from society and those around me started to seep in. My confidence slipped and in the back of my mind, I understood that working in childcare could be kind of a preparation. I figured that if I could work caring for children, then people couldn’t question my abilities as a parent. Sometimes I wonder how it would’ve been for me as a parent if I did not have all this early childhood knowledge before hand. I think it would’ve been twice as overwhelming.
I knew that the babies were my favorite, but when it came time to apply for my first childcare job, I was working with a program coordinator. He was in charge of summer job placements. When they asked which age group I wanted to work with, I really wanted the babies, but I said the preschoolers. I was thinking practical and as always, questioning my own abilities. I was afraid of getting it wrong. What if I didn’t know what the babies needed or wanted because they couldn’t talk to me? How would I communicate with them? I was worried about the feedings and diaper changes. Of course everyone agreed that I should work with the older kids. If I would’ve spoken up, maybe my path would’ve been different.
With the way things have turned out, I often think of my choice to work in early childhood as one of my biggest regrets. These thoughts creep in on days where I don’t feel like I’m making a difference. When I feel over worked and under appreciated. Then there are the days that I’m grateful. I wouldn’t have met the kids who have touched my heart. I would’ve never met Sophie, a shy and extremely bright girl I met during my internship. We were both new to the program. She needed some extra attention and I became her favorite person at school. We developed a strong bond over those few months until she moved away. She’d be a teenager now, but working with someone like her was exactly what I pictured all those years ago. Since then, there have been several other children who I have built strong attachments with. Some of them have taught me some very valuable lessons.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been exploring different career options and would love to start my own business. Working from home with a flexible schedule so that I can spend more time with Rosebud is still a dream of mine, but for years, I have been wondering what my purpose was. Why have I been stuck in this situation? What lessons haven’t I learned yet? I’ve been so down in recent months that I’ve found it difficult connecting with the kids and have felt like I’m part of a machine. A machine that runs on autopilot. One that doesn’t think and doesn’t feel. That is until recently. A new boy joined one of our classrooms and although I won’t get into specifics of his situation, I feel that he needs an advocate. Someone who understands his situation. Someone who really cares and will look out for him.
Maybe this was my purpose and it has just been shown to me. Maybe I can make a difference in his life, even if it is just being his favorite person at school. If I can make him feel safe, welcomed and confident in his abilities, then I have fulfilled one of my life’s purposes.
Sometimes, those little dreams and practical thoughts can lead to something much bigger. We just have to be open to going down our own path, remembering that when we’ve made a wrong turn, we can still discover something amazing. Almost three years ago, I got the unexpected gift of being a mom, proving that some dreams come true, but not always in the times or ways you planned.