I'm sitting here at the computer in the kitchen with the sunlight streaming in through the blinds and a cup of hot coffee resting on the table in front of me.
The house, for once, is still. The pups are outside sniffing and poking around in the grass. Craig is coaching his teams at a basketball tournament. Natalie has been at Grandmama's house since 5:30 yesterday afternoon.
Except for the hum of the washer and the clicking of this keyboard, there is silence in my home.
As much as I love the mornings where there are two adults and three little creatures crawling around our bed, I crave mornings like this.
Sometimes I desperately miss the solace of living on my own. The independence to wake up slowly, cherish every drop of my coffee - maybe even have a second cup. The ability to sit out on the porch with a book and watch the world wake up. The thought of a whole day full of possibilities that stretched out before me. No commitments, no tantrums, no grocery shopping. Just me, floating through the day, taking advantage of whatever came up - whether it was meeting up and lunching with a friend or just hunkering down in my bed for a Lifetime movie marathon.
As wistful as I get for those days, I look around my living room at the stray turquoise Converse next to her little white rocking chair where she loves to sit and read her precious books. I see the tiny pink Crocs that were so lovingly gifted to us from a very dear friend and her adorable daughter. There are two dog crates which hold her favorite playmates, whom she excitedly helps release when we return home from school or any other trip. I love those things - the little signs of the precious baby girl who tromps around the house with such determination and joy.
Life is a give and take. In order to have the love, security and company that I craved while living in that apartment, I had to give up a certain amount of independence and freedom. But this is just a phase and I know that it will all circle back at some point in time. Soon enough, she will be eight years old and free from any sort of carseat, able to get in and out of the car on her own which will make shopping easier and faster. Then she will be sixteen and cruising around town with her friends and I will no longer be her chauffeur attending to all the demands of an active tween and teenager. Then she will be twenty-three and out in the world on her own, inviting me over for dinner in her newly acquired apartment, proudly displaying the "grown-up" set of dishes and servingware she purchased for herself.
But in the meantime, before I get to all those things, I'm going to enjoy this quiet moment by myself.
For whatever reason, this ending of the school year has made me more nostalgic than most. I think it's the first year where I've been acutely aware of how long I have been a member of this community and the impact that I've had on these children and their families. Children that I student taught math to when they were in 6th grade are now graduating high school and going on to do amazing things.
Craig and I had a wonderful date last night - we had delicious Mexican food followed up by watching the Rangers game at a local sports bar while having a couple of Coronas. While we were sitting there watching the end of the game, a gorgeous young server walked by our table and she and I both did a double take. She stopped and asked if we were middle school coaches at the local school. She was always a quiet girl, but a phenomenal volleyball player and even better student. She was one of those girls who flew under the radar in middle school but I knew that once she got to high school she would blossom into something remarkable. And that "remarkable" turns out to be attending the University of Edinburg in the fall to study International Relations and Arabic. I was stunned, impressed........and jealous. What an amazing opportunity for this young woman. At eighteen I NEVER would have had the guts, the determination or the confidence to attend or even apply to a school and an experience like that.
As we were driving home last night, listening to U2 on my iPod, I was filled with the memories off being 10 weeks pregnant and sitting at the comeback concert of U2 at the Olympic stadium in Torino, Italy. And years before that of cavorting through Amsterdam, Germany and London with a good friend of mine from high school. And even before that, one night of delicious drinking and dancing with my parents at a fabulous restaurant outside of Florence, Italy.
I have lived. I did go do things that required guts, determination and confidence. I have seen the world and yet.......I still wanted to return here. Out of all the places that I've seen and been, home is here in north Texas. It's not glamorous or filled to the brim with culture and history, but it's home. I can drive through the Metroplex and see myself from a small child to the adult that I am today.
As we were pulling into the garage and getting out of the car, I stopped Craig and told him how I was a teensy bit jealous of this young woman's opportunity to study abroad and have that delicious taste of freedom and independence. How I had that little ache in my tummy that reminded me that I too was smart and strong enough to have done something like that at her age. How there was a little voice inside my head that told me I should have and could have done something much greater with my life - something other than attending college a mere 45 minutes from my parents and then becoming a teacher married to another teacher living deep in the heart of suburbia.
Then something occurred to me. Perhaps I could have done "more" with my life, whatever that "more" might mean. But then I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to be a part of these kids' lives. I wouldn't have been able to use my gift of inspiration, encouragement, dedication and perseverance to teach them vital life lessons through coaching and in the classroom. Perhaps my role on this Earth isn't to go and do these "GREAT" things out in the world, but instead to stay here in my little town, in my little house and empower young men and women so that one day THEY can go on and do and be those amazing things.
I'll never get the chance to be eighteen and living abroad for college but I take great pride in the possibility that in some small way, I was able to help create a strong, independent, confident and intelligent young woman that is taking advantage of this opportunity.