I spent the morning in the rose-hued light of the first grade classroom. I spent the morning watching, tiptoeing around their desks trying not to let my presence alter their movements. Through their invented spelling, the sweet illogically logical words; through their beeswax modeling, small, warm hands shaping beetles and bees; through the rehearsal of their play, the way they strived to learn it all by heart. I spent the morning in wonder. For a few hours I was the observer of a self-contained universe; 16 satellites orbiting their sun. And I remembered, longingly, what it was like to be that sun, to dwell in that secret world. In the still air of that April morning, I could feel the rush of the classroom sweep me away again. Yes, I thought, this must be the place.
That is why, when I opened the email just a few hours later, the email which said thank you but no thank you, the gentle yet firm pat on the back, I had to catch my breath. I had convinced myself that this thing, this job, was just an idea hovering in the ether, perhaps ready to coalesce, but perhaps not just yet. The interview was a step, a foot just barely in the door. Someday, I thought, without holding too tightly to when that someday might be. But I should have known: my wanting so rarely stays small.
I've spent the last week rolling around in my regrets and self-doubt. But the questions that keep rising to the surface, unwilling to sink down: What good are you? What do you have to offer beyond the care and keeping of children? They are questions I never dreamed I would be asking myself. They are questions I know insult and degrade the very necessary and worthwhile work of childcare. But here I am, nearly half a decade into motherhood, and I am unable to call upon those parts of myself that once stood to define me.
For now, I am trying to find brightness in this moment and authority in this decision that doesn't feel like my own. I have a year to prepare before even the possibility of this opportunity will come again. A year to read and study and observe. A year to wonder and dream and wish. Much can happen in a year. My own life seems to be a testament to that tired yet reliable truth. So I will take this year. Or two. Or more. I know that someday will come and when it does I will be ready. This school, this community. This must be the place.