FOR THE LOVE OF CHILDREN

I love children; always have. Even as a child, I enjoyed it when a baby cousin accompanied an aunt or uncle visiting our home. I always thought babies had their own uniqueness; soft skin, sparkling eyes, and a sweet, fresh smell all their own. Unless they needed a diaper change!

My love for children continued as I grew up. I loved my two sisters and brother. Still, do; in fact, I cannot imagine my life without them. I love everything about them. No matter how old they get!

I was very blessed to be the mother of four beautiful children. Who will never know or understand the happiness they brought me; along with the many gray hairs, and breathless moments as fear set in; when they were late coming home or drove their cars way too fast?

The love I felt the first time I laid my eyes on them has built throughout the years, and I marvel at the men and women they have become today.

 My love for my grandchildren is like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I cherish every moment I spend with them. Each one of them is unique and wonderful, all wrapped up in one. What a blessing they are to me.

My two sweet, cuddly great-grandsons fill me up with so much love,  I often bubble over like water from the fountain of youth. And, no, I am not old; just a young great grandmother.

About the story………..

 This is a story about children and a dream that took forty -two years to come true. A story about compassion, love, and hope. A story about change, frustration, being overwhelmed, and sometimes feeling just plain bone tired. Above all, a story I would not have changed for all the tea in China.

The dream that would not let me be………

As a little girl, I loved playing school. Played it every chance I got. Mom always knew where to find me; in a spare room over the kitchen that held boxes, and odds and ends.  I remember having a little brown desk where I sat looking over my class of imaginary students.

The dream that festered in my heart stayed with me, all through my school years until my graduation. But as life happens, my dream took a side road. I fell in love, got married, and as the old story goes, my dream went to the back burner, simmering but never boiling until; the angel who lit the flame. 

One day as I was working in our produce business, a  customer ready to check out, struck up a conversation. It went like this, ” I noticed you like talking with the children who shop here. Have you ever thought of working with children?” I looked at her, stunned and speechless. She continued,” You have a lovely way with children. I think you would be a great teacher.” I could not believe my ears. I remember smiling and answered, ” Yes, I love children, and I always wanted to be a teacher.”  She replied, ” Well, it’s never too late!”

 This sweet lady picked up her bag of apples, smiled, and walked out the door.  As I watched her get into her car, the wheels started turning, and my dream started a slow boil.  That night at dinner, I explained to my husband about the customer who lit the flame. And to my surprise, this dear sweet man encouraged me to give some thought about going to college and making it happen.

Sleep was out of the question for me that night. Thoughts and more thoughts invaded my brain. I thought about my children, who really weren’t little anymore. Two were on their own, and two were in high school. I thought about our produce business and who would work in my place.

I thought about the naysayers and bullies that filled my head growing up. In fact, after all those years, I could still hear one voice of the ” I am better than you,”  saying, “You will never be anything but a farm girl, who doesn’t have the brains to go to college or to do anything.”  It was elementary, junior high, and high school all over again.

My Helper…..

The next morning, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing in harmony. As I drank my coffee, I decided I needed help with my decision on whether I should follow the dream that swirled around my brain or not. My heart was willing, but my thoughts were full of you will never succeed.  At that moment, I bowed my head and gave it all to God.

And help He did………

My day at the market started out like any other day. At nine o’clock, the first customer came in, and to my surprise, it was the gal from the day before. She formally introduced herself and started the conversation about working with children again. We talked about school, being a teacher, and the workload.

Then, right there and then, she offered me a job working part-time with the Intermediate Unit 20. She encouraged me to consider going to the community college and talking with an advisor. This sweet woman named, Carol, looked me in the eye and told me to go for it.

A long story short……….

Well, I took Carol’s advice, and with my husband’s blessing, interviewed and got the job with the IU20. I also went to our community college, talked to an advisor, took a reading and math test, did well, and enrolled.

To the nay-sayers…..

This part is for all the nay-sayers who planted seeds of self-doubt in my head; I not only went to community college, and  East Stroudsburg University, I graduated with honors. Yes, the work was hard, but my drive was stronger. I knew I was on the right path. My dream was within reach. Not bad for a little farm girl.

The best part………..

I graduated with a degree in Special Education. Although I loved all children, those with special needs have always filled my heart. The challenges they faced daily, their individual needs, the sometimes-slow progress they experienced filled me with a drive to give one hundred percent of whatever they needed, to help them succeed.

My students needed encouragement and to learn to believe in themselves. I can honestly say, I enjoyed each day, even when behavior issues took up most of my day. It was a privilege to work with those beautiful youngsters who now are either in high school, college, or working. All my students learned in a different way than regular education students, but none the least, they learned. Some of my students have gone on to college and with adaptations, did well.  I am so proud of each one of them.

Messages from my heart…..

Two and one-half years after I started my teaching career, and two weeks before Christmas, my husband passed away from a massive heart attack. Through his love and encouragement, I was able to fulfill my dream. I retired five years ago from a job that brought me great joy. Along with my aide years and time as a teacher, I was able to contribute 23 years of helping those students who needed someone who genuinely loved them and was always their cheerleader.

Dream two……..

After retiring, my dream of writing swirled to the top of my heart. It is my goal to make a difference with my written words. Through my stories, I hope to make my readers laugh, cry, and want more. Above all, I hope to open hearts to the dreams that are hiding deep within.

Don’t be afraid; dreams can come true! I am living proof.