sometimes you need ‘home’

The worst question you could ask my (or any) TCKs (Third Culture Kids) is ‘where are you from?’ For Xavier and Anouk, they are from everywhere and their ‘home’ is wherever the four of us are together. During the school year (at the present moment), ‘home’ is Muscat, Oman. For three weeks in the summer, ‘home’ is Geel, Belgium and for another three weeks, it’s Fremont, California. For Rob and I, ‘home’ is reserved for those places we spent our formative years and where our parents still reside. And though we wouldn’t give up our lifestyle for anything (except maybe our dream B&B (read: Bed & Brewery) in some fabulous small town in some distant land), sometimes we are desperate for our connection to ‘home.’

It was on one such day back in late February when Rob and I looked at each other and wondered, “What the hell have we done?” Like any move that has come before, this one has been hard, wonderful, challenging, and joyous all at the same time. Usually the sense of adventure and excitement supersedes any feelings of loss or regret. But first years can be hard. It’s not hard in the where-is-my-next-meal-coming-from hard but challenging in the: making new friends, setting up a new home and new job, cultural differences, and where the hell is the grocery store? hard. I would actually say, first years are exhausting! No, no… they suck!

But in late February, the feeling of fear, apprehension, and WTF have we done? came with a vengeance.

And then… I called my mom.

With a lump in my voice and tears streaming down my face I asked my mom, “Could you or dad please come to Oman?” After a tearfully honest conversation about how hard (yet also how easy) this transition has been, my mom said, “Let me call you back in a few hours.”

And 24-hours later, since my mom and dad couldn’t make the trip at this very moment, their representative was on her way to Oman. After rescheduling appointments and frantically packing her suitcase, our dearest friend and Anouk’s Godmother, Tricia, arrived at our home 8,500 miles away. And in the first moment with her– the deep and all-encompassing hug she gave each one of us made everything right again in the world.

For the short four days she was here we didn’t play tourist at all. She came and left Oman seeing nothing this beautiful country has to offer. But what she left in her wake was far more powerful. She filled our buckets to the rim with the love and joy we needed to get ourselves to the end of year 1. For the days she was here, we were in a loop of: talking, drinking, crying, laughing, hugging, glamorizing, eating, walking on the beach, and playing games. This loop was on repeat up until the very moment we needed to hightail it to the airport.

40 days later, my heart is still full.

I’ll say it again… though we wouldn’t give up this opportunity for the world, sometimes you just really, really, really need ‘home.’ And thank goodness to our army of loved ones–this time, ‘home’ came to us.

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when did I know?

Many have asked me when I knew I wanted to become a teacher. Was I always born with the passion to teach? No (but my mom would probably disagree as she recounts a story about me standing in front of the neighborhood children who were all huddled on the grass while I nattered on about… something. Everything!) Did I have an inspirational teacher who made me want to follow this vocation? Yes. I had many teachers who inspired me to think, ask questions, and challenge myself. But they didn’t really persuade me to become a teacher.

My first real teaching experience took place at ISK in Nairobi, Kenya. Though I was affiliated with the school as a volunteer, it was not until I had my first hands-on day with kids, papier mâché, and a lot of fun, that I even fathomed teaching as a career.

All through my credential work, earning my Master’s degree, and 10 years of teaching I liked my job. I was passionate about what I did. I knew I did it well… on most days. And I was proud of the work that I did. But I still didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher.

It wasn’t until just last week (Tuesday, 16 August 2016, 8:00 am to be exact) in my new adopted country of Oman, that I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

I had dropped Rob and the kids off at school for a 7:30 am start time. Then I got back in the car and drove. Away. Did I drive to another classroom at another school? Nope. I didn’t go to a curriculum planning meeting or a school supply store. I went… to a coffee shop! I didn’t know what to do with myself so I ordered a cappuccino and tried to read a book.

About 20 minutes after reading the first paragraph… again… and again, I realized I wanted to be a teacher.

Driving away from school (in a year when there was no ES teaching job available) was one of my lowest moments. How could I share my talents if there were no students to teach? Who would need me (besides my family before and after school)? How was I going to affect change in the community or world? What was going to happen to my PLN of educator contacts and collaborative colleagues? Who was I going to be?

All of these feelings, questions, worries, and value judgements of myself, my career, and my professional reputation weighed on me. And then the tears came. I began to grieve. The feeling was similar grief I had experienced before. It was the grief of death. Of lost love. You know… the type of sorrow that makes your chest ache . That was the feeling I had when I walked away from school, got in my car, and drove away. Complete and total loss.

During that cappuccino I felt useless. Unnecessary. Wasted. And those feelings are terrible on a normal day. But the feelings seemed even more desperate because I had just realized what I wanted to be when I grew up!

So now what? What’s the next step? What the hell am I going to do to wipe these sorrowful feelings from my heart? I don’t know, but I guess I’m gonna have to try something new.

I’m going to make friends, volunteer, write Genius Hour curriculum, try to sell myself, and then… secretly hope a lot of teachers get pregnant so I can get back in the classroom where I belong. Because now. Only now, do I know that I want to be a teacher!

Some of my favorite teaching moments and people who have made me better at what I do: