Anyone else ever dread social events (1) because of the social expectations of minding your manners, and (2) because of the dreaded question, “So, what do you do for a living?” 

Since I was a child, I wanted to know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was always baffled and jealous by those that knew.  I could imagine myself doing a wide variety of jobs, because they all seemed interesting at some level.  I mean who wouldn’t want to become a vet and render aide to sick animals or be a photographer and get paid to see and capture amazing sights and events, right?

When I graduated from high school, the pressure just intensified.  It was now my turn to provide for myself and set up a life that was conducive to raising a family, my real dream job.  I knew, for me, that I had a lot of maturing and living life to do before I’d make a good wife or mother, though.  What should I do in the meantime that would help me experience the world and develop common sense?  I needed life experiences that would shape me into a better person and thus a better mother.

Through a series of events that aren’t necessarily logical, I became an elementary teacher.  Knowing my interests and strengths at the time, I would have never predicted that decision.  I had looked into architecture, engineering, and the like.  I was a shy perfectionist that loved hiding from social interactions by studying, reading, analyzing data, building . . . anything other than interacting with people.  I still don’t really understand how I got into teaching, but at no surprise to me, I was a horrendous teacher.  I was baffled when kiddos weren’t interested in dryly presented facts or were tempted to (aghast) . . . talk out of turn. 

For the first time in my life, I was presented with something that (1) I wasn’t good at, and (2) I couldn’t really figure out what to do to make myself improve.  There were so many “soft skills” I didn’t have: empathy, patience, tolerating gray (instead of black and white answers).  Skills that only life could teach, and man, did it. 

Not surprisingly, I never became a good teacher, but my prayers had been answered; I had become more ready for motherhood.  My students, by their words and actions, had taught me to feel their sadness and disappointment.  Parents had reminded me when I did not show these qualities because I had unrealistic expectations of their babies.  The pedestal I had built for myself to stand on had been kicked out from underneath me as I was surrounded by veteran and new teachers that were baffled by my incompetence.  They effortlessly managed their classrooms, taught their content, and more importantly built relationships with their students and families. 

I learned to be okay with not having or even being able to find the answer.  I learned to be okay with chaos, and most importantly, I learned to pay attention to the people around me.  I learned to see things from other people’s perspective other than my own, and I learned empathy, a much-needed life skill.

In all my planning, wishing, and hoping to have a career that I loved, God had worked in me a much more needed outcome in life.  I had started to live a life that allowed others to enter my world.  My students and I experienced having pets such as hermit crabs and salamanders.  We started a garden in the spring so that we could experience the joy of growing our own food, but now that I think of it, I don’t remember any of those plants producing fruit.  One of my fond memories was hosting my students on the family farm to show them where their food comes from. 

To my students, my colleagues, and my administrators, I am sorry that I entered your worlds so grossly underprepared, but thank you.  Thank you for allowing me in and teaching me so much about the priorities of life.

I often think of these kiddos that God placed in my life, and I feel sorry for them and their lack of education while under my care, but I am so thankful for them.  I think of the teachers that shared my room, that let me enter their rooms, and took time to let me cry or gave me ideas to improve what I was doing.  Thank you.  You will forever have a soft place in my heart and memories, because you put my needs ahead of yours if even for an instant. 

Looking back, I may never understand how I got into education, and at the age of forty-two, I still don’t have a career to speak of.  I have dabbled in many hobbies that those early days have opened for me.  I’ve experienced life more richly since those days, and I now welcome new experiences, especially when I get to meet new people.  As many of you know, I am the face of our farm now that we sell straight to the public.  An irony that I am sure many of us are aware of when we look back at the unsure and timid kid we all remember. 

Now I realize that we all have a story to tell, and we can all learn from each other, even when we disagree.  None of us should strive to be like another unless you find a characteristic that is emulating Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).  I also believe that unless we are willing to share our stories, we will continue to grow apart and slowly only notice the things that separate us, because unfortunately, that exists as well (Hebrews 10:25).  Like many things in life, you’ll find what you are looking for: our similarities or our differences. 

Just like in my early days, I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know that as long as Christ is with me, I am excited to experience it (Galatians 2:20).  And, as always, we enjoy those interactions with y’all whether it is a comment about our daily verses, blogs, or Nana’s recipes.  Each comment, share, and feedback becomes a fiber of our intricately woven family as we become a small part of y’all’s when you integrate what we share into your family.

— Written by Kati