It finally happened. Over the past two years I have heard more than my fair share of “my divorce was the best worst thing that ever happened to me.” And the “some good WILL come out of this pain,” and ” you will come out the other side happier than you have ever been.” I was starting to think that none of that would ever apply to me. Thankfully, some of that light poked its head through the clouds tonight. I’ll take a few steps back and explain how I got here.
When I got pregnant with the second of my three kids, my husband was knee-deep in the launching of a high tech startup. Long hours, lots of travel and all of the stress that comes along with launching a startup made it difficult for us to be a two-career family. My husband and I made the decision that I would stay home with the kids. And while being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t always the easiest job, I was very grateful to have been able to spend that quality time with all of my kids.
When my youngest child started kindergarten, I realized that I had quite a bit of free time during the day when all three kids were at school. But since by then my husband was working on startup number two, a full time job wasn’t going to be any more feasible then than it had been ten years earlier. Seeing the various substitute teachers that came and went in my kids’ classes, I realized that I could do a much better job than most of them. I promptly got my substitute teaching credential and began what has now been a 12 year job as a sub at the elementary school my kids attended. It was perfect, the kids and I could essentially commute to and from school together. I became the go-to sub at the school (believe me, it is not difficult to rise to that rank, the bar is set painfully low) and got to be part of my kids’ lives at school as well as at home. My youngest graduated from the school more than six years ago…..and I’m still there.
But when my husband moved out and divorce became inevitable, I realized that being a substitute teacher, and making what amounted to little more than pocket change, I needed to find myself a new gig. Having been out of the traditional job market for almost 20 years, I saw little opportunity available to me. Without going back to school for an advanced degree or vocational training there just wasn’t much out there for an educated, but rather unskilled middle aged divorcee.
When I signed up for yoga teacher training about four years ago it had nothing to do with a desire to actually teach yoga. I was more interested in deepening my own personal practice. But on a whim, I decided to approach the principal of my school to see if the possibility existed for me to start a yoga and mindfulness program for the students. I didn’t have high hopes, but really, what was there to lose?
To my great surprise my principal loved the idea, but he cautioned me that it would be an uphill battle to get the program approved and funded. Months of frustration followed as things went through the school district, school board, PTA and the education foundation. My hopes were dimming. It was a wonderful shock when four months later, we were given the go-ahead to use a one-time education foundation grant to start the yoga and mindfulness program….yay!! Yoga mats were purchased, I set up in an unused classroom and set out scheduling 30 minute sessions with each classroom at our kindergarten through 5th grade school — about 14 classes per week.
The kids, and teachers, took to the program and it felt like a success, but I worried that when the grant was gone, so would this new dream job. As the end of that first year approached, I heard from the PTA that they would be taking over the funding of my program — telling me that it was the only non-academic program their kids came home and talked about. Again…..yay!!
Fast forward to tonight at our district’s school board meeting. My principal was using our school’s “spotlight” to highlight the yoga and mindfulness program. I knew that he had sent out a request for teachers and students to write about the program or even attend the meeting to speak about it in person. I was pretty excited as it was, but when I walked in the door to see at least 6 families walking into the meeting — I could not stop smiling. My students, as is typical when they see their teachers outside of school, were excited to see me. But what wasn’t typical, for me, at least, was to have their parents tell me how much they appreciate what I do….I had to work hard to hold back the tears. But man, when those kids got up and told the school board how much they love yoga, mindfulness, pranayama and meditation, I can’t even describe how fantastic it was. It seems so corny to say, but I was bursting with pride.
When we were all told we could leave the meeting so that the kids could go home and finish their homework and the board could get back to boring school board matters, the kids gathered outside the room and showed their parents their favorite yoga poses (mostly the impressive looking crow pose) and asked me to pose for photos with them. Each parent thanked me and one even told me that she would make sure that the PTA will not only continue to fund my program, but she will also push to expand it. Wow!
Again, so corny, but true….I cried tears of happiness and gratitude all the way home. I haven’t felt this much pride and joy in a very long time. And had my husband not left me, I never would have had this experience. I’m not sure why — old habits die hard, I suppose, and I guess I still haven’t fully given up the need to share my accomplishments with my ex — but I called him on the way home. I told him that I was grateful he left me so that I could have this experience. He seemed irritated to hear from me and I don’t imagine that telling him I appreciated him leaving me helped matters. But it seems time for me to move on from that need to have someone else validate me. Tonight, at least, I was able to validate myself, with a little help from some amazing little yogis.
I’m not naive enough to believe that my sadness is gone for good or that life will suddenly be all rainbows and unicorns, but it’s a start. A very big start.