I'm not one for praying, but...

After discussing my educational plans with BF last semester, we agreed that it was probably the best idea for me to hold off on grad school for a year or so after I graduate in May to let me get my feet wet as a teacher and see if it's really what I want to spend my life doing (or at least this part of my life; I definitely plan to have more than one career). I had found a very highly reputed school in New England that had a program for Education of the Gifted and Talented. The program sounded great, two online classes for four semesters and two two-week summer sessions on their campus. But, I agreed to wait, or to hold off on making any real decision.

Well this week I decided to make a decision. I emailed four of my professors requesting recommendation letters, I faxed my transcripts, and I went ahead and took the plunge, filing my application. Of course I told BF what I was doing first, not really looking for advice this time as letting him know what I was definitely doingl. I'm not often so assertive; it's rather empowering. He stil doesn't think it's a great idea, but he can see where I'm coming from. There really was no time for debate, the deadline for application is three weeks away.

I've already received one of my recommendation letters. My professor, an alumnus of the university I'm applying to, sent me a copy of the letter containing the most glowing praise I've ever read. It was almost embarrassing. If the rest are even close to that I think I've got a pretty good chance at acceptance. I'm really excited for the first time in a great while about my education. I was in a gifted program in elementary school and my times there were some of the best of my school days. I would love to be involved in one of those programs.

I'm also nervous about my education for the first time. When I was a senior in high school I really didn't think much about college; I thought my mediocre grades would keep me out of any good school, so I pretty much accepted community college as my only option and they accept everyone, so there were no nerves there. I did apply to one good school, only because they were local and they had a free application if you filed online. I was shocked when they accepted me; I had graduated with a 2.1 GPA. I can only assume that my high SAT scores (30 points short of a perfect verbal and an above average math) were my ticket in. But once I looked at how much money my parents made and how much money the school cost and how much debt I was going to be in after graduation, I politely declined their invitation and enrolled in community college at about a tenth of the price, which the state paid for in full (sometimes it pays to be poor). After I earned my A.S, I transferred to a bigger, better school downtown under an agreement that they had with my community college. All I had to do was keep my grades over 3.0 and they would accept all of my courses as fulfillment of their freshman/sophomore curriculum.

So now I'm in a wholly new place, I actually want this and it's not guaranteed. There are no other programs like it in the country. No backup school. If they don't accept me, I'll just teach high school history as I planned, get married as planned, and reapply once I've got some employment references. And cry of course. I've never won anything, but it's generally because I haven't tried. As come easy. Professors like me. But this is a whole new realm and hopefully a whole new journey.


I do not like them Sam I am!

I'm just sitting here watching tv with our sweet little man who has the incredibly annoying habit of asking "What's that doin'?" about whatever happens to be on the screen every thirty seconds or so. Every week his personality changes; the week before Christmas I changed his diaper and he screamed the whole time that he wanted his dad to do it. That was also the phase of his total refusal to hug, kiss, or tell me he loved me. This week and last he's a little cuddle bug. He climbs up on the couch and fits his little body against my side and cuddles while we watch TV or read Dr. Seuss - "Do you like green eggs and ham?" - and then there's the wonderful fact that I can actually make him smile again, rather than scrunching up his face and giving me "But I don't waaaant to" or "But I have to" for the sixteenth time that hour.

He probably doesn't remember a time when his parents were together, after all, they were only really together for the first ten months or so of his life. By his first birthday, things were falling apart pretty rapidly; a month later they made the decision to separate. So he won't ever have memories of them together and when he actually starts forming memories, he'll feel like I've always been here. My training in educational and child psychology assure me of this. They also assure me that these mood changes are normal phases for a toddler to go through as they root around for the balance between independence and attachment and discover that they can manipulate their environments to suit their will. Hell, even his mother has remarked at what a defiant little hellion he's been.

But these phases are hard as hell to take as a step-parent. I thought, coming in to this situation, that the actual activities of parenting: diapers, nap time, screaming, time outs. keeping him from harming himself and everything else that a mom gets to deal with, would be the tough part. That stuff was cake compared to having a normally sweet and loving two year old look you in the face and tell you he doesn't love you. Talk about tearing my heart out.

The fact that I am not really his parent and that he does not just automatically love me is always hovering just on the edge of my consciousness, ready to pop in and give a villainous cackle. And then I get frustrated with myself; I know this child loves me, I know he loves to spend time with me, I know that he comes to me for comfort and for fun, but oooh two year olds can be cruel.

Right now things are wonderful and as long as I remind myself that it could be far worse, I could be trying to get a ten year old to love me, I do pretty well. It's even hard not to think of him as my own, as I would be delighted to be "Mom" rather than "my Rachel," but he adores his mom and I wouldn't have it any other way. I just hope that I continue to be his "Rachel" as he grows up (which seems to happen in leaps on a daily basis).