I am about to embark on the biggest adventure (outside of giving birth) of my life. I will be studying abroad this Summer to study French and Art History in the birthplace of many important art and literary movements: Paris.
For those of you who know me, this is a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I have slowly been working toward my degree in Studio Art, minoring in French Language for many years. It has been a long struggle, and it will continue to be so for many years yet. Working full-time to provide for a family, going to school part-time to achieve my lofty goals, and trying to be the best mother I can be. It's a juggling act, a lot of hats, whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day, it all defines me as a person. The fuel that keeps me going is my children. I entered into this crazy lifestyle to provide for them and also to be a positive role model. I want them to know that you CAN achieve your dreams. It may be through hard work and dedication, but it can be done. And it will be done.
The only heartbreak about my semester in Paris is that I will be away from my children for 4 weeks. And even worse, I will miss my eldest daughter's birthday. She says she's fine with it because a.) she'll get two parties out of the deal, and b.) Mommy will just have to buy her a present in France. My youngest daughter is going to miss me although right now she's enjoying learning French via CD in my car. Even though she is only 4, she realizes it is not a permanent situation. Daddy, being a touring musician, has been gone for weeks at a time in the past, in which we communicate via video chat. But this is the longest Mom will have ever been away. Despite my insane work and school hours, I am there for my daughters to take them to music lessons, ballet class, birthday parties, etc. I've always strived to be as involved as time permits. Skipping classes to go to awards ceremonies, staying up late to work on my own school work to help my girls out with theirs are all things that I've learned to do. But actually being gone for a month. I know that it won't be easy for any of us, especially me. I am bringing my trusty laptop and utilizing Google video chat to keep that link home while I am in a foreign country. I just hope that is enough.
There is this fear that I have, that when my children are grown they'll say, "Mom was never there." and think of how selfish I was, "Remember when she went off to Paris for a month and missed my birthday?" I hope that they don't view it this way in hindsight and remember historical context. I am going for them as much as I am going for myself. The decision to further my studies abroad was to have an enriching and personally fulfilling experience that will inspire my art, my global perspective, and my sense of being. I also hope to bring back from Paris experiences and lessons to share with my family. Will they remember that in twenty years? I hope so.
I love my husband and children with all my heart, but my heart tells me that this semester abroad is the right thing to do. My heart also tells me that I need to keep moving forward and making myself a better person. I may not be living the typical American motherhood, but I am living my life in a way that shows my children that there is more to life than what you see day to day.
The real lesson is Hard work = Rewards. This is a hard won reward... and actually, the reward in itself is also hard work.