Chapters

by tamarjacobson

Quote of the day

I've been siftin' through the layers
Of dusty books and faded papers
They tell a story I used to know
And it was one that happened so long agoKate Wolf

These past few days I have been summarizing my professional life.

Laying it out, organizing, categorizing, displaying, and compartmentalizing it in distinct sections when in reality there are so many connections throughout and within each. How does one take a life and divide it into chunks separate from one another?

And as I sift and sort in this enormous, silent house, alone as life partner has traveled far across the world, days and sleepless nights melt one into the other, and memories of the past forty years rise up in unexpected moments, jumping out of faded papers, and startling me through restless dreams. Just like so many early childhood professionals, my path has taken many twists and turns: first as a preschool-kindergarten teacher in Israel; then as undergraduate and graduate doctoral student, university instructor, and director of child care centers in Buffalo; professor, chair of department, and coordinator in New Jersey; presenter, author, and consultant everywhere; and all the while mother, daughter, life partner, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, and friend.

Now and again I stop to look back over older blog posts. The ones I included at the end here were especially interesting to me these past few days. For I realized while reading back that the month of July represents loss – of dear friends, my cat, and especially leaving my home in Israel for America twenty four years ago. Grief has often been my companion through each step I took in my profession. Mostly, I did it alone, often without support or encouragement, and, at times, even in spite of criticism and shaming. Memories of my achievements are accompanied by trepidation. It has been exhausting. And yet, each time, I somehow managed to overcome my fears with a kind of passionate inner will – a force driven by hope. 

The past few days I have been challenged by migraines, trembling, weeping, and restless sleep. Each morning I rise up and try again and again to put into words what I think has been my contributions to the early childhood profession. I am blocked by feelings of worthlessness. Specifically, that I am not deserving – I am nobody. I am not sure why I feel the need to prove myself at this late stage in my career, but the opportunity has presented itself and, once again, it seems that I am taking it on in spite of my ancient wounds and haunting fears.

The storm within has not yet passed, but this morning I see a glimmer of light on the horizon. Gathering inner strength, I am reminded of a poem that Carrie, a student of mine, once gave me, with much love, and for support and encouragement, during the first few years in Buffalo:

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Seven years ago at Tamarika: Back in Buffalo & The last breath

Six years ago at Mining Nuggets: Alone and strong