Five months ago, we took a foreign exchange student, Agathe, into our home. (See post here.)
On Wednesday, I drove Agathe and her suitcases to a new home for the remaining two months of the foreign exchange year. It is a fabulous family with five daughters and a beautiful, big home. Agathe, lucky duck, will have the whole basement to herself.
It was not an easy decision to make, to have Agathe live with another family. We wrestled with it and prayed over it and stressed about it for weeks.
But in the end, it was the right decision. A hard decision, but the right one.
We just didn't have the strength to keep up with everything in our lives. Greg and I took on too many responsibilities this year. We were unrealistic about our own strengths and our own abilities. We went from having no children to having two children in the blink of an eye. We said yes to everything, and then we were surprised when we couldn't do everything. We were going 100 mph all day every day, and that left no time or energy for the things that are most important to us- our marriage and our family.
Part of me feels like a failure. Like we should have been able to stick it out, to do it for just two more months. But we couldn't. At an AP Literature conference I attended a year ago, the presenter encouraged us, as teachers, to strongly encourage all students to take the AP test at the end of the year, even if we knew certain kids were going to fail. The rationale behind that is that colleges are more impressed if a student takes an AP class, takes the AP test, and fails the AP test then if the student takes the class for a year and doesn't even attempt the AP test. To attempt the test, even when the student feels unprepared or inadequate shows character. It shows that the student is a fighter, that the student is tenacious, that the student is not afraid to do hard things- regardless of the likelihood of failure. To take an AP test and fail it is really not failure at all, it is a manifestation of strength and determination. This past week whenever I have felt disappointed in myself for not being able to host Agathe until June I have remembered that AP presenter's speech. I hope that maybe I am like that unprepared AP student- someone who has absolutely no business taking the AP test, but gosh darn it, attempted it anyway.
We love Agathe and will continue to love her and see her often. I will still be her teacher. Tomorrow, in fact, I'll pick her up to play tennis after school. We want our relationship to continue, in spite of her not living with us. The truth is I think it will be much easier for me to be her best friend than her mom. She was sad when we told her that we couldn't keep her until June, but she is a smart and mature teenager, as well as a very sensitive and kind person. She understood.
Sometimes I wonder if we were stupid to say yes to hosting Agathe in the first place. We probably were. But I'm proud of us for trying our hardest, for loving that girl with everything we had, for attempting to do something that we clearly had no business doing. When we had Agathe move in with us I felt strongly that it was the right decision for us. And then when we decided last week to have her live in a different home, I felt very strongly that that was the right decision too. I don't know the answer to everything, and I don't know why we needed to have her in our home for that period of time, but I trust that there was a reason, and I trust that all of our lives are better because of it.
If not, well... then we're just a couple of idiots.