The more you think about, the more you realize that each day, you’re walking your own Camino.
My husband and I use the term “camino” as shorthand for the The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a pilgrimage across northern Spain that many have walked for centuries. Some day we will walk it. Until then, we try to see that each day is another day on our figurative camino. Some moments are harder than others, but we keep walking.
Over a month ago I returned to the first college I worked at, to show off my 7-month old twins. It had been 3 years since the last time I saw everyone. I mainly visited to see three close co-workers for lunch, but before we had lunch, we took the girls around to visit other student service staff. It was so much fun to see everyone. They wanted to know if the twins were fraternal, how it was going, if they were different or the same… At one point, a past co-worker mentioned that the last time they had seen me, they were sending me off to my next big job. And it hit me: she was right. The last time they saw me, I was leaving to take on a managerial role at another college that was 2 hours away. I had been at Napa Valley College for 9 years, and I had left on a new adventure. Now, only three years later, I have moved back up to the North Bay, away from that new job, and I am a stay-at-home mother with twins. What had happened? Because in that moment, I felt like I had disappointed them. I had disappointed myself.
I realized a week later that I hadn’t once mentioned how much fun I had had at my new job. Or what the campus was like. Or any of the students I had advised. Or what is was like to live in Silicon Valley. During that visit, it was all about the twins, and the last three years of work didn’t matter. All that mattered to me was that we had bought our first home and were now back in the North Bay. So what had happened? What had happened to me? I used to be all about what I wanted to do next in my career. About showing the world that I was ready to lead.
I think if you asked any mother of twins, having two babies at once was not in the plan. Families that use IVF have a big a chance of getting twins, but it’s not a sure thing. Families with twins in their past know that the chance is there, but still nothing is ever for sure. Twins happen when they are meant to happen. Like most things in life.
In 2012, as my husband and I were on our own camino journey, we knew that we wanted a second child. We just didn’t realize we were meant to be twin parents instead. We didn’t foresee that to raise three kids (two babies at once) we were going to have to make some sacrifices, and face the truth that we would need to be near family.
Most of us do not start a new job planning to leave – or expecting the company to close. My husband is a video game designer, and after watching several video game companies close, it might be recommended that video game developers expect the worst. But then how would you ever take risks? How would you ever try something new? When LucasArts went looking for new video game developers, my husband was ready to join the team and found himself working on a project that meant the world to him. But then, on a Wednesday morning in early April of last year, 2 months before the twins were to be born, LucasArts was closed.
Which brings us to today. We left the brights lights of Silicon Valley to enjoy the open fields of Marin County. We have an affordable home and a backyard to call our own. Our “camino” sometimes feels like we are walking a road less traveled. Changes can leave you wondering if you are lost – but then you see a shell along the side of the road and you find your way.
If anything, my Camino has taught me a lot about having inner strength, and that the most powerful super strength you could have is loving yourself for who you were and who you are today. That it is important to keep talking to your partner and to take care of yourself. And that it as important to know who you are when you are working and when you are taking care of children. I have faith in my talents and spirit that I will be back working on a college campus before I know it. The future is always wide open and you just never know what will come to you. And the twins and our son are here for the ride along our Camino – in the back of our Subaru Outback.