Reflections from the Pause Button

I should write something.

That thought has passed through my head multiple times over the past few *ahem* months since my last update.  I’ve tried a few times.  I came close to a complete post once, but nothing ever came to fruition.  And yet, I still keep getting new followers and new comments on old posts, constant reminders that my blog isn’t dead yet, and I really should do something to make sure it stays that way.  So here I am.

While I haven’t been writing about it, my career has been on my mind a lot lately.  Gwen is over three months old.  If I’d had a job this year, I’d be done with maternity leave by now.  I’d be back in the classroom instead of home with her, watching her grow and change with each new day.  I’m so glad I have this time with her.

And, if I’m honest, I’m glad I’ve had this time, period.  I think back to my mental state this time last year.  I was feeling the culmination of six years of sacrifice, heartache, and uncertainty – and I was a mess.  I kept that mess pretty well hidden most of the time.  I projected the happy, confident teacher persona that carried me so well through so many other jobs and schools.  I clung to the “just keep moving forward” focus that had been my defense mechanism for so many years.

But there were moments when the mess crept to the surface.  I’d sit in the back of chapel twice a week and tear up almost every time.  If they played the right song or hit the right nerve in the message, I’d lose it.  Sometimes the tears would fall silently right there, and sometimes I’d lock myself in the faculty bathroom afterwards and sob.  Even before I found out I wasn’t being asked back, all my frayed nerves and questions from the last six years were finally starting to show.  And once I was officially let go… I even (rather embarrassingly) broke down crying in a faculty meeting once.  The professional in me is not proud of that.

I realized something a few weeks ago.  I’ve experienced way more heartbreak in my career than I ever did in my love life.  I don’t know if someone who hasn’t experienced it can fully understand the emotional investment that goes into teaching.  Not counting subbing and other odd jobs, I’ve worked full-time in four different high schools.  Twice I chose to leave to follow my husband, and twice I was told there wasn’t room for me anymore.  Either way, there were tears every time, whether it was in an administrator’s office, behind the closed door of a friendly French teacher’s classroom, or sitting in the gym with my arms around two heartbroken middle schoolers.

For six years I started over and over again.  For six years I constantly looked ahead, actively searching for the next job, putting each subsequent heartbreak behind me with grim determination as I pushed forward in survival mode.  And I did it.  I survived.  Some might even say I thrived.  I gained a wealth of experience to back up my passion – but man, it took its emotional toll on me.  I just wouldn’t admit it until that final blow last spring.

So I’m thankful for this time at home.  For once, I’m not living under the pressure of what’s next.  I’m not stressed over finding the next source of income, the next apartment, the next move.  I’m just living, and it’s so nice.  I watch my chunky, happy baby with her hints of red hair, and I’m able to enjoy these moments with her.

When people ask what I’m up to these days, I always respond “I’m staying home – for now.”  And that “for now” is still really important to me.  I don’t know when or how I’ll pick back up the pieces of my career again, but I know I still want to someday.  While I’m not actively looking for a job, I still have my connections at the school where I taught last spring, and part of me had hoped they’d find a way to hire me for next year, at least part-time.  Last year’s sophomores will be seniors next year, and I wanted to be back to see them again before they graduated.

That’s my one big regret, the one thing I feel I’ve missed out on as a teacher.  I’ve never repeated a year at a school, so I’ve never seen the progression of a student or a given class over the years.  I’ve never seen the just-out-of-middle-school freshmen turn into the senior leaders.  I’ve never had a student I taught return to my classroom to visit me.  I’ve never been there for them to visit.  My first class of seniors are (hopefully) college-graduated adults now, and I have no clue what happened to any of them.  Not one.  The same is true for every single class I’ve ever taught.  I’ve never stuck around to see who they become – and isn’t that supposed to be one of the great joys of being a teacher?  I really want to experience that just once before I call my career over.

It’s not over.  God just hit the pause button for the time being, and that’s OK.  Where we are now, the stability we’ve finally found in my husband’s job and our current community is such a blessing.  I know that when the time is right, it’ll be my turn again.

So thanks for sticking with me through all this!

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9 thoughts on “Reflections from the Pause Button

  1. I’ve joined in on following your blog pretty recently (in the last twelve hours, to be honest), but reading this post is so inspirational to me, as a college freshman. Sometimes, I don’t know where I’m going, but this post reminds me that where I am right now is a pretty great place to be. I just want to wish you good luck for the future!!!

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  2. You are a very inspiring lady.
    As someone who always felt a close bond with teachers, this post was important to me. I hope one day to run into those who made such an impression on me and on my life. I hope they are proud.
    Enjoy your little girl!

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  3. From a fellow teacher, I understand the struggles. Glad to see you’re still fighting! Keep it up and stick with it. I’m sure you have touched many hearts! 🙂 I look forward to reading more!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I totally relate to your feelings! After finishing grad school and earning my master in teaching degree, I really wasn’t sure I wanted to teach in public schools in the US. I still am not sure but I am happy to be where I am, like you, because it’s no use worrying about the future.

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  5. I bet that is the most challenging bit about blogging, the continuity. I’ve just set up a blog. With people still reading and commenting and liking previous posts shows the relevance of what you’re writing. keep going 🙂

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