I got that pang again the other day, the “it’s back to school time and I don’t have a job” sinking feeling in my gut. I’ve felt it too many times, often enough to have a name for it.
I am glad for the past year at home. As I’ve said before, I think I needed it. But every time someone brings up how good it is that I can be a stay-at-home mom, I’m quick to jump in with the “for now.” It’s a gut response, a primal instinct to defend the career I worked so hard to establish, a refusal to let go of dreams that have been pushed to the back burner yet again. I poured so much of myself into becoming a good teacher, and I’ve haven’t really seen that work come to fruition in the ways that I’d hoped yet. Yes, being at home is a blessing. This time with my daughter is as precious as it is irreplaceable. But those dreams haven’t gone away. It’s still hard watching my teacher friends prepare for another school year. A good friend just finished training to teach AP Literature, and while I’ve loved hearing about it, man, I’m jealous!
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.
Hanging on our wall next to our wedding photos is another picture of Dan and I, taken exactly eleven years ago on Feb. 7th, 2004. It’s us on our first date – an 18 year old me in a recycled prom dress with a 20 year old Dan before he rocked his current beard-and-shaved-head style. We look so different, so young. At least in our wedding photos he’s sporting the beard.
I see that picture every day and think about the journey that began that day. We’ve been a couple for eleven years. You go through a lot of change in that much time, and we’ve seen more than our share of adventures, as you all know. Eleven years. Ten different homes in six different states. Two doctorates for him. Twelve education-related jobs for me. Four cars. Countless sleepless nights and stressed-out prayers thrown out to heaven in desperate attempts to make ends meet and find our next step.
And now, one precious little daughter.
Sometimes waiting makes things seem so far away
It’s amazing how much time we spend in life waiting. I’ve waited for jobs, for apartments, and for answers that never came. I’ve waited for phone calls, for a student to finally get it, and for things to finally settle down.
Right now I’m waiting for the ultrasound that will tell me my baby’s gender and for the months to pass until I’ll get to meet him or her. I’m waiting for the first phone call asking me to sub this year, and in the long run, I’m waiting to find out what God has in store for my career.
You’d think we’d get used to it, all this waiting. You’d think that we’d finally understand that anxiety doesn’t make the waiting easier, that patience is (usually) rewarded, and no matter how much or how little we wonder about and anticipate things, what will happen will happen.
I’ve dropped a lot of hints that things are changing in my life, and I’ve wrestled a lot with how and when to make this announcement online. In the end, the best way is to just come out and say it.
(OK, deep breath…)
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m pregnant, due February 3rd.
We found out at the end of May, soon after Dan landed his job, while I was still wrapping up finals at my last teaching job. Friends and family have known for a while, but we’ve decided to forego the big “Facebook announcement.” It seems like such a personal thing to publicly announce to hundreds of people, most of whom I never speak to in real life. And yes, I see the irony of saying that on my blog, but I kind of have to announce it here. After all, I write about my life, and this changes everything. Plus, you’ve made an investment in my life just by spending time on this blog. In my mind, that’s more significant than just clicking “like” on a Facebook post. (So if you are Facebook friends with me, can we keep this news off there a little longer, please? Thanks!)
It’s taken me a while to figure out that “back-to-school” time does bring changes for me this year, despite my lack of employment. Initially, I watched the hype unfold with a sense of detachment. I walked past sale racks of notebooks and pens without feeling the urge to walk through and pick out fun new stuff. My friends went to their meetings, posted pictures of classrooms on Facebook, and even asked my advice on curriculum, but none of it seemed to really apply to me. It wasn’t until I drove past a school building and saw kids and parents streaming in and out of it that I was jolted into reality.
My plan is to sub this year. It’s my fallback when I don’t have other consistent employment, and all-in-all, I don’t hate it. It gets me into the classroom, spending time with teenagers, using the skills that make me good at what I do. Sometimes it leads to connections and more long-term work, too. And of course, subbing leads to stories that make good blog posts. 🙂
I am surrounded by boxes. My one-bedroom apartment has exploded in a sea of cardboard, bubble wrap, and packing tape. So what am I doing? Procrastinating by writing a long-overdue blog post, of course.
Confession time: I’ve been absent from my blog for a while not only because it’s summer, but also because I think I’m experiencing temporary professional burn-out. I’ve been in a constant fight to maintain my career for five years. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but it was mentally and emotionally exhausting. While I kept up a brave face, being let go from my last job knocked me off balance more than I admitted even to myself. After five years of constant fighting and overcoming, that blow hurt. A lot. It still does. Now that the financial pressure is off (due to my husband’s amazing job opportunity), I gave myself permission to take a mental break from ambition and take some time to recover.
Life is full of change, completions and beginnings, starting over and moving on. I attended a college graduation party this weekend. We had senior awards chapel this morning in school, and in a little over a week, those seniors will graduate high school. This is the time of year that we celebrate all that. This is the time of year that we acknowledge achievements and impart advice for the next step.
So here’s what I’ve learned:
Life comes in seasons. There will always be change. There will always be goodbyes, transitions, and new starts. I’ll admit that my life is an extreme example of this, but even without constantly relocating, life will never stay exactly as it is now. And that’s OK.
I have eleven different education-related jobs listed on my resume. Eleven jobs in six years. That’s not counting the filler jobs like nannying or that time I worked for the children’s theater, either. Teaching, subbing, tutoring, test prep, program development… I’ve pretty much done it all by now. And I’ve walked away from it all, too. My nomadic life following my husband makes for an interesting work history.
I thought I’d found somewhere I’d finally get to stay. I thought I was done updating my resume for a while.
I was wrong. I have to walk away again.
It’s teacher appreciation week, when excess (and excellent) food appears in the teacher’s lounge and Chipotle offers a free burrito to anyone with a valid teaching ID. It’s a good week. Some of the parents at my school are ordering Chinese for the whole staff tomorrow, and yesterday a stack of papers covered in notes from my students appeared in my school mailbox. It’s nice to be appreciated.
In the spirit of teacher appreciation week, I want to take a moment to reflect on the individuals who constantly inspire me to be a better teacher. I am surrounded by amazing, quality teachers. Yes, I have seen my share of less-than-inspiring teachers, too, but I am honestly awed by the caliber of individuals that are also in this field with me.