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!
Disclaimer: I promised this wouldn’t turn into a “mommy blog” and I intend to keep it that way. This post will use the word “mom” a lot, and because of that I debated whether or not to share it here. I decided, yes, it applies, because it’s less about my daughter and more about how I prioritize life. That can apply to anyone, parent or not.
Not long after my daughter was born, I got an iPhone. Yes, I finally caved and joined the smart phone world. I’ll admit, it’s been nice. It’s so much easier to look things up, answer e-mails, etc, one-handed while holding a baby. Plus, Netflix kept me from going completely crazy during that first month of all-nighters.. However, the other day as I sat feeding my daughter and looking things up on my phone, I realized how easy it would be to fall into that pattern. As nice as the smart phone is, I don’t want to be that mom who’s staring at her phone all the time. I started thinking about reading. Digital books are nice and convenient, but I want to read physical, paper books now more than ever. I want my daughter to see me reading, not staring at a phone. That led me to the whole concept of leading by example. So much of my adult life has been defined by my career and my role as a wife. Entrance into motherhood seems like a good time to take another look at my life-priorities and how I spend my time. What traits do I want my daughter to see modeled in me and learn from me as she grows up? I grabbed a piece of paper (which was thankfully within arm’s reach) and started jotting down the kind of mom – the kind of person – that I want to be.
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.
It’s been a busy several weeks. Subbing has kept me on my toes – I haven’t worked every day, but I’m working more often than not. Most of my work comes from the neighborhood public school, which is a convenient location, but I’ve been less than impressed with the school itself. In a town of less than 3,000 people, there simply aren’t enough students to achieve a balance of attitudes. The end result is that the disruptive, disrespectful kids tend to dominate the school, creating a negative culture that often just drains me. I’ve been ignored, talked over, and sworn at on a regular basis. Not that I haven’t faced that kind of behavior before at bigger schools – I have, and much worse (at least no one here is throwing punches yet), but usually there’s also the opposite side of the coin to balance out all the negative. Usually there are good kids who band together for solidarity against the crappy attitudes and give us teachers some breathing room and hope for humanity. This school is just too small, so the handful of good kids cower in the corner or sit by in silence while their loud, obnoxious classmates overrun the school.
A friend recently sent me a book recommendation with the comment that she thought of me when she read it because she knew I had “a passion for intentional adulthood.” I don’t think I’ve ever used that exact term before, but it is a good description. Growing up doesn’t just happen. Careers, education, and success don’t accidentally appear in someone’s life – at some point people need to act, choose, and pursue the kind of lives they want. Those words all imply intentionality. Yes, opportunities come unexpectedly, and new interests surprise us sometimes, but only if we’re out living life instead of sitting back waiting for it to happen.
Passive education doesn’t even look realistic. (Image credit: Wikipedia)
For students, this means engaging in active learning and taking personal responsibility in their education and maturation. For adults, this means pursuing a goal with purpose. We can and should be intentional in our careers, communities, and families. Make the decision to achieve something, and then take the steps necessary to make it happen.
However, the problem with intentional living is that we can’t do it in a vacuum. We live among other people, and what they do impacts our lives, too. What happens when life isn’t all smooth sailing? Keep reading!
We live in a world that thrives on media hype. Forget the details and facts. Forget context, background, and objectivity. Forget innocent until proven guilty. Instead, a video/picture/tweet of something offensive goes out and becomes viral, and suddenly the public at large decides it’s time to voice its outrage.
I’m going to try to write this post without sparking debate on any one specific current event. Is that possible? I’m not sure. I want to discuss not the right and wrong of individual incidents, but the overall phenomenon of viral anger.
What gets me about it is that people’s lives are affected (ranging from inconvenienced to completely ruined, depending on the level of the media-based outrage) because the public decides they should be – and in some cases, the public is wrong! Check out this article about a waitress who claimed she didn’t receive a tip because she’s gay. If you have the stomach for it, scroll down and read the comments, all negative and often profane, all passing sweeping judgments on conservatives in America. When the story broke, the waitress received donations of financial support from complete strangers, while those same strangers hurled venomous hatred towards the supposedly offending family.
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’m really bothered by social media based activism. When did we as a culture decide we needed fads to inspire us to give?
I’ve had this topic sitting in my mind for a while. I wanted to pick a good time to post it – not in the middle of any frenzy where it could be taken as a knee-jerk reaction to any one trend, but still close enough for those examples to be fresh in our minds. As we come off the hype of the ice bucket challenge, I think now is a good time.
I’ll begin by saying that while I did not participate in the challenge myself (no one nominated me, thank goodness), my husband did. He did it for a lot of the same reasons other people did – someone nominated him, and he figured it wasn’t a bad thing to do. It became the topic of a lot of real-life conversations in the days that followed, though – how he was going to handle the financial aspect of the challenge, who he’d give the money to, and the involuntary aspect of being “nominated to give”.
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!)