Archive for June 2011

My Own Graduation… Part Two   Leave a comment

I am not a teacher.

I am a stay at home mom. I am a work from home mom. I am an investigator.  I am a homemaker. I am an aspiring writer. I AM a writer.

I am many things but I am no longer a teacher.

This has been hard for me to write.

Harder than I would have expected.

Recently I was faced with the choice of going back to work in August and placing LA in daycare full time, taking another year leave, or just resigning. When I took the original year leave of absence the plan was always for me to go back to work UNLESS (and it was a big unless) we could make it work on one income or one income plus whatever I could bring in. If we could make it work by cutting corners than I would stay home with LA.

It has always been my dream to stay home with my children. I understand why some women need to work and I even understand why some women want to work. But for me I wanted to be home while they were young at the very least. I cannot imagine anything else.

I think when we started the conversation my husband thought it might be best for me to go back to work for our financial sake. Soon after LA was born he was right on board with the fact that I needed to stay home with her.

It helps in the decision making process that I’m a teacher who doesn’t get paid a terrible lot. When you subtract the money for child care I was only bringing home a fraction of my paycheck. When you did the math on sick days we would both need to take or other issues that would arise (would I continue to nurse or pump? what about late nights for work? Would I pick her up when school was out and make her hang out at school with me if necessary? or would she stay later with day care? Would we have to do more vaccines that we were currently planning or earlier?) it just didn’t make sense. It came down to did we want someone else to raise our child during her formative years for us only to receive ___________ a month?

And the answer was no. It wasn’t an amount of money that was worth it.

For me it would never really have been about the money… to me, no amount of money was worth it as long as we could pay our bills.

So with all of that being said we made it. We have had many close calls and we are on a tight little budget but we are learning and getting better. I’m working Part Time from home for Florida Virtual School which helps a great deal. At some point I’ll get back on the wagon of writing and hopefully finish the next Great American Novel (he he)… or I’d be happy with a modestly selling novel that allows me to write another and then another.

So it was time for me to resign!

Or that was the plan…. however I did not.

I chose to take another year leave. Am I planning on returning the year after next? Not really. But I took the extra year for three reasons. The first is our crazy governor Rick Scott. I have tenure and I’m in the system. With all the nonsense he’s doing I’m afraid to let that go quite yet. The second is this crazy economy. Steve has an amazing job and they have been so good to us but it is nice to know I have a full time job with benefits waiting out there if necessary. And to be honest the third reason is I am just having a hard time letting go.

As foreshadowed in the previous post I find that I love teaching more than I ever thought I did and more than I ever even realized.

I was doing an activity with LA in the backyard a bit ago and it made me think of my Creative Writing course. I thought, “Oh that would be a great way to explain that concept to them.” And then I literally felt my heart fall in my chest when I realized that there would not be an opportunity to do that.

I don’t want to rehash what I said about how much I love love love my students or making a difference. It’s all true but I said it before and it will only upset me more.

I felt terrible telling the students who will be there next year that I would not. I was surprised by how much I wanted to be.

It’s just a bit of a shock to me that it was so hard to let go of something I never even thought I wanted. So hard to let go of an identity I never really aspired to. I blame my students for this 🙂

So yes, as many people have pointed out, I can go back. Perhaps I will. If I do it wouldn’t be for five years or more. I would like to have another child or two and I would want them to get into school before I did so it would be a ways off. And who knows if I could get back into the same position I had. I truly loved doing all three publications plus teacihng English, Creative Writing and Humanities.

I had to leave right when I finally got the schedule of my dreams. 🙂 It may not have been a dream schedule to some, in fact many told me it would be their nightmare, but I loved it.

I think too that I’m struggling a bit with my identity. When people ask what I do I fumble for a minute with an answer. I am not ashamed at all of staying at home. I’m not relaxing or taking a break from work… in fact I probably work as hard or harder than I ever did before. I just don’t quite know what to say.

So I will stop whining now.

To my students I will say, “Thank you for ten beautiful years. It has been a gift working with you. You have touched my life and changed me for the good more than you know. I love you… most of you. Just kidding. You have all taught me something and bettered me in some way.”

To my daughter I will say, “This is not a sacrifice. To be with you day in and day out is a joy. A blessing. The answer to a prayer and a dream come true. I would not be able to hand you to another every day and wonder what I would miss. I would be a terrible teacher as I spent all day wondering if you’d scrunched your nose and laughed at the pony, if you’d learned a new word, or simply what you had for lunch. I love that you fall asleep cuddled up against me and I love seeing your arms reach up for me when you are ready for cuddles. You are It.”

To my husband I simply say, “Thank you. Thank you for supporting me in my decision. Thank you for understanding my sadness in letting go. And thank you for the sacrifices you have made so I can be home with LA. You are an amazing man.”

I hope this didn’t come across as whining. I am so incredibly grateful to have this opportunity. It allows me to be home with LA and any future babies and to work on my writing at some point. I think it did just surprise me that it was harder to let go of the rest, harder than I thought. I’m so very happy with how things are…. I was just surprised at my reluctance to move on to the phase I’ve always aspired to. Just goes to show how great those students are again lol

And now on to this next phase of life! Teacher to one… but oh she is a special little one 🙂

LA showing her appreciation 🙂

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Posted June 28, 2011 by etainl in Culture, Cutting Costs, Life, New Mom, Stay at Home Mom

My Own Graduation…I guess Part one   Leave a comment

I wrote this a few weeks ago… it took me a while to finish writing it and get it up. Things have been crazy in my world… both good and bad, often emotional… so here we go. I expect some of the next few posts to be a bit emotional so be warned!

 

Before I tell this tale there are two things you should know about me:

1. I do not take change well. I get attached. I’m emotional. I was the child who couldn’t bear to part with my stuffed animals, for fear their feelings would be hurt.  And this was long before Toy Story 3 told us that this was true. Heck, my mom can tell you I was sad when we got a new couch or a car! Even things that are joyful or that I want desperately can fill me full of angst. Big changes, especially those that come with big decisions make me very apprehensive.

2. I fell into teaching. It was serendipity, God and Fate got together and arranged things. It was meant to me because I also feel like I took to it. You don’t make it as a teacher for 10 years if you aren’t at least pretty good at it. And I like to think I did a good job. I won teacher of the year at one school… I’ve had students tell me I made a difference, parents tell me I helped and I’ve felt good about myself at the end of every year.

With that in mind every year I’ve taught has been bittersweet. There is the relief of another year finished. Being the advisor for the yearbook and the newspaper leaves me feeling like I finished running a marathon (or two), not to mention the general exhaustion that comes from teaching “regular” classes… last year at the end of the year I wasn’t just finishing up yearbook, newspaper, the literary magazine but finishing up teaching Journalism, Humanities, English IV, and Creative Writing II (3 of which were new classes I had to write curriculum for… all while pregnant!)

But it is always hard for me to let go of my seniors. I’m so proud of them and also so sad to see them go. Because I taught publications these were often not students I had for one year but two or three or even four.  I miss them. While they are “mine” I consider them like my own. My husband jokes that he never realized that when he started dating a teacher that he was dating a woman who had over a hundred kids.

I care about them. Besides being their teacher I try to be there for them to listen to their hopes and dreams, their woes and griefs. I try to encourage them to be their best- academically and personally. I love watching their triumphs and I quietly weep with them when they fall.

I love that many of them choose to keep in contact with me. Through the magic of facebook I can keep in touch and see what they are doing. After ten years of teaching I now have students playing College Football, having babies, getting married, graduating college, taking amazing jobs,  traveling the world, serving in the military and doing all sorts of amazing things that I’m immensely proud of. I laugh every year because they are not allowed to friend request me until they graduate and I love seeing the requests roll in after graduation. I joke about the student I tease the most for being the first to friend request their old teacher, now it’s a game who can be first. I currently have students already with their friend requests in… some have had them waiting a year to be “first.”

I love that they have taken the time to send me cards or bring gifts by when my daughter was born. That when I gave an open invitation to come by and meet her that so many of them did, often bringing gifts for LA. It truely touched me.

And I watch them return year after year to visit their old classmates and me. I watch them stand in the classroom that once felt like home and see how it doesn’t quite fit anymore. I remember the sensation from when I was a college student visiting my friends and former teachers in high school.

The place used to fit, you were king or queen there. There was always at least one room that you felt comfortable in. A classroom that you were relieved to go to when you were having a rough day. Kind of like the bar in Cheers… a place where everybody knows your name.

But when you graduate and move on the pieces change and reassemble and you never quite fit the way you did before. It’s normal and it’s good but I can see it on their faces when they leave after that first visit that it is a bit of a shock.

That was how I felt tonight.

I have been on maternity leave for the last year. I left my students in the hands of another teacher. A woman I have known since we were children who has graciously allowed me to help and to be involved in what was going on. But I was not there. This year they were not mine. Not as much.

I went to their end of the year banquet tonight.

It was beautiful. I was so proud of them. So proud of my friend who has done such an amazing job with them.  They honored me and I was so flattered.

But I didn’t fit. They had their inside jokes and their triumphs and I was not a part of them. It was not their fault. I was touched that they did include me every chance they could. Both LA and I were in the end of the year slideshow. They were bouncing around happy to see me arrive. The new editors were excited to show me their new positions. Everyone wanted me to see what they did…. so nothing was wrong. Everything was, actually, good.

But I was still sad. Sad because while I have treasured this year with LA. Treasured not getting up at 6 am every day. Enjoyed the distance from the drama and stress of working in a high school. I missed them. I missed deadlines. Inside jokes. Olive Garden parties. Hearing about their day. Seeing the pictures of prom dresses and new cars.

I knew when I left I would miss them. It was so hard to not be there with them… but it was even harder than I though to let go of the teaching.

And I was also so happy… there is comfort in knowing they can go on without you. That they can still have a good year full of inside jokes and goofy pictures taken on a Mac (when they were supposed to be working!!!! lol) I was happy and proud…. they were well trained and even if I wasn’t there for their last year I had some part in that…

For a career that I did not plan to have I found that I mourned my time away more than I would have expected. And it is because of my students. It is such a blessing and a gift to be allowed to be a part of their lives, even for a short time. I was so proud of them. So sad that I missed their year and so impressed with them that they were so happy for me and so encouraging.

Part two to come….
LA at Banquet  with one of amazing students

Posted June 9, 2011 by etainl in Education, Life, Stay at Home Mom