Predictable ones, even.
But I do not like choose-your-own-endings.
You know those books as a kid?
The ones where you could pick what happened next in the story?
You ultimately decided the fate of the characters by choosing the ending.
Those books gave me anxiety.
Options overwhelm me.
Big decisions scare me.
So much that I change my mind at least a dozen times.
And analyze every possible scenario.
Until I finally make a decision.
(Then usually change my mind one more time.)
This summer has felt like one of those choose-your-own books...
In case you're new around these here parts,
And a couple years before that, I made a very large change in my life.
I left the corporate world.
An amazing job.
Top-notch benefits. (I only wish I knew at the time that I would never experience those kind of benefits again. Ever.)
But, I happily left those things.
All in pursuit of a dream.
A dream that began in third grade.
I became a teacher.
Teaching is not a job, you see.
It's an around-the-clock responsibility.
Notably if you're new to the profession.
And particularly if you're really good.
And I have given my blood, sweat, and tears to teaching over the past 2 years.
My mind never turns off.
I'm always thinking about my students.
How can I improve yesterday's lesson?
How can I challenge my students who read two grade levels ahead?
What about the kids who are three levels behind?
How in the world am I going to teach statistics and algebra to fourth graders?
What am I going to do in all subjects tomorrow? And Tuesday, and Wednesday and....
I need to buy Kleenexes, 24 notebooks, and card stock when I'm at Target next.
Better respond to that angry dad.
Oh! This would really help my kiddos understand the scientific process!
You get the point.
Teaching is not passing out worksheets.
Or popping in a video when you don't have something planned.
*And it's definitely not having summers off.*
Every second of the day is occupied.
And most evenings and weekends too.
Especially if you care a whole lot.
The problem is, I don't know how to not care.
I tried to take my husband's advice.
He would say,
"Ang, just treat it like a job. Then come home and be with your family."
I would feel empowered.
I'd go to work ready to leave it there for the day.
Then I would get behind.
And once again, I'd get caught in the work-is-my-life web.
This is mostly my own issue.
But it's a wee different with teaching, in my opinion.
Would you want your child's teacher just going to work to do the bare minimum?
I don't have that in me.
I also haven't quite figured out how to give 100% of myself to teaching.
And then come home and give 100% to my baby.
Here's a quick math lesson:
100%+100% = 200%
That's just not possible, my friends.
And then, I was given the gift of sweet summertime.
A time that allowed me to think.
Allowed me to realize a major change was needed.
So my mind began spinning.
Maybe things will be easier after common core has rolled out this year.
Maybe I'll go back just for a year to pay off student loans.
Maybe I want to go back to the corporate world.
Maybe I want a part-time job at Gap.
Maybe I want to open a business with a good friend. *This was a serious possibility*
Maybe I want to stay home with Lyla.
And suddenly I was in a choose-my-own ending book.
So after about 4 weeks of picturing myself in every possible option you could imagine, I finally did what I should have done weeks ago.
I did some serious soul-searching.
Some serious reading of my Bible.
And a lot of praying.
And then I won the lottery.
But I did see things more clearly.
And though my future was incredibly fuzzy, I was absolutely sure about one thing.
It was time to leave teaching.
And like that, I picked up the phone and called my principal.
And my teammates immediately thereafter.
I caught everyone by surprise.
I am no longer a teacher.
I immediately felt like I might throw up.
What did I just do?
It was like saying goodbye to a childhood dream.
Or ending a really, really good book.
I spent an entire day in my classroom.
(And cursing myself for recently spending over $100 on non-refundable resources for next year.
And the fact that I didn't even make a dent in packing.)
But it was incredibly bittersweet.
Waves of sadness hit me out of nowhere.
I just stared at the empty desks.
Marveled at my puny library that took me at least 75 garage sales to build.
Sorted through the hours of work I put into ideas, games, and projects.
Read dozens of "You're the best teacher ever" notes from students.
Remembered song and dance outbursts with my teammates.
Although I'm not exactly sure what my next chapter looks like, I do know I am seeking balance.
All last year, I thought something was wrong with me.
Friends who recently had babies would say, "Things get so much better after a couple of months."
Or they'd say, "I love the balance work provides for me."
But balance is relative.
And I never quite figured out how to give my all to my students and to my family.
Here's what I do know.
I want family as my priority, but not my identity.
I want to work, but not be consumed with work.
So I'm on the prowl.
For the perfect *balanced* opportunity.
And because I'm so horrible with choosing-my-own ending, I'm going to leave that one up to God.
He's a much better writer than I am anyway.
In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every sweet second with a cute little gal who likes to go by Chunkin.
**To all my teacher friends: 1.) I love you all. 2.) I'm coming up for proper "goodbye's" in August. 3.) I still want to be included in all Girls' Nights and inservice lunch dates!!
** To my team: Thank you for being the best. It's hard to imagine, but last year would have been even more difficult without you. You are not co-workers, but lifelong friends. Sorry to put a wrench in our awesomeness. :(