Monday, July 1, 2013

End of a *really good* chapter

I like happy endings.

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,
I had a baby last year.

And a couple years before that, I made a very large change in my life.
I left the corporate world.
An amazing job.
Fabulous co-workers.
Great pay.
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.
My classroom.
My instruction.

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.
All year.

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.

Not really.

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.
Myself included.

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. :(


Tickled Pink Mandy said...

Oh my goodness friend. My heart is breaking for you. I can't imagine how difficult this decision was for you. I still remember when you announced you were leaving the corporate world for teaching on your blog and how excited you were! I agree 100 percent that you need to do what is right for you and what will make your heart happy. I pray that you find the missing puzzle piece that will help you feel more balance in your life. So important. I look forward to continuing to follow your adventure. XXOO Hugs!

Our family, two feet at a time said...

wOW, Kudos!! Good luck with your new ventures - whatever they may be. I can't believe the courage it took to make that decision, I'm in awe. Good job, good luck and I can't wait to read what your future holds!

Kristen said...

Sometimes I wonder if we are the same person?!?

Our history is definetly the same, I left my (cushy) corporate job for teaching 2 years ago (though I teach HS).

With baby #2 on the way I am in the process of trying to figure out my future in teaching. Teaching is not a job that you can just shut off (hard for non teachers to understand). I am thinking that this year may be my last, at least until my kiddos are older. But when I think about quitting I feel the same way that you described above. My heart started pounding just reading about it.

I keep thinking it would be so much easier if someone would just make the decision for me ;-)

Enjoy your time with your little lady!

Carolyn said...

What a tough decision to make, but I am proud of you making it for yourself and your family! I have faith that you'll find the perfect job for you!

KRISTIN said...

Change is SO hard and I am TERRIBLE at it! Good for you for following your heart and ultimately doing what was best for YOU and no one else! I can't imagine how scary that was! I don't really know much about teaching but would substitute teaching be something that would interest you and/or work with your schedule? No matter what happens it will work out! Enjoy your summer off!

Sherrie Nackel said...

Congrats on your decision. As someone who has BTDT wondering if I should stay at home instead of teach (I took longer maternity leaves with each of my three boys-was off the whole school year with #3 after starting the first 7 days of school-best year ever).

I never did stop teaching and it all worked out for me in the end, but teaching has really changed and it is becoming a more stressful and often thankless job.

Just know that you will never regret choosing your adorable baby. Teaching will always be there for you to return to when it's a better fit for your family.

Hugs and again congrats!

AbbyS. said...

Oh my! Big decisions! You know what is best for you . Thinking of you on your new journey!

Sarah @ Life, Love & Dinner said...

Reading this hits very close to home for me. I am going into my seventh year of teaching and expecting my first baby in September. Teaching is all I've ever done and for that reason I worry that I won't be able to do both jobs the best way I know how, as you said there is no 'off button' for either job. I have felt incredibly burned out the past couple of years, more this year than ever before, and I don't know what that will mean when I have my own baby to care for. It is such a big decision and I commend you for making it. I hope that everything works out for your next steps.

Jenny said...

Girl. I just ended my 7 year teaching career for the same reason. I have a two year old sweetie at home and another baby girl due this fall, and I just don't know how to do both anymore. I totally feel your heartache and applaud your decision! I'm so nervous about the year ahead and NOT teaching everyday, but so excited to be home with my girls! Good luck to you!

Sarah said...

I am so incredibly jealous of your newest career choice! Being a stay at home mom or working part time is my dream! However, we're not able to make that work in Colorado! I'm so impressed that you realized what you needed and made that happen! Props to you and ENJOY!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Sometimes you have to do what is best for you and if it's not teaching then that's it. You will find a great balance and until then you'll get to spend 100% of your time with the baby!

Penny said...

As a school principal, it makes me so sad to see someone as great as you seem, leave teaching. It is definitely something we have to figure out. It shouldn't have to be either/or. Good luck to you!

Lucky in Love said...

I just wanted to say that you are incredibly brave to do this. You figured out what was best for you and your family and you made a change. So proud of you :)

McGriddle Pants said...

OH jeez those benefits. Amica has scarred me for life.

Congrats and good luck friend! I'm so not surprised! You'll have a blast spending time with little babe and The Babe.

You only live once. You'll be just fine and it will be WONDERFUL!

Krista said...

Just catching up on your blog. I had no idea you quit your job! Congrats mama! You had to do what is best for YOU and your FAMILY! Enjoy your balance:)