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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Still Unsure

What if you were finally given your dream job.... and still were unsure if it was the path you were meant to take?  How do you know what turn you should take when that road forks?  When both roads seem "well traveled" and laden with selfish desires?  When the wrong choice could have unforeseen consequences for those you love the most?  When you can't help but wonder if your selfishness is taking over?  I'm turning to my blog even though I should probably muddle this alone.  I'm posting this because I have been prayerfully asking this question for over a year now.  I think I find the answer.. then I find myself asking the same question again.  And the truth is - it doesn't matter which answer I come to - I still question.  So the fork in the road looks like this....

If I continue down the path I am on, I will go back to work.  I will continue teaching.  I love teaching.  I  love my students.  I have always felt this was my path.  I also feel like I have the ability to make a difference.  I want to make a difference.  If you asked me what I was good at, I would probably tell you teaching... maybe a little delusional... but when you are passionate about something - you are just passionate.

Other than the satisfaction of my job, we will also have the extra income.  This allows us to take trips and do things with our kids.  We can go to the "explore" museum, see Thomas, etc..... - things the kids like.  We will be able to buy a bigger house and have a little more space. (In the winter - my blogs may take a downturn as it is difficult living with all 5 of us in less than 1500 square feet.)  We will be able to move to a different school district - our preferred district - for when the kids start school.  The twins are loved by their sitter.  See post HERE for more details on that.  They fully get love, nurture, quality time ... all those things.  Alexander is loved by his nurse.  I mean loved.  She takes great care of him.  And, I know - many will say - they are not you ... but they honestly are the next best thing.  There is also the issue of therapy.  Alexander gets better therapy when his nurse is here.  Her sole job is to take care of him, so she makes sure he gets in his stander every day, etc.   I feel like we are much more relaxed and some days he gets a lot of therapy and some days we are really busy.

So ... the short list is: Pro's ... Pure enjoyment of teaching, job Satisfaction, time with adults, the knowledge that I'm making a difference, extra money, bigger house, better school district, and the children are well cared for.

Why the dilemma?

First - I'll allow myself to be the martyr.  I will tell you that I miss my kids, because I do.  I really feel this sort of panic clutch my chest when I think that we will not have these special moments together.  And.... they love each other.  Every day it is more and more evident.  Andrew and Addison lay down with him all the time.  They kiss him before bed, before they walk out of the room.  They ask where he is the moment they wake up.  They want to have their diaper changed with him.  I mean.... it is beautiful to watch.  The idea that I will be breaking up this trio in a month brings tears to my eyes.  There are other things, also... Being in charge of the coordination of all these appointments and things that happen in our lives is taxing.  It really is.  Sometimes I get calls and I just have to take them.  Again, I'm completely supported by the people I work with, but it doesn't change the fact that it has been a nice found freedom this summer to just call the pharmacy/doctor/etc. when that call needs made.  But, I'm not all martyr.

I have selfish motives also.  I've discovered this - this "little something for me."  And, I think I might be or at least get good at it.  I'm in the process of signing the contract with BlogHer.  I've been getting these amazing e-mails about how something I wrote inspired someone.  Inspired? Really? It is a lot to absorb... and if I take those words at face value, then I ask myself... can I find that same self satisfaction from blogging?  Could I make myself more active in the community or church and get a similar satisfaction as I get from teaching.  Could I be as passionate or as "good" at this as I am teaching?  I also have always loved photography.  I love it even when I don't have my good camera.  The pictures from my last post were all taken with a point and shoot camera or my cell phone.  I also don't have Photoshop (which I won't be able to afford to buy if I quit my job) ... so all my edits are done with different "free" programs.  I think... could I be better with better tools?  Could I make a bit of a living with blogging and photos? Ahhhh... but then comes the rub.  If I am a "stay at home mom" ... when would I ever find time to indulge these other passions?  Would I even have time to blog or take photographs?  Would we all drive each other crazy?

In the past, when I have been at home on maternity leave, I have always felt so - insignificant.  I know there are people who will tell you, "raising a family is the most important job you could ever have."  But - I have always been more of a career motivated person.  However, I have never had these other creative outlets to find significance in.

*Sigh*  There is also the reality of this economy.  How can I even bring up the idea of taking some time to sort this all out when people are losing their jobs left and right?  When school districts are not hiring?  When I finally have my classroom, my curriculum, my supervisors, my ... everything I've ever really wanted professionally?

But, can I handle another year like last year?  The phone calls.  The appointments.  I ended up exhausting all leave.  I missed appointments.  I ran out of the building several times.  I cried sometimes. Often, I went on little or no sleep....

I know there are people I work with that read this blog.  I realize this post just might make a lot of people think ~ really? ~ she's back to this old song and dance? ~ we need to know if she's working or not! ~ I thought she decided this already!  I guess this is a bit of the problem also.  Will there be a point when the blog for me gets me into trouble?  We all know the "stories" about bloggers who've stepped one step too far.  I don't want to worry about that.  I don't want to mess up.  (There are an awful lot of "I's" in that last bit.)

And there is one more thing I'm going to throw into the mix, just for the sake of honesty.  Our beloved dog is being put to sleep on Thursday.  Truthfully, Jake is Ray's dog, and I haven't blogged about it specifically to protect Raymond's privacy.  I thought I was ok.  I love Jake... but - he's not my child.  There is the very real possibility that this emotional roller coaster has been prompted by the dread of putting him down.  Maybe I'm not as "ok" as I thought I was. 

Ok. Hit me with it.  I'm desperate.  I've prayed.  Ray and I have beat this horse to death.  I've talked to my parents.  I've talked to my friends.  I've talked to my co-workers.  I make a decision. I change my mind. I make a decision. I change my mind.  What do you think?  Give me a real answer... I can't promise that I'll do what everyone says, but I can tell you this - I welcome all perspectives at this point.

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9 Comments:

At July 12, 2011 at 9:56 PM , Anonymous Savannah said...

It is such a hard decision to make, but it sort of sounds to me like you know where your heart is. Here's one more question to ask, which option will make you sleep better and breathe easier?

I'm a little biased, but I staying home is totally worth the risk. I really thought I would hate it and that we would suffer financially, but we learned to live on a budget and I found that I LOVE staying home with these crazy kids.

Lots of love and prayers!

 
At July 12, 2011 at 10:04 PM , Blogger Eric, Erin, Elsie and Emmy said...

First, it is a personal choice. It is what you feel/hear God leading you to do. It is a risk. When we brought the girls finally home, my district had a meeting and wanted to know when I was coming back. Sent me in a HUGE panic attack.

Though it was hard financially at the time, I stayed home. Working the few hours I do now on the admin side of teaching and my wildtree business, I feel like I am "helping" with those extras that we wouldn't have.

Can you compare pros/cons to this summer and the school year? What is that you want? God will provide, follow your heart!
Hugs and prayers!

 
At July 12, 2011 at 11:30 PM , Blogger My adventures with 4 boys said...

I agree with Erin and Savannah....a very personal choice. I know that teaching is a passion but inspiration can be very rewarding - just as much if not more than teaching. Your blog provides someone with the peace of mind, positive thoughts, intuitive insight, supportful, - that may fill the "teaching void". THere are not many eloquent writers in this world but I honestly believe you are one. You are very honest. I have not found you to go "over the line".

You can still get adult interaction even if you stay home. You will become even MORE creative during the winters months when you are stuck inside a smaller house. You never know what new fork might present itself.

I do understand the desire to be a "provider" - so I will explain this in terms that keep me sane. I work in the medical field in the military....All throughout my career I was determined to take care of my patients - vaccines, physicals, hearing tests, etc. I was the one providing that care. As I moved up in rank - I did less and less direct patient care and more administrative - medical records. I changed my thought process to my medical records were my patients. Getting documents in the record was them having what they needed to continue to be seen. Moral is that I became just as satisfied with my new path as I was with the old.

I hope you find comfort in your decision. Each one comes with pros and cons. Weighing them out and figuring what is best for your family is the way to go. Having the job already sometimes becomes our crutch if the unknown can be fearful.

xoxoxo
E

 
At July 12, 2011 at 11:59 PM , Blogger Heather said...

I've worked full-time in my "younger" years, but it's been nine years now that I've been a stay-at-home mom, which by the way very rarely involves a full day of actually staying home. Adult interaction is very easy to come by in the SAHM world, if you want it.

It was the right choice for me nine years ago, and it's still the right choice for me this year, but honestly, we take it one year at a time. I've been giving some thought to returning to work sometime in the next few years... maybe part-time.

My suggestion to you would be to remember that this isn't a forever kind of decision. You could resign your position, stay home for a few months or a year, decide that it isn't working out the way you had thought, and start looking for a new job. Or maybe you'll love it and stay home for five years. Or maybe you'll never return to a formal classroom. But you don't have to decide that now. Just take it one year at a time.

I have to remind myself of that too. As I think about returning to work, I get bogged down with the weight of the decision, and then I remember, I can return to work and if it doesn't work well for my family, I can leave the job and stay home again. There is rarely a long-term kind of commitment to these kinds of decisions, unlike say, marriage or having children :)

 
At July 13, 2011 at 7:23 AM , Blogger Kimmie said...

Like everyone has said - it is your choice but here is my point of view.
I was an incredible teacher when I taught. I made a lot of administrators, parents, and students very happy to have taken to my classes. However, I was more overwhelmed with the workload than in love with it. With that said, my thoughts on teaching are very different from yours. I am not even sure I want to go back to teaching when I do return to work (although I just finished 2 classes to update my certification).
However, I know that once the twins start Kindergarten, there is no going back to the weekly daytime spent together. We will only have evenings and weekends and most of those will be filled with their extra activities if they choose to be involved in those. You know how much easier it is to even just go to the grocery store in the middle of the weekday when you have your kids with you... you know that all those smaller fun places to visit (like moonbounce places, playgrounds, indoor centers) are far less busy during the weekday. I have only my 2 to cart around, but you would have all 3 and the less people there are to navigate around, the more successful you fun trips will be.
Soooo, my long story of advice short - if I were you, I would take advantage of the time you have to spend with the kids now because the dynamic will be so different in a few years AND then your pros and cons will lean heavily towards work.
And also - can you still have the nurse come to the house for Alexander if you are home? Maybe a part time basis?

 
At July 13, 2011 at 7:24 AM , Blogger Kimmie said...

And p.s. to my point above -
Your blog is very inspiring - so much so that I have shared some of the posts with a few people that I think would also feel inspired or touched.

 
At July 13, 2011 at 9:00 AM , Blogger Kisses4Kaylee said...

Kristen,

You are an amazing teacher. As a fellow educator, I can feel it-- in the way you talk about your students, the way you talk about your classroom, and the way you talk about your profession. There is not a doubt that you were born to be a teacher and that your students have been touched by your gift. That said...you can ALWAYS be a teacher, even if it is not in the classroom.

Others have already said it-- you are a wonderful writer with a gift for conveying emotion. That is a form of teaching. You love to blog, so it makes sense to me that you would find great satisfaction from doing it for a living. I do not know what the pay is (if any) for blog writing, but it is definitely something you could do and do well, finding the satisfaction you crave from being an inspirational force others seek. The issue then, from what I can see, is the financial impact on your family-- will going down to one income make life easier? Better? Worse? Will you feel regret?

A little personal perspective: when Mark and I moved to Jackson in August 2007, I was pregnant with Ryan and he had a well-paying job at a corporation. I had planned to take all of my allotted maternity time off with Ryan, who was due in February 2008, which would have meant the remainder of 2008 and all of 2009, to stay home with him. I was beyond excited to be able to have that time home with him. We had bought a big home and were prepared for a future of golden-paved roads (metaphorically-speaking). Then 3 months after moving in, he lost his job. Thankfully, he did get a severance package that pulled us through til Ryan was born...but my plans were completely shot. I had to go back to work in the fall...for insurance. In fact, that is primarily why I still work today...for insurance. We need it, and I cannot risk settling for a lesser-quality plan either through the state or what Mark could afford as a single-person corporation. I do not have the choice but to work, and truth be told, because of our "big house," we need the two salaries.

Still, I can relate completely to your feelings about the days missed, using up all allotted time, trying to coordinate doctors and appointments for after-school hours to avoid taking time off, and, of course, the inevitable emergency leave...it can be exhausting. I wish I had the choice to stay home, but I do not.

My point? If Ray has the insurance and you do not need to work for that...then take the time off. If you can afford to live in your current home with Ray's salary-- even if it means sacrificing some extra-curriculars...take the time off; the kids will have fun at the local park as much as they will at Thomas the Train. Trust me: a big(ger) house does not make for happiness; it is just more to clean. And if you cannot afford to move to a town you prefer...school at home. Be a home-school teacher...for your kids and for others' children. It could be a win-win situation-- for you and for other parents who might be feeling less than satisfied with the public system for whatever the reason. Money will always come-- look how you were able to raise the fund for Alex's dog so fast. Your ability to be home for Alexander and the twins-- where I think you prefer to be-- may not.

Lots of luck as you ponder this decision. It is scary to give up what you have become used to, but have faith that it will all work out okay in the end. Just remember what I said-- you are always a teacher-- even if you are not standing in front of a classroom. xo

 
At July 13, 2011 at 9:05 AM , Blogger Kristen said...

Wow. The response to this has been amazing. There are several comments here - but also a ton of e-mails with support with great perspectives. And - honestly... I welcome all of them. Please feel free to continue to give me things to mull over. I really appreciate all the input. Kimmie - I'm not sure about the nurse situation. I would have to make an official decision before we found out.

 
At July 13, 2011 at 2:42 PM , Blogger GingerGirl said...

I guess I read the post a little differently than other did. I read someone that continually minimized the word I, as if were shameful to have wants and needs of her own. I heard someone who loved her family, but has aspirations that were her very own. Even the title of your blog seems to scream of your (rightful) need to find joy and satisfaction in something outside of the home. While I wholeheartedly agree that these years are fleeting, I also believe that if there is something that fulfills you, and you KNOW it and you have the chance to HAVE IT, then why try to find a SUBSTITUTE for it (when you asked if something else might fill that void)? Love you family, of course, but love yourself, too. Do not feel that you have to put your life on hold. There is no guarantee of tomorrow, for any of us. Live the best life you can. Love your family the best you can. But don't forget to take your own needs/wishes/desires into account as you ponder this. Whatever you decide. No judgment here, hon! Just lots of love and respect. ~terri

 

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