Besides the short period where my obsession with whales made me think I needed to become a marine biologist, I had always wanted to teach. I loved school, enjoyed helping others, and held a huge passion for language and writing, so becoming a high school English teacher seemed like the perfect fit. At first, it was. But then I entered a new life season. And within only five years, several more.
I always knew (from my mom who is a retired teacher) that the lesson plans, grading, and school events would intrude on my marriage; however, I didn’t realize my exhaustion, stress, and constant negativity would impact it as severely as it did. Seriously, a movie night? What a waste, I’d think to myself whenever my husband would try spending time with me. If I’m not going to catch up on my work, I might as well sleep!
…messed up, right? As a teacher, I wasn’t healthy, and, as a result, our relationship wasn’t either. I kept telling myself (and my husband) that it would get better over time, but each year in the classroom seemed to only bring new class preps, more students, and never-ending pressures to literally gift good grades.
Thank goodness my daughter growing inside me yielded hours of self-reflection. If I can’t balance life now, how will I do it with a baby? Do I really want my child (and hopefully some day children) to be raised by such an unhappy person? Yeah, the health insurance is great, but the frozen take-home pay of just under $600 a week barely covers student loans and a car payment, let alone gas to get there…and, oh yeah, now DAYCARE?
I knew a change needed to happen but felt stuck. I’ve always been a planner, and leaving teaching was not part of “the plan.” Nor was giving up, which quite heavily weighed on my people pleasing-self, too. Who gets their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in teaching, performs well, and quits after only four years? What are my parents, in-laws, and extended family going to say? What will my future daughter think?
First Baby Season
Luckily my daughter was born in April, so I had my maternity leave plus the summer months to “decide” even though in my heart I already knew I’d need to find a new career path. But that, once pursued, only brought about an entirely new set of unknowns and questions: what can I do with an English and journalism degree? What career would allow me the balance (and pay) I was lacking in teaching? What do I even want to do?
Second Baby Season
By the time my son was born, I had fortunately found as close to a balance as I could: I worked (on average) 15 hours a week out of the house as a private tutor and wrote and edited as a remote freelancer another five to 10. I worked less than a third of the time I put in as a teacher, profited much more than my teaching salary, and only required six hours of care (vs. 45!) for my kiddos a week. Woot woot!
Lately, however, my constant yawning and irritability seem to be signaling another life season change. You guys, I’m exhausted. The kids are getting older, so not only are they requiring more of my attention, but they are napping less, too, making it more difficult to get any work done at home and forcing me to stay up late and then also wake up early just to catch up as a result.
Add more hours to our sitter’s schedule? Remove a few tutoring clients? Say no to a few writing/editing jobs? Regardless of what my husband and I decide, I need to keep in mind that it is OK, just like it has always been, to make a change not just for my own well-being but also that of my family’s.