It’s nice to see you looking like your usual self again.
You’re way more relaxed than the last time we got together.
You can sure tell it’s your summer vacation!
These are the kind of statements I’ve heard at least half a dozen times in the last couple of weeks. Wow. I guess I was wearing my emotions a little more than I thought.
There’s no denying that this year (school year, anyway–it’s hard for teachers to think outside the September to June cycle!) has been extremely difficult. There were a lot of work issues, most notably my unprofessional, unsupportive principal/boss. Evenings at home were a whirlwind of making dinner, squeezing in some playtime, putting kids to bed, making lunches for the next day, trying to keep up with housework, finding a few minutes to spend with my lovely wife, and (unsuccessfully) trying to make a few minutes for myself. I seriously underestimated the toll this was taking on me.
I had become a stressed-out mess. I was stuck in the quicksand of negativity. I was
probably not the mom I should be and definitely not the mom I want to be. I was not the partner I want to be. I was not the teacher I want to be. I was not the me I want to be.
Dawn and I spent a fair amount of time talking about making a change–about me working fewer hours.
And yet. The status quo is, well…easier…safer…even when it’s not better or healthier.
I mean–I’ve got a job that pays a decent salary, I’m tenured, I have holidays and summers off, I have excellent benefits, I’ve been there eleven years and I know what to expect, and on and on. It’s daunting to think about moving on. I need to work part-time to make our budget work, but part-time teaching positions are hard to come by (my district offers none). Finding something that pays enough to work the budget by keeping childcare costs down means working some evenings or weekend hours. Thinking about what to do with summers when all three kids are home/in need of childcare is overwhelming. I felt frozen…couldn’t figure out where to even start to fit the pieces of this puzzle together.
My wonderful wife, who knows that I’ve got to come to these things on my own, would hold me through my tears and simply say, “Read my arm.” She’d hold out her arm, upon which is tattooed, “Sometimes you’ve got to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” Then she’d shut-up and hold me. (She can be a real minimalist when it comes to words :)).
And then I got a postcard in the mail from my district office. Asking for volunteers for layoff. Thanks to a 74 MILLION dollar (typing that just makes me want to throw up) cut to the district budget for next year, about 1000 positions (hundreds of teachers) are being cut. I called for information. As a volunteer, I would get to keep my seniority and will be called back in one year or be given the option to resign at that time. I thought it over and discussed it with Dawn. It gives me time to find a part-time job that works for our family, allows me to be recalled next year (my safety net) if for some reason things don’t work out, keeps a really phenomenal teacher from being excessed (having to be placed in another school due to lack of a position in ours) from my school, and keeps someone else from being involuntarily laid off.
I volunteered. I made my leap. Now I’m building my wings.