Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.
It is hard to summarize how one gets to be 35, college educated, and unemployed in a few words- so humor me. I never wanted to be an astronaut, president, doctor or lawyer. As a small child I wanted to be an artist or lumberjack. After I was bested by logistics and realized that I am neither creative nor agile (in fact I’m quite awkward in all respects), I floated around for a decade knowing only that I wanted to be someone’s mother one day.
I found myself finishing up at ASU at the age of 19. I knew that unless I wanted to take on a lifetime of student loan debt I needed to complete my studies quickly as tuition and costs were on the rise. I decided to go with what I knew. Education. My father had recently finished his post baccalaureate studies in Secondary Education, thus living his lifelong dream, and seemed happy enough. I, myself, had some enjoyable experiences in my high school English classes. After a quick check of the math requirements, I decided high school English teacher was the path for me. It would be great I told myself as I rocketed towards my final few 27 credit hour semesters. I would have the same schedule as my someday children. I could even take them to work with me. No weekends, evenings, holidays, heck you even get the summer off. Teaching is honorable. It is fun, it keeps you young, it is always interesting. Some of the things I told myself were true, many proved to be incorrect.
I settled in teaching 8th grade ELA at a school I envisioned bringing my still unborn children to from the first time I walked through the door. It was rough a first, but everything worth doing is, right?
Fast forward four years and I was on maternity leave with my newborn baby boy. He was not a week old when the phone calls started arriving. “When will you be back?”, “Your substitute is struggling,” and my favorite “You’ll be gone that long? This will be a mess when you get back.” Being 25 I didn’t really know that ins and outs of employer/employee relations. I didn’t know I could just not answer the phone since I was on unpaid medical leave. I didn’t realize that if I was to just never come back the world would keep spinning and the public education machine would churn out the next crop of cogs for the machine. I felt guilty. I left my baby at just three weeks old because people were counting on me, but what I didn’t realize was that he was counting on me too. He needed me more than I could comprehend, but he didn’t have the voice to explain it. However the facts were being presented to me daily. If I stayed with him I was letting people down and making my life more difficult down the road. What a mistake. My meager wages covered daycare and not much else. Someone else raised my boys. I told myself it would all be worth it though when they were at the school with me. In my mind it would be perfect. We would arrive and depart together, every bit the happy family. They would have the best teachers and I would be able to “keep my finger on the pulse” of their education.
Let’s just say things didn’t work out. Best laid plans typically never do. After thirteen years of faithful service, four classroom moves, over 1400 students, and raising my two boys to school age I parted ways with the public education system. I have a jump drive full of lessons, thirteen signed yearbooks, a painting with my name spelled incorrectly, and countless boxes of books to show for it.
It is June. I should be scanning Pinterest and building new lessons. I should be reading perspective novels and researching new technologies and ideas.
But I’m not. Instead I’m enjoying a family vacation. I am changing focus and putting my boys first. I am on the precipice of something exciting and new.
So many emotions were involved with breaking out of my former identity, but none of them involve regret.
I cannot wait for the next chapter as this new journey unfolds.