“Reverend Mother always says when the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”
–Maria, The Sound of Music
Inspired by Amanda at Runninghood, I am ignoring the dishes and laundry and dinner prep that need attention after a long weekend on Whidbey Island, and I am writing.
A few months ago, I decided it was time for me to go back to work. And I started applying for jobs, networking, sending my resumes out. No big deal.
Which actually turns out to be a really big deal, because it took a year and a half of not-teaching for me to remember all the things that I love about teaching, instead of dwelling on all the crappy things about teaching (namely, grading, arguments from parents and students about grades, and massive guilt about not being the Most Available and Self-sacrificing Teacher Who Ever Lived).
Three job leads. No interviews. One decided not to hire after all. Back to square one.
Another blogger I read titled her recent post, “On Not Getting What I Thought I Wanted.” I eagerly went to her page, thinking I would find empathy and solace in similar disappointments.
Nope. She didn’t get a full-time position she wanted, but in the same week was offered a part-time job at a local school.
So often it seems like those who get what we want have it all. The women who got pregnant while I was trying unsuccessfully to conceive. The grass is greener and so on.
Here’s the thing. There are many, many women who are not able to do what they want as mothers. Some may wish to stay home but financially can’t. Some may wish to return to work but can’t find affordable childcare, or a job. I did not anticipate how complicated this scenario is: how emotional, how ego-bruising, how uncertain.
I love my children. I have loved the gift of being home with them for two years. I am trying to find a part-time teaching or mentoring job so that I can still spend lots of time with them until they start school.
And I love teaching. I love the creative and intellectual work of teaching, the collaboration with colleagues, the gift of witnessing and participating in students’ growth. I love supporting new teachers and helping them strategize, plan, negotiate, create, reflect.
I would like to do both. Stay at home some days, or parts of every day, and work too. To be a good mom, I need to be a happy and fulfilled person. To be happy and fulfilled, I need to use my skills and gifts to make a difference, while managing not to be consumed by my work as I have been in the past.
Will my house be clean and organized? Probably not. Will I get to cook and exercise and have playdates as often as I do now? Unlikely. Will I take on more stress? Yep. (I loved this other post from Beth Woolsey about Not Doing All The Things.)
I had made my peace with this choice. And now the number of leads is dwindling, and I am reaching farther afield for a job that will work for me.
My friend Cari reminds me that I am being picky, and that’s a good thing. That at this stage of my career, I get to be more selective about what I want and what is the right fit for me, instead of applying for everything out there and settling for anything with a paycheck.
I try to remind myself of that too. Sheryl Sandberg has recently been advocating for women to Lean In to their careers, aim high, use their leadership skills. But right now, like this woman in the NYTimes, I value flexibility. I will spare you the rants on having it all or not having it all, but I would like to have a shot at building this new me, the professional and mama.
I am afraid I won’t find a job. I am afraid I will find a job, and that it will be too much, or that I will return to my early days of teacherhood or motherhood and feel like a colossal failure at both. I am afraid of this transition for my family. I am afraid of not having a transition for my family, that I will go crazy being a stay-at-home mom with perhaps no nanny and be too long out of the workforce.
It feels like there are a lot of open windows right now. They provide a really good cross-breeze. I could use a shift in the wind. Something to show me which way to go. But maybe this is God’s way of telling me to be present and smell the salt air, to keep researching and networking but also to be mindful that my direction will come, perhaps from somewhere completely unexpected.