As I stated in my previous entry, I'm new to being at home. Now that school has started, I'm finding myself preoccupied with what I "should" be doing each day. I'm so used to being on the go and being busy that I'm finding it hard NOT do be doing something every second of every day. Which is how I ended up here in the first place. Sort of.
We all have the busyness of our lives that seem to take up every spare second, especially when we have families and work/career. I've gotten so used to this breakneck speed that it's hard to
s l o w
d o w n.
Especially if you are like me, and feel that busyness equals productivity. Trust me, I'm learning that it so doesn't.
Enter May of this year. I knew my district had been talking about budget cuts and furloughing more than 70 positions, most of them teachers. I didn't know that in a few short weeks, I would be getting the call to tell me I, with all of my experience and time in the system, was on the furlough list.
When I got the call (4:00 on a Thursday afternoon), I was told there were some errors in the first calculations and a second round of furlough notifications was being sent out. The call was to let me know I would be receiving a letter. I finished my conversation, went back to my classroom, and promptly called my husband to tell him to call me in 10 minutes, once I got home. (Side note: I lived in my school zone at the time. My students were also my neighbors and my children's friends.) When he called I told him the details of the phone call; no real surprise there because we knew the furlough was a possibility. He reassured me that everything would be fine and told me this might be my chance to leave the classroom. Hmm.
See, several years prior, I told my husband I didn't see myself in the classroom in another five years. Not out of education entirely, just not in the classroom. Not that I didn't enjoy my students and their families. I just wanted to do more than teach. I wanted to influence and mentor other teachers. I wanted to create materials for the classroom. I wanted to have some sense that I was making a difference in the way education is presented. (On a side note, I had also expressed to God around that time that I wanted to be home with my children--if He saw it fit, of course. Needless to say, it wasn't the time then.)
Enter this situation. Now, I didn't jump up right away and tell everyone I was blowing the proverbial Popsicle stand. No. What I did was begin praying about where God wanted me to be. If that was in another building, teaching another grade, then so be it. If that was home with my family, then that was fine, too. So I prayed and waited for confirmation. Around that time, everyone seemed to be asking about my job security for the next year because the topic was all over the local news, parents were concerned, students were concerned, etc. Anyone who knew I was teaching in this particular district began asking questions. Even my father, who lives several hours away on the other side of the state, began asking because our local news made it all the way out to where he lives. All I could tell people was that I didn't know. I was waiting on God.
Which, I can tell you, was hard. It was a full three weeks after the initial call that I was contacted with employment options for the next school year. During that three weeks, I really felt the need for me to be home, but I wasn't quite sure. Not until my options came did clarity come.
Option 1: I could bump someone from their current position. Basically, take someone else's job to have a job.
Option 2: I could take a half-time position in order to fill a retirement.
After much discussion with HR, I decided not to take either option. Even through the discussions with HR and my family, I continued to feel that I needed to be home. Conversations with friends and family about the situation all echoed my husband's earlier declaration, without mention of it from me. I felt such a peace about the whole idea. So when I finally told my principal my decision, I had no fear or doubt. I knew things would work out. As far as my options, they were offered to other teachers. I'm not sure what happened to whoever was offered my first option, but I know I helped a former colleague remain employed with the second.
When I told my students and parents, there were many tears from everyone. Some parents offered to pray for me as well. I left my building with a peace I hadn't felt in a long time. It felt great.
Even with all of the good feelings, I still had some trepidation about telling my children. Like I said, we lived in my school zone. My children attended the school I taught in for so many years. By the time all of this happened, my oldest had begun middle school, but my youngest was still in the building with me. I just wasn't sure how they would take the news that I was leaving the classroom.
I started with my youngest, since he was still in the building.
Me: Bud, how would you feel if Mommy wasn't in school with you anymore?
Him: (Perplexed look.) Why? Where are you going?
Me: I'm planning to be home and not be in the classroom anymore.
Him: Oh. Why?
Me: So I can be home for you guys more. Does that sound like a good idea?
Him: (Thumbs up and a smile.)
I proceeded to explain what happened with my job and how I prayed and waited for a decision, and how my husband and I really felt this was the right choice.
During this conversation, my oldest was listening and waiting for her turn. When the time came, she simply asked, "So does this mean we'll see you more and not your back?" (Wow. Gasp. Shock to my system. More on that in a moment). I told her it would. Enter thoughtful looks from both children, followed by smiles, okays, and lingering hugs.
They weren't as devastated as I thought they would be. In fact, they were happy. Which led me to think about my daughter's singular question...and led me to think about how my presence, even working on the computer in the corner of the living room, wasn't enough. Hadn't been enough. My children needed me, not the crazy person/blur that had been living with them. They needed ME.
So here I am. Learning to slow down and focus on things in front of me. Learning to be more sane in my daily pursuits. Learning to enjoy the view.