Two Dreams

I’ve always been one to plan. I’d call myself a Type-A personality, and so would everyone that knows me. The good thing is I married a man who’s a lot the same in that respect. We’ve always been really good about planning things out and thinking them through in advance. We had our son named before he was even conceived. So in planning our lives together, we always planned for me to be a stay-at-home mother; to raise our children full-time. I've always had two dreams in my heart. I wanted to be a mother, and I also wanted to be a teacher.
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since a very young age, except for that stint where I wanted to be an airline attendant. Then there was 9-11 and being a full-time traveler didn’t exactly match up with my other goal of being a mother. On the first day of my freshman year at the University, I declared myself an Elementary Education major. When my grandfather paid for my college education, he really wanted me to pursue something which would give me more monetary gain. I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I weren’t teaching. I knew early on that I was right. I loved every minute of my teaching classes and work in the practicum.
I decided to become an intern and skip student teaching. The deal was you went right into the classroom, at HALF PAY, half of a first year teacher’s pay. My take-home pay was $1,100. Per month! I didn’t care. I started my teaching job two weeks after we were married. I worked myself into the ground. I commuted. I graded papers. I planned, and planned and planned some more. I cried over upset parents. I cried over struggling children and the naughty ones too. My first year was wonderful. I was an amazing teacher. I don’t say that to brag. I loved my job and I was so energetic and willing to try everything. My team was amazing. I couldn’t have done it without them. They literally saved my life. The second year was even better. I improved my weaknesses; I changed things that didn’t work. I loved being able to do it all for a second time. During my third year of teaching, I decided to pursue my other lifelong dream. We started our family. I finished out my third year of teaching and I took a year’s leave of absence. Everyone thought I’d never come back. But, after a year was up, I was back in the classroom.
I switched schools so that I didn’t have to switch grades. I really wanted a half-time teaching job so that I could stay at home with my baby more. None were to be found but, one was promised for the following year. That first year back was hard. It was really, really hard. I was new to the school. I was new to the team, and that was probably the hardest part. No, honestly, it was the kids. I had an incredibly difficult group of children that year. I came from an area of highly privileged children to some who didn’t know the same luxuries. I even had a student that didn’t have a home. I had students with very extreme needs. It was a crazy year. But, I got through it, and in the spring found a partner to teach with the following year.
It was the perfect set-up. We split the day so we each got to go to work each day, and we each had half of the day off. We split up the curriculum and the other duties of the classroom. She did things my way. That was her choice. I was able to be a teacher. I was able to come home to my baby and be their mother. Then one day I got a phone call. A phone call no one wants to hear, or make. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She had to resign. What’s more, I had another baby on the way.
Two full-time substitutes, one baby, and one funeral later, I was ready to start my sixth year of teaching. The thought of splitting a teaching contract didn’t appeal to me what-so-ever. My husband increased his hours at work, and started a master’s program. Our family had grown in number and so had our responsibilities. Life was not easy. There were family strains, small living arrangements, and lots and lots of stress. Through it all, I loved my job. I complained a lot, especially to my husband. But, I loved it. With each New Year brought new students and new challenges. Each child brought his or her own baggage into my classroom. Life had its own challenges as well. I was living both of my dreams. I was a teacher, and a mother. I was raising my children, and teaching others. It was quite a balancing act; our lives were very, very busy.
With two full time incomes we were able to afford our necessities, and our desires. But we knew the plan was always for me to stay at home and be a full time mother. We could afford that plan and I was able to quit my professional job and focus on our family. I’d raise my children, teach them right from wrong. Teach them to love, teach them about Jesus Christ and The Golden Rule. A new dream was being born. So, in the spring I sat down and wrote my letter of resignation. It was a difficult one to write and I cried then like I’m crying now remembering it. But in the end, I knew I’d made the right choice. I’d chosen what I’d set out to do. It was the right thing for our family, and the best choice I could make. My heart was at peace with our decision.
No one told me how difficult this fall was going to be. Come August all of the students (and teachers) purchased their school supplies, sharpened their pencils, dressed up in new clothes, and headed to school. I did not join them. The first time in twenty five years, I wasn’t a part of the back to school crowd. Not this year. It has been a very hard week. I did not anticipate these feelings. The sadness, the anxiety, the confusion. But, when I look into the faces of my two young boys, I remember why I made this choice and have embarked on the next chapter of our lives; one to be full of PTA meetings, and back to school nights, homework, and grades. This time will be from the other side of the fence. Not as a teacher, but as a mother.


joyous said…
Thanks for sharing. Change is always hard, whether we have chosen it or not. Good luck adjusting to your career change this year; you've been successful at everything else so far, I know you'll be successful at this too! You're a great teacher and that job hasn't really changed, just the location and the pay!!! Haha!
Loved this post! Although I haven't ever had my own classroom, I know what it is like to teach and love what you are doing. You made an excellent choice though, your family needs you.
Aubrey said…
After working full time for so long it would be really hard, but hopefully hanging out with your boys all day will make it a little easier.
Tonya said…
Jenn I loved your post. I know that this has been hard for you. You are an awesome teacher and mother. Your boys are so lucky to have you.
Lydia said…
Loved your post! It brought tears to my eyes.. probably because I've experienced the dilemma of career and motherhood. Chad just started grad school this year and I'm working part time.. I'm looking forward to being a full time mom when he is finished. Enjoy the time with your kiddos they don't stay little long.
Christie said…
I can imagine giving up doing something that you love so much for something else you love even more! Good teachers are hard to find, and hopefully one day when the kids are older you can return to being an awesome teacher!!
I think being a stay at home mom IS the toughest job youll ever do but also the most rewarding!
loved your post! For one thing, it reaffirms my faith in teachers. Your boys will love having you home though!
I hope that all teachers have at least half of the passion that you do for teaching!! What a blessing you have been to all your students, and how rewarding to be able to stay home with your kids!!!
Jenn said…
Hey Jenn! I haven't talked to you in so long, but I keep up with you thanks to blogger! Anyway--I remember my first year NOT going back to school too...SO hard! Just know that you will reap the rewards with your boys! You are giving them such a great gift...just think...when you do go back, it will be hard to say goodbye to these days. I am only teaching preschool now (in my own home) and only 6 1/2 hours a week, and yet I am already sad to see the full time mom days of summer go. What a blessing to love two dreams so much! You are great!

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