Thursday, September 6, 2007

Don't Make Me Go Back, Please!

In our Sunday school class, the assistant pastor's lessons on “chazown”—the Hebrew word for “vision” or “dream”—have made me think about my plans for the future. How am I making my life count?

“Without a vision, the people perish.” If not in literal death, then their happiness dies. They are miserable.

Last Sunday’s lesson, and accompanying video, was on chazown in the workplace. Now as a SAHM, one might think I could tune out when anyone talks about the workplace. But I do have a workplace. The home is my workplace, and running it for my family’s benefit is my job.

Not to mention that I do want to do “work” as more commonly defined when the children are older. However, I’ve realized that I don’t want to teach school again. When the video showed people spray-painting things like “I hate my job” and “Hopeless,” I thought about how hard it was to teach and the visceral emotion I experienced was: I don’t want to go back.

For a few years, I’ve said when asked that I’d teach if it became an economic necessity. Right now, my salary would be offset by the cost of two kids in daycare, so it doesn’t make financial sense for me to work (or to go back to grad school). And since I never reached the point at which teaching becomes an intellectual joy, I have never craved going back. But today I took it a step further: I don’t want to go back at all. And so I won’t plan on it. (Never say never, but I’m thinking only if Justin couldn’t work ever again—or if he died, God forbid—and I couldn’t find any other kind of job.)

I like to teach, but only when my students want to learn. We all know that teachers in today’s schools have to be really dedicated because of all the obstacles to learning that their students face. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not that dedicated. And so I shouldn’t be teaching. Because kids deserve teachers who want to be there—I certainly hope my kids’ teachers have a more positive attitude toward teaching than I do. I highly respect the teachers who have chosen to stay in a system that is often frustrating and ineffectual. As for me, I can’t do it. I could handle being paid so little if I had respect from the students and, more importantly, the parents; or I could handle the disrespect if I were taking home a better paycheck. The schools just aren’t where I need to be right now.

Where do I need to be? For me, the answer is: at home with my kids. (Please note: I am speaking only for myself here, not saying that every mother needs to be home full-time with her children.) One fabulous teacher I worked with had stayed home for five years with her twin sons, then returned to teaching once they entered kindergarten. Three years later, she tendered her resignation, saying some words I have never forgotten: “I’m just tired of using up all my patience with my students and having none left for my kids.”

This spoke to me, because I know how horrible a mother I’d be if I were teaching all day. You talk about crabby—I’d be snapping everyone’s head off. How stressed I’d be having to fit in everything I didn’t have time to do while I was at work. How much grading and planning I’d have to do in my off-hours, taking time away from my family. It would be awful.

I’m not saying that anyone except me would be this way while teaching. Most teachers I know have been teaching for several years before they have kids, and having tried-and-true lesson plans makes a huge difference in the amount of time you put in. I’d be starting from scratch again, which would be very stressful for me.

Some moms who work hate their jobs, and I feel for them. I hope they can find something they like better. Everyone needs a purposeful activity that they love doing, that makes them feel fully alive. I know it’s important that I be here for my kids, and I’m glad I’ve chosen to do that, but I’m not the kind of person who can make motherhood a full-time job for the next twenty years (it will always be part of my chazown, and I think that’s true of every mother I know, whether she works outside the home or not). When my kids are in school, I do want to find something meaningful to occupy my time, whether it’s a traditional job, a work-from-home job, or just doing a lot more writing that no one pays me for at first, but I practice enough that I do get some things published (and paid for). Whatever happens, I’m planning to hone my skills and keep my eyes open for opportunities when they come along. If I know anything, it’s that we all have a purpose uniquely suited to our gifts and abilities.

In the meantime, I'm going to think some more about my goals for making our home the best place it can be for our family.

1 comment:

  1. My mom is a teacher and I have to say that she was used up at the end of the school day with nothing left for her actual children.
    Although I wouldn't say that to her, poor hard-working mom. Good luck finding YOUR path.