Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #10

A Year of Gratitude #10: Staying at home with Gus

The year that Gus entered our lives was 2010. It was my tenth year of teaching and the absolute best year of my teaching career. 

Not only did I start 2010 by being selected as one of fifteen teachers from across the country to be a Scholastic Teacher Advisor, but I got to go to NYC for an all-expenses paid trip. It was by far one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and the most incredible thing I've ever had the chance to experience as a teacher.

In November of 2009 (of the 2009-2010 school year), I decided to participate in the History Channel's Take A Vet to School Day program. I invited my students to invite their loved ones to come into my classroom for Veteran's Day. It was amazing. We had seven men come to school and they shared their stories with my class. These were grandfathers and dads and they represented all branches of the military. There were tears shed as the men talked about their service, friends lost, and time away from their children. It was moving, touching, and life-changing. One of the parents (her dad was one of our guests) told me that she had never talked to her dad about his time in the Marine Corp. He was a Purple Heart recipient and had it with him to show the kids... she thanked me over and over for celebrating them, and for opening the door to communication with her dad about his time in the Marines. It was awesome.

As if things weren't good enough, I was named my school's Teacher of the Year. It was voted on by the entire staff, and I was named the TOY by an overwhelming majority. I was also named a Wake County Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist. Out of the 200+ teachers in the county, I was one of the top 24. It was truly awesome.

So then Gus happened... and we had a week between being told that his birthmom wanted us to be his parents, to actually holding him in our arms. There wasn't time to think... it all just happened so quickly.

My school year (year-round schools) had me tracked out (vacation) when Gus was born. Then I missed six weeks for maternity leave... but I was still supposed to come back for the last three days of school. Because of issues that I won't go into, we weren't able to come back to NC until July 11th... which was well after my school year ended.

My principal wanted to know when I was returning. She asked for my letter of resignation so that she could fill my position for the 2010-2011 year. I was on the fence about what to do... do I leave teaching, the job that I love and was most passionate about, or stay at home?

I decided that since we were still in MI and the school year was already starting... I'd stay home for a year and see if I liked it, and if I didn't, I could always go back to work.

That was July of 2010... then I got to October and saw something in the paper about the new Primrose School opening just down the street from my house. This place was at the entrance to our development... so close! I decided to talk to Steve about it and he thought it sounded like a good idea to go check it out. If I could put Gus in their program, and I could teach, it'd be perfect. The best of both worlds.

Except it wasn't. When I went to the interview, I was more qualified than the director and she knew it. She wasn't used to someone with ten years of teaching experience, plus a MAEd in Administration and Supervision and another one in K-12 Curriculum and Instruction. I was WAY over-qualified. There were NO job perks. I'd have to wear a uniform to teach (no thanks), wouldn't get any vacation, would have to work evenings and occasional weekends, I'd get paid $12 an hour (with no benefits), and the thing that did me in... I wouldn't get to see Gus.

It was through that interviewing experience that I realized that I LOVED staying home with him. Any doubt that I had before the interview was GONE after. No way was I going to put him in someone else's care, so I could take care of someone else's kids. DUH.

I am so very very very thankful that I get to stay home with Gus. Not only do I have ZERO stress in my life... which is a gift, but I get to watch him learn, grow, develop, and I am the one to help mold him into the amazing little person that he is. I get to introduce him to new kids through playdates, I get to take him to the park, the zoo, the aquarium, our backyard to play, and I get to watch him have fun.

It's the best job I've ever had.

Sure, I miss teaching (some days), and part of me says, "I'll definitely go back to the classroom." But there is another part of me that doesn't know if I want to go back for a really long time. I used to say when Gus starts kindergarten, if there aren't any other kids, I'll go back to work when he starts school. I've changed my mind.

I don't want to go back to teaching until he's much older. I want to get involved in his classroom, volunteer at the school, go on field trips, and most importantly, be HOME when he gets here. 

I feel like my job as a parent doesn't end when he starts school. So, when will I go back to teaching? I think it'll be YEARS. The way the education system is going in this country is just so disappointing to me. I don't miss the drama, the stress, and the constant feeling that I wasn't doing enough, even though I was giving 1000000% of myself to my teaching, lesson planning, and the families of my kids. I won't do that again... not when I have my own family to serve.

So for now, I'll be thankful that I'm a SAHM and with Gus each and every day. It's never dull, or boring and each day is a new adventure. I hope my only "job" is MOM for a really long time.

And for that... I am most grateful.


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