As we settle into our new town and my husband gets into the groove of his new job, I find the world opening up to me. I am aware of how lucky I am to have so many possibilities for the future, at the same time as I feel the same desperate longing to have a purpose in society. I know that my primary focus must be my children and my family, because this is the path I’ve chosen and the one that makes me happy. However, as I’ve discussed in several blogs before this, our society does not see fit to give my husband and I the financial means to sustain ourselves on one income. I have complained about this devaluing of the family and the work of homemakers before, so I will skip it now.
So in addition to my favorite occupation, which includes tasks I find very fulfilling such as cooking, sewing, homeschooling and gardening, I must generate some form of cash.
I want to teach. I am looking into online degree programs, but they all require student teaching or a full-time position in the second year. At that point I would have to put my little girl in second grade and put my 2 year old little boy in day care. I am not ready for that.
But I am getting old! I am also a person who likes focus, who thrives on commitment to a project followed by steady work towards a goal, which involves having a goal and being able to choose a focus. I have always been interested in so many things. I couldn’t choose between French and Spanish and so double majored. Weeding through my book collection when we move is torturous because I want to read books on so many subjects. Homeschooling is so wonderful to me because I am quite willing to follow my child on any tangent that may occur to them to investigate; all subjects are all fascinating to me.
Can I establish some kind of “career” and generate some kind of income on a path outside the box? Should I suck it up, pursue a 9 to 5 and leave my children in the care of someone else? I can see myself as a Jill of all trades, having a few tutoring clients and publishing a freelance article now and again, perhaps subbing on occasion for a language teacher or even offering some other service that I haven’t even thought of yet.
The world is wide open before me. I hope I can sit still in this place for a bit, listen carefully and find the path that I am meant to walk.
My husband and I and our two smallest children spent yesterday searching for a new home in Western North Carolina. We settled on one that is too small, in hopes that we might save some money for a while and then be able to find and afford something more suitable for our crew.
It was a long, grueling day in which we found houses where the living room slopes at a dizzying angle, a house whose neighbor across the street has a hand-painted sign saying “Bad Dog’s”, a house on whose porch roof is written “Help me,” houses where you can see daylight flooding in around the entire door frame. Once we found a house whose only negative was its diminutive size, we decided to call it cute and put down our security deposit.
Now my mind swirls constantly with all the moving thoughts — of turning off utilities and informing various parties of our new information and all the rest. “Normal” life has become a disconnected string of stressful moments in which I am trying to tie up the loose ends of this life and begin our new adventure with all our ducks in a row.
And getting all those ducks to move neatly across the state is going to be quite a trick!
I have learned a lot in the past few months.
I’ve learned that the level of apathy and extreme frustration among students and faculty is at times unbearable, but despite this most have great affection for each other. The negative vibes stem from the system set up to organize their time, and they get through it the best they can, supporting each other when possible and trying to maximize the positive and meaningful exchanges.
I have learned that if you enter a classroom loaded for bear, you can always back down later. Contrariwise, if you enter showing weakness, you are done before you’ve even begun.
I have learned that teaching language is my favorite subject, after all.
I have learned that, as I always suspected, high school is my favorite age group, as far as public school goes.
I have learned that if you can find an aspect of the subject or task at hand that you can get enthusiastic about, it will be contagious, and the day will be funner for all involved. (“For every job that must be done there is an element of fun… you find the fun and *snap*! the job’s a game!” –Mary Poppins)
I have learned that I want to enter the fray, to have my own students to nurture and my own room whose atmosphere and resources I can cultivate, to be naive and idealistic and spend as many years as I can making believe that we can make a real difference in kids’ lives, and thus in the world, by respecting their intelligence and interests and serving their need to know and grow. Maybe if enough of us imagine that it is possible to effect great, wonderful changes, it will become so.
What else is there to do?