Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nothing Changes if You Don't Choose Something Different

I have wanted something different for myself career wise for some time now. What exactly is where I seem to change my mind with the change of the wind direction. In the past two to five years I have considered doing courses to become a childbirth educator and lactation consultant to work with new mothers, I have considered going into the restaurant business with my husband, I've considered getting a second Masters to become a school library media specialist to possibly work in even an elementary school, I've considered looking into revisiting my current masters to see what I need to do to get my official counseling certification, I even briefly considered a PhD in women and family studies as I always said if I was going to go back to school it might as well be for a PhD at this point, I've considered sticking with teaching but moving towards part time to the point of working 2-3 days a week on an A/B block schedule and working on my writing, and we have looked into doing a 1-2 year out of the country teaching assignment. By considering all of these I mean I have emailed and contacted people about programs and steps forward. For all of them. I have folders of notes and action plans for a good half of them too. As of last month I was halfway through the hiring process with an investment firm right here in the town where I live with the opportunity to be running my own office within five years. Though I kindly declined the offer to pursue the opportunity I was left with an open invitation to let them know if I changed my mind.

So what am I going to do? So many options so just choose one already, right? It's kind of like being 17 again though. But this time I have adult things on my mind- like money. How much income will I lose and how do we account for that? How much will it cost to get all new certifications and qualifications to do something different? What is the max potential income and if I can make what I make now how long until I reach that?

What about health insurance? I've carried ours for the past eight years as my husband's position is paid for out of Title I funds so how much will that cost us to pick it up elsewhere? Will it be anywhere as good as what we have? Will my husband possibly ever be able to carry the insurance and if so when?

What about my time? This is as huge of a consideration as money. Am I going to lose time at home with my family? Will this give me the opportunity to be home more with my family? Will this offer me flexibility with my time to be there for the endless things that come up with kids?

Purpose, satisfaction, and happiness- these things matter to me in what I do with my work time. I have always loved to work. I love the sense of accomplishment and purpose with working. I don't do it just to make money. I like to do something that's with people- helping and/or serving people.  Even when I was 16 working at the Dari B, I loved the opportunity to serve my beloved community their favorite treat 🙂 So how could this choice or that choice give me a sense of purpose and satisfaction? In what ways will it make me happier? In what ways will it make me less STRESSED? Is it going to be more stress at first because adjusting to change- even change you want- is usually a lot of hard, stressful work in the beginning? If so, how long until I'm settled and comfortable in my changed situation?

For years it's been let me pay more things off, let me build up more of a nest egg of back up funds, let me wait until my husband figures out what he's doing next, let me wait until the kids are a bit older, especially if it involves a lot of work time from me at first.

But I hate being in limbo. I hate waiting; though I've been waiting a long time for this. So last week I made a decision. I talked to our Human Resource office and switched the intent on my teaching contract for next year to part time! Now, before I get too overly excited about this, I can't do my desired straight part time where I work 2-3 days yet, but I can swing what's considered a .7 or .8 in which rather than working 7 hours every day I'd work more like 5.  My ideal hope with this is I could work something like 930-230 or 10-3 rather than my current 730-230. If I could get luck on my side and end up in a school a half hour closer to my house I could gain three hours a day back at home to hopefully balance this working mom life thing a little better. I'd be the one home with the kids in the morning, even getting them on the bus, and I'd still be back home like I am now by the time they got off the bus at 4. But rather than going to bed by 10 for my 545 alarm I could stay up until 1130 due to a 730 alarm. My hope then is to use my extra time to first pursue monetizing my writing more. There is this online writing course, strictly for writing content for motherhood websites and magazines, that I've been wanting to take so I plan to start there. I could very well fail at the writing for steady income thing, but at least I'd know I tried, and while I'm trying I have my new Thirty-One business to carry the income I hope to eventually replace with a steady writing income.

If that did fail I think I'd use my time as all my kids got into school to go back to school myself- whether it'd be to become a school library media specialist, get my PhD in women and family studies, check into what to do to get my official counseling license,  or get my certification to become a childbirth educator and lactation consultant- my 36 year old self isn't exactly sure but maybe my 40 year old self will have a better idea of what she wants to do/be when she grows up. By then maybe my husband will decide he wants to teach out of the country or hire me as his business financial manager as he starts a restaurant.

Now in order for this to work the way I hope the trick is I now have to find a school that has the part time position I'm looking for. These positions are HARD to find, but when they are there I imagine they are also hard to fill. I have the next four months to find this ideal part time position that I'm looking for. I also plan on applying to a neighboring county in hopes of widening my search net. But then come the first of July, if I haven't found the part time position I'm looking for, I am reconsidering the investment firm's offer. Though it'll be a tough transition at first and demand a lot of my time because they do pay for me to study, train, and take their certification courses; within a year I cannot only be settled into it, be working a much more flexible schedule right here in town where my kids are and able to put them on the bus in the mornings, but making the same if not more money than I already do. There are pros and cons to both, and though I like the long range potential of working with the investment firm, my hope is to first have the opportunity to see what teaching part time is like for me as it is hard to imagine my life without it. It may have it's incredibly stressful, thankless days but there are also many things I would miss about it.

I am gone ten hours a day right now from the time I leave shortly after 6 until I get home around 4. With three little kids at home, no family around for help, and a husband in a leadership position that has the same hours as me, I need to be more available to my family. I need more balance in my work/family life. I can't attempt to get that if I don't change anything so I hope switching my contract to part time is just the first step in making a choice to take a chance to try something different in hopes that I can find the change I've been looking for.

Wish me luck as I am a horribly impatient person when it comes to uncertainty and the unknown in situations like this and often make quick decisions that come from impatience rather than desire.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

To the Students that Walked out Today

To the Students that Walked Out of Class,

I'm not writing you today as a teacher. I'm writing to you as the mother of young children. I'm putting the safety of their future in our schools and public places in your hands. Though I have maybe doubted your authority to take on such a arduous task as I watched you lead the way today and in the days ahead I trust you with the journey you are taking on because you reminded me today though there will be those in your generation that don't take this fight seriously more of you than not are more than ready to fight the road ahead.

This is where I do commend my fellow teachers. We have prepared you to lead and as my father use to say about raising children we do our best, hope we taught you the right things, and then we have to put our trust in you to pave the right road ahead. Know we are putting our trust in you to lead this fight.

Every generation has its bad apples. Don't let the critics of older generations fool you into thinking you are not worthy to lead this cause.There are more of you than not that work hard, push yourself to meet those constant increasing expectations of our society, that promote love and acceptance in the way you treat your fellow human. As teachers we have seen the worst of you but we have also seen the great promise you have to offer our future. The enemy will try to paint you all as lazy, uncaring, too addicted to your technology to understand the world around you. They will focus on the worst of you but you must show them the best of you over and over again as you carry on this fight.

I am not completely sure myself what all the right changes are that need to be made but I do know change is a must if we are going to see a better future for young babes like mine so I commend you on standing up and saying we are the generation that's going to say enough is enough.

It will not be an easy fight. You will be criticized, mocked, doubted, undermined but don't give up the fight - the safety of my children and your future children depend on you standing your ground in this very moment. Keep demanding change, keep demanding to be heard, keep pushing for a more tolerant, accepting society where despite our race, religion, sexuality, nationality you stand for all of humanity.

For every critic shouting at you to stand down there is an uprising following behind you, ready to fight this fight with you. You will lead the change that has been decades in the making.

To those of you that didn't walk out today, that's okay too. You deserve your say too. Pave the way in how to reconcile differences among people. Show those watching how to respect the opposing side; how to listen to what the other side has to say. You can lead the way towards change too in how things can't just be the right's way or the left's way but that there's a way somewhere in the middle that will work for the majority of us.

There is a better world for us. As a mother to three young children I have to believe that. I am putting my faith in that belief in your hands right now. To those that are my students, those that are my peers' students, and to the students across this nation, you are writing history right now. You can change the story of violence that has darkened our world so though today the fight may be gun control this is just the beginning in making us a better world. There is much to reconcile, undo, and change in the journey ahead, but if you can make the world a safer place for my children I am forever in your generation's debt.


A Mother of young children

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What Has Women Frustrated with Their Husbands?

This article by Scary Mommy stirred up quite the debate between my husband and I. He always goes to his best defense when articles or discussions about the balance between men and women is brought up- it's man bashing and he does help around the house so it's bullshit. As I told him for at least the second or third time we've had this similar debate, the argument is never about him helping around the house as he has met that expectation long ago.
But where the problem lies for why women are often angry or frustrated with their husbands  is because they feel undervalued, underappreciated, overlooked, and criticized for their flaws more than for the things they do right. As a working woman- in a field that is undervalued, underappreciated, and criticized- I suffocate at times from feeling like this. Though it was a frustrating conversation on both of our parts to have, I am glad I finally spoke up to tell him I see this as a real problem that shouldn't just be ignored as a bitchy woman moment.
If men want the bitchy woman thing to subside, they have to understand us better. Honestly, as I told him over the course of ten plus years of marriage I've come to realize men cannot read our minds. I don't know about you but I think sometimes I thought bitchy, passive aggressive behavior would communicate to him what was bothering or upsetting me. I can tell you it doesn't work. We have to speak up for ourselves and that is on us. I can tell you a productive argument where you really say the things that you keep bottled inside can lead to better results. Typically in our case not right away because we both always think we're right and can't in the moment admit we're wrong or could work on being better to the other person. But I have seen both of us work on changing our behaviors after these little arguments so I'm hopeful by voicing my frustration and hurt things can change for the better.
I've talked to enough women over the years to know that feeling undervalued, underappreciated, and over criticized is not something I am alone to experiencing. Scary Mommy's article about why women are so angry is not the first article ever written about trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with women because this is not a new problem between men and women. I think quite simply men have no idea what it's like to be in our shoes. Not that we know what it's like to be in theirs. But we feel like they have no idea what we do, and remind us of that when they ask that damn question one too many times of "What is it we do all day" or in my case all afternoon before he gets home. 

There is much that we as women do behind the scenes that is all too often is overlooked and taken for granted.  To point this out to him I ran through the things I take care of for our family that he's oblivious to that he never has to think about managing in his day because I do it- running our family budget to include the $$ for all our travels,  actually making sure all the bills are paid for the month, the round up of lunches and bags and daycare materials for each day, making sure kids' field trip and yearbook forms and everything else is signed and paid for on time,  managing the family calendar to know who has to be where when, running kids to meetings after school and back before he even gets home from work, scheduling everyone's appointments and even knowing when they need to be scheduled, corresponding with other parents for playdates and pick ups or RSVPing for that party or this wedding, planning the kids' birthday parties, renewing insurance policies and utilities, signing the kids up for all their sports and activities and school registrations, getting outside with the kids after school and working on their latest balling skill, laying in bed with them at the end of every night trying tirelessly to get them finally settled some nights, managing the running grocery list of all the things we run out of throughout the week. I imagine most moms mental to do list is similar to mine.   This never ending mental to do list that they never even have to think about is the hamster wheel of never ending chaos that runs through our minds every DAMN day. It's so MENTALLY exhausting so yes, we are stressed trying to remember to take care of it all so that shortens our patience but then to even question what it is we do with our time or that we don't do enough - oh buddy, you are so asking to unleash a storm of fiery rage upon yourself.

My suggestion to husbands to understand your wife's frustration a bit: don't  act like if the house is a mess we must not be doing anything productive with our day; don't complain or make her feel like she's a bad wife or mother because at the end of the day she gets out her computer, book, knitting, or whatever it is she likes to do to finally unwind. Don't make her feel like a bad mom because she needs a break from the kid that's been whining at her feet for hours while you were at work or out with the guys or that she hands over the kid to you at bedtime because spending an hour on that fight is the last straw on her patience. Realize the way we see it is that it always seems like it's okay to let mom take care of the kids while dad does his thing but guilt is imposed on us for doing what men do guilt free because the expectation is still that mom takes the lead with the kids.
Please realize the contradicting expectations we face. My husband and I were arguing about our failed parenting when it comes to putting our kids to bed. He was criticizing me for not doing a better job of putting the kids to bed, but then turned around and told me it was my choice to not give myself an hour of down time at the end of the day like he gets after we all go to bed because my day starts a good hour before his.  In order to meet his expectations of being a better bedtime enforcer on my own I have to give up my hour of down time at the end of the day and that statement right there said it all to me in the contradicting expectations of what moms face.  Men/husbands don't face that- they aren't up against the same criticism and unrealistic expectations that we as women and mothers are and that is why we get angry and bitter and frustrated at husbands.
So, husbands, you should never question whether she is productive enough with her time by asking her what she's done all day. If she does choose to take an hour, an afternoon or evening, and even a whole DAMN day to herself and do whatever the hell she wants you do NOT question it, you do not complain, you do NOT make her feel guilty. There's a reason why there are silly memes about what's on a woman's mind verse what's on a man's. You can't even imagine the mental load she carries so to avoid the wrath of women take note of the things she does and just recognize them rather than what she didn't do that day that you expected of her. Mention the things she does well with your kids and in what ways she's a good mom, recognize what she does to take care of the family, see what she does that no one else does or that she does that you can't do. It's not about laundry, dishes, cleaning the toilet or who is making what money to pay for what. It's about seeing the things we do that go unnoticed.  It's about not making us feel invincible and undervalued. It's about accepting she's not perfect, it's about understanding that she makes mistakes but not using those to value her worth, it's not expecting her to always be some overly happy 1950s wife but understanding that she carries a lot on her plate and some days it tires and overwhelms her but she'll be up and right back at it all tomorrow.

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