I quit my job. I left my career. The thing I worked for to achieve. My definition of success.
It seems silly to give away a permanent teaching contract. It’s the Holy Grail of teachers. It’s permanent security.
School starts in four days. It will be the first time in my whole life that I have willingly stayed home from the first day of school. I’ve missed for three babies, but I always knew I was going back. I brainstormed how I could be a better teacher while I was nursing.
This is different. I have no plans to go back.
Being a teacher was fulfilling. My passion. And I was good at it. I gave it all my spare thoughts. My spare time. Not because I was obligated to, but because I loved it and wanted to get every student to win at school.
Why would I quit something I loved?
Because it was the slow death of my family.
What you didn’t see was the stress and tears every Sunday night trying to get ready for the week because I needed to give my girls all the nurturing they asked for during every waking and sleeping moment over the weekend.
You didn’t see me try to catch my breath at 8:05 am before my students came in after I had spent the last two hours FBI-level negotiating, wrestling my kids out the door at dark-early, white-knuckling through a blizzard and prying them off me at daycare so I could get to school on time.
You didn’t see us fork over more than a mortgage each month for somebody else to raise our girls.
You didn’t see me at the emergency room or doctor’s office at all odd hours when my girls were horridly sick (which was all the time).
You didn’t see me stay up late to do sub plans yet again, feeling guilty for leaving my kids at school, worrying if they would be okay tomorrow.
You didn’t see me conserving my energy with my family so I would have enough to give at school.
You didn’t see my heart break for my students, but then it sending me over the top at home because I had no emotional reserves left.
You didn’t see me at social events or friends’ homes.
You didn’t see me even out having fun with my own husband.
I was breaking. And my family was breaking too.
I loved my job, but I had to love my family more. I had to love myself more.
I had to choke on my pride and accept I couldn’t do it all. That I wasn’t as strong as I liked to believe.
I had to accept that there is a time to push through the hard, but that this was way beyond that. My micromanaging-to-find-balance-in-life skills were not enough anymore.
I had to re-evaluate my values, and live for those instead.
I quit because we made the choice as a spouse team that we would thrive, not just survive. We have one life to live and we are going to live it well.
I knew I would regret not taking this time to put all my energy into my family. It was a window where past collided with future and I got to choose to be more than a shell of myself. To heal.
To live a life with no regrets means you sometimes do things that seem like a step backward. Quit my job? Give up something I love?
If it means the health of my family, yes. If it means a resurrection of health for me, yes. If it means I will be proud of myself and my family in twenty years, yes.
My girls used to draw me pictures to make me happy. Now they draw pictures of us being happy.
And to me, that is the only confirmation I need that we made the best choice.
(See the depiction of me with the giraffe neck in the picture above, reaching out my hand for ice cream.)
These are my people.
Maybe one day I will return to teaching. Who knows. But for now, you’ll find me here at home, blissfully happy. Blissfully stretched. And blissfully open to every good possibility I couldn’t have conjured within the constraints of life before.