It’s no new news that I went back to work this year as a full-time college English instructor. It was one of those opportunities that landed in my lap a week before classes began and instead of teaching the three sections of composition classes per semester I’d already committed to teaching, I ended up teaching five classes each semester. A full-time load on any account, but especially full-time as someone who homeschools her children, and had committed to teaching a high school writing class at our Veritas co-op.
Earlier in the school year I documented a monthly “Back to Work” series but didn’t post at all second semester. You can read those first semester updates here:
|| August Update ||
|| September Update ||
|| October Update ||
|| November Update ||
|| December Update ||
To tie a bow neatly around this academic year, I wanted to offer one last reflection on these past ten months. Here are the take-aways from my year.
1. Ryan is my partner and this has never been more evident than this year.
I’d say we have generally made a good team, but prior to my return to work, I did a majority of things around the house. I still do, but Ryan has pitched in a ton and helped to take away any stress (real or perceived) that I have had. He’s cooked, shuttled kids, managed his schedule to be home early to take kids to activities, he’s given me hair rubs, neck and shoulder massages, pep talks, words of encouragement, and forgiveness and patience when I haven’t deserved it.
I distinctly remember us sitting on our bed talking the day I got the job offer and I was wanting to discuss the job and whether or not I should take it from every single angle. Ryan, in his usual, easy-going manner, said it was simple.
He asked, “Do you want to do it?”
I said, “Yes. I want to try.”
He replied, “Go for it. Let’s make it work.”
One thousand cheers for my guy!
2. These kids of ours are truly super!
Ditto for the kids on the patience end. They have been genuinely easy-going about having me away from home for several hours each week. I wasn’t sure how they’d adjust but they have done great. Each has assumed more responsibility with chores, laundry, cleaning, and food prep in particular, but they haven’t complained. (Commissions help!) They have all maintained excellent grades and school habits. And each has enjoyed extra-curricular activities despite some hectic evenings.
3. Yes, it takes a village.
From friends who pick up your kids on the way to co-op, to others who host your kids for dinner when Ryan was out of town, I couldn’t have managed without help. I have had some great sitters/nannies/tutors who have gone above and beyond to love on our kids during my afternoon work days. My parents and in-laws have filled in some gaps when they have visited. I had someone clean the house in October when I really needed an extra set of hands. We have had takeout more this year than all other years of marriage combined. There are lots of people who helped make this a smooth school year and I’m grateful.
4. I enjoyed returning to the college classroom and found great fulfillment there.
Over the past few years, I’ve been on a quest to discover my passions and specifically invest my time in those pursuits that are life-giving to me. I knew this job was something that would fit into that category. What I didn’t expect was the huge emotional paycheck I received from seeing lightbulbs go off for my students, reaching them as not just a teacher, but also as an encourager, and finally for feeling like a part of me that had been dormant came back to life.
At a recent homeschool conference I attended, the speaker shared a story about Fred (Mister) Rodgers’ wife, Sara Byrd. She shared that when their kids were in late elementary school/pre-teens, Sara returned to her work as a concert pianist. She wanted to raise her kids differently than she’d been raised and she believed that by pursuing her own passions, it took extreme pressure off of her kids to be her everything. It gave them room to be themselves and not live up to unreal expectations that their lives and identities were so tied into their mother’s that they didn’t have the pressure to live up to that kind of unrealistic pressure. They saw their mother pursing her passions which modeled the truth that they should pursue their own.
5. It wasn’t all peaches and cream.
I’m not one to focus on the negative, but I don’t find this update to be totally honest if I leave out some of the more difficult aspects.
- my eye twitched nearly constantly between January and March
- I didn’t fully find a way to keep up with exercise, devotional time, or rest
- many, many days I felt completely overwhelmed and was snappy with my family
- our house stayed really dirty for long stretches
- between East Georgia and co-op, I estimate that I graded 1,080 essays (not counting revisions or multiple drafts) || see eye twitch above ||
- I didn’t write much at all and felt like having a job was a legitimate excuse but often felt that it was just that, an excuse, to avoid writing, which I feel to be another calling/passion
- I know I am the therMOMeter of the home and many days I allowed my frazzled state to dictate the mood around here
- overall, we made it but it was too much…changes are already in place for next year
6. All-in-all, it was great and I stand by our family decision to pursue this opportunity.
Back in September, I wrote a piece for the National Military Family Association about being #morethanaspouse and I realize that as long as Ryan is serving in the military and we are moving around the globe, professional opportunities are rare. I’m so glad I took this job, even if it was to prove to myself that I could do it. I knew it would be hard, but rewarding work, but I just knew it was possible to, as Ryan often says, do “and” and not “or.” I knew I could be a homeschooling mom and a full-time teacher; I knew I didn’t have to pick one or the other. Many days, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.
This job has benefitted me personally and professionally; and it’s benefitted our family relationally and financially. I committed to a 10 month contract and that’s up in a few days. I did it. We did it. And I’m grateful we all thrived through the experience.