From the time I was in first grade, all I’ve ever wanted is to be a teacher. I never had any doubt in my mind about my future.
In high school, I took an early childhood professions class for two years. In this class, we actually got to work with kids in schools. It was the right step towards my future. I just knew I’d be a teacher.
College took me a while to get through… 6 1/2 years in fact. I loved every minute of it. Especially my education classes. I just knew I’d be a teacher.
Then, I graduated. I got a job as a Special Ed Instructional Aide. It was in this moment that I saw first hand the reality of teaching. I should have known in this moment that teaching wasn’t necessarily all I had envisioned… but, I thought it was just the school. So I tried private school. The private school that I worked at was a great school and it was different than the public school I had worked at, but it was still very difficult. I tried teaching in a charter school, only to quit mid-year my second year. Then I worked at an amazing preschool. This was different than anything I had experienced. Unfortunately, we needed more money (or so we thought), so back to public school for me! Then, my anxiety and depression made it almost impossible to handle, so I ended up in the hospital and had to quit mid-year. Then, this year I tried private school again… only to have the same thing happen that happened last year.
Teaching is HARD. Whether it be charter, public, or private. I have spent so many years trying to make it work because “that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.” I made teaching my identity and felt that if I wasn’t doing that, then I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do. This time around, I have discovered that I’ve been wrong all along.
As I look back on the past 8 years (since I graduated), I realize that the only times I have been truly at peace were when I stayed home. I tried and tried to teach full time for various reasons, but I ALWAYS ended up becoming a stay at home mom. In those moments, I thought my staying at home was temporary. I thought I would always end up becoming a full time teacher again. And several times, that’s what happened. But I always end up back right where I am right now.
This time is so different. After trying so hard, so many times, I’m realizing that maybe I’m not this teacher that I have identified myself with for so many years. For the first time every, really, I have peace with not going back into teaching full time. I have peace with being a stay at home mom.
So a few things that I’ve learned… my identity isn’t in teaching and the times I’ve been most at peace were/are when I’m home with my babies.
This time around, I’m coming at it completely differently. I’m looking at things with more long-term eyes. Instead of just trying to get through financially, we are looking at how we can actually pay off debt despite my not having income. I’ll probably sub next year, not to hopefully get a full time position out of it, but to just be where my kids are and bring in a little income. I’m not expecting myself to be perfect with things. I don’t keep the house spotless, I don’t expect myself to cook/bake every single thing from scratch, and I haven’t gone back to all natural/homemade everything. I’m being more balanced.
I really feel that all of the counseling I have done over the past few years has helped me to change my view. Perfectionism and codependency are what used to cloud my mind and decisions. Now, I look at what will glorify my Father, be best for my mental health, and serve my family best. I’ve learned how to re-frame my thoughts to be more realistic and not irrational. I have lots of room for growth in this area, but I’ve come so far. I really feel that medication has also played a huge part in my extreme ups and downs. I’m hopeful that the cycle I’ve been stuck in for a long time is broken.
I’ve also spent a lot of time figuring out who it is that I am, what I can do to cope with anxiety (healthy coping skills), and how I can live this life to the fullest.
I’ve come a long way with figuring out my identity, breaking the cycle, and being mentally/emotionally healthy. Now the goal is to be stable in these areas long-term.