Each year, around this time, I struggle with the same problem. It rears it’s ugly head. I flounder, I flop. In previous years I’ve given in and compromised. Each year it’s the same old thing. Worst of all, I talk about it, whine about it, and generally drive those closest to me to the brink of insanity.
Let me explain.
In a previous life, I was a teacher. I taught for 6 years, not long, and when I had my first child, I left teaching to stay at home with him. The decision was not difficult for me.
The truth is that I’d never loved teaching the way I wished I did. I wasn’t that person who jumped out of bed to ”go to school.” I wasn’t born to teach and, even more honestly, I counted the minutes and the days before weekends, and holidays, and of course, summer. Some days I had a hard time staying energized, and at the end of the day, literally and figuratively, I felt tapped out.
The only real thing I loved was organizing my planner with an extra sharp pencil. Yes, there were kids I liked and times that weren’t a drag. The consistent paycheck was great and the regimentation made life pretty straightforward: Get up, Drive to Work, Follow the Organized Planner, Go Home, and yes, Repeat.
Did I say how much I wish I loved it?
Right before summer, I start to think about the next school year and I think about whether or not I will go back. For some unknown reason, I feel that I should suck it up and get back into the real world. Since I’ve been home with my kids (15 years now) I have continued to work in the school system in some capacity for most of that time. I’ve worked ‘lunch duty,’ I’ve been a sub, I’ve worked as a paraeducator, and a crossing guard. I even worked outside of school as a tutor. This pressure to return is not just coming from me—I know that those around me wonder ‘what my plans are.’ I feel them eye me as they mention ”what they did when they had kids, and, oh, yeah, they were working then.”
I feel that my husband and I are doing just fine financially—and as I’ve said, I have continued to make money in various ways, but since my income is low as of yet, and because it doesn’t have the cache of a title, an approved application process, and involve clocking in and clocking out, I’m not truly legit. Basically, it seems that you’re not Real unless you’re walking out the door in the morning wearing click-clacky heels and you’ve got every dinner loaded in the crockpot. Some variation of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan. Cooking and bacon—it figures.
And each year I say to myself and those closest to me that it is the last year. That I need a break. After years of child rearing and school-related work, I just want some quiet time to rethink the next chapter. Or even more ridiculously, to take a breath and enjoy this last 15 years. If I mention selling on eBay or writing articles (both of which I also do) I am met with the kind of blank stare that says oh so clearly how far around the bend I’ve gone.
The truth also, to be fair to myself, is that I’ve been almost solely responsible for my kids while my husband has worked—and while I feel both guilty and grateful that he has provided for us, I also have been doing more than my share without any breaks or time off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about this at all (though I’ve had my moments).
What is the solution? How do I resolve this?
The funny thing is, after all this talk about it, after all these years and thousands of circular discussions, I finally got the best advice. Finally, good advice! It came from my mom, of course—and, it is this: Just Don’t Talk About It. Simply declare the subject, “not up for discussion.”
This may be that thing that I don’t really ever resolve. It may be that one aspect of myself that I’m uncomfortable with. Like a little aberration underneath the skin, sometimes it hurts, but mostly it’s just there, a reminder that you are not perfect, but you are human. You make mistakes and errors along the way. You may not be who you think you are—maybe you’re a little less. Maybe your reluctance to face yourself prevents you from seeing the goodness of who you really are. No matter, you must accept who you are in order to thrive.
It’s not up for discussion.
So, let’s not talk about it.
What about you? Is there a problem that you’ve had that is best solved by not discussing it?