Invariably, that’s how I introduce the story of the work crisis that ultimately inspired the life changes I hope to document in this blog. I always distrust a long story, and yet that’s what this is. I try to avoid talking about it, but in the interest of context I’ll try to fill you in as succinctly as possible.
It all starts in my principal’s office. He is telling me that due to budgetary considerations, someone must be cut from my department for the following school year and it will be me. It is my lack of commitment, he says, that makes me the most expendable member of the English Department. Sure, I do my job, he says, but I don’t stay late, or coach or sponsor activities; this, he says, is “a cloud.” Actually, I tell him, “this” is being a mother to two small children. He shrugs. I start mentally tallying the all of the times I have dosed the kids with Tylenol and sent them to school and daycare with my fingers crossed, of the missed first day of kindergarten drop off, or the weepy mornings when all I can say to stop the tears is “but I’m going to be late”. It is good, I realize, that I can’t be fired from my more important position for a lack of commitment.
For a month, I walk the halls and teach my classes as the living dead. Everyone knows my story but I put my head down and try to do my job with as much dignity as possible. Co-workers, students and parents are incredibly kind and supportive and still it sucks more than any other month I can remember. And then the principal summons me back to his office.
He has reconsidered. Not only will I not be let go, but I have the option of full or part time and regardless of my choice will be granted professional status, which will hugely increase my job security. I am calm, professional and completely flabbergasted. In the end, I opt to split the difference and take the part-time position.
So that’s the abridged version of the long story of what happened last year. The story of this year will, I hope, be different. I’m planning a story of balance: balancing my work as a teacher with my work as a mother and wife, offsetting all of that work with some serious play, finding time to indulge my love of cooking and eating and actually having enough time left over to sleep, and, of course, dream.