What do I owe my family?

{So yesterday’s post was not supposed to go up without some editing, but I messed up and it was published without that editing, so the timing was super confusing. To clarify, my interview was last Friday, the 16th, and I was supposed to hear this Monday, the 19th, but now it’s Thursday the 21st and I still haven’t heard, which all but guarantees that I didn’t get the job. Hope that clarifies things.}

I have been thinking a lot about my kids and husband, and what I owe them as their mother and spouse, as I try to sort through my anxiety about actually being offered a job next year.

I read enough by empowered working mothers to understand that I can make my professional satisfaction a priority and accept a job that takes me away from my family in the mornings. Many families have a set-up where one parents manages mornings and drop-off and another manages pick-up and afternoons. We used to have that same set up, back when we had one kid, and even when we had two and my in-laws provided childcare for the 2nd and came to pick him up in the mornings, and my husband had a nice wide window of acceptable drop off times for my daughter. I wasn’t at home in the mornings for the first five years of my kids’ lives.

Then my daughter started public school and suddenly she had to BE THERE at 7:50am, and THERE was a school only a mile away as the crow flies, but inconvenient to get to on public transportation. Suddenly, getting her to school in the mornings without a car would be a 45 minute long expedition on two buses, one of which only comes by every 20 minutes. That is when I started requesting a schedule that lets me be home in the mornings.

{Which is one of the big reasons I got the bike! Except my husband neglected to mention that he can’t really ride a bike, but that is a contentious topic for a different post.}

So yes, I understand that I don’t have to be there for my family in the mornings. There are various possible solutions to the problem: hire someone to take our daughter to school; lease a 2nd car for a couple of years; get my husband on that damn bike.

But the thing is, it’s a lot to ask. The mornings are a stressful time in our house. Our daughter does not get up easily. She does not do anything easily in the mornings. And yes, I know most kids struggle in the mornings, but I have a feeling our daughter struggles a little more than others might. (Or maybe we just cope less well with her struggles than other parents do.)

And 7:50am is a really early start time. Even if you have a car. And getting TWO kids ready to be out the door at 7:30, and then parking and getting two kids out and taking one in and then getting the younger one back in the car, that is a lot (no, my daughter will NOT walk in on her own. You cannot physically force a kid to do that, believe me, I’ve tried). So mornings alone would be hard, especially for a man who is decidedly NOT a morning person.

Yes, I am making excuses for my husband. Yes, I should let him just suck it up and be a dad. And he could if I asked him to. He has consistently assured me that he could handle mornings if I were offered a high school position. But the reality is, he would be miserable if he had to manage mornings alone. And if he were miserable, I would be miserable too.

Of course one day I will be asking him to handle mornings alone. Hopefully next year I will be asking that of him. And hopefully next year our daughter will be better able to manage herself and her big emotions, and will be okay walking into school by herself and my son will be a more cooperative 4.5 year old than he is 3.5 year old, and it will all be a lot easier.  (We also hope our son will be at a TK or public pre-K closer to our daughter’s school, which will also help.)

And if it’s not a lot easier, my husband will still have to figure out a way to make it work.

I don’t know. Maybe I am selling myself short feeling like I have to be home in the mornings next year. Maybe I am creating a cycle of dependence by not assuming they can figure it out.

I love that I’m giving myself shit about this when I haven’t actually been offered a high school position for next year (as I mentioned above, the last school still hasn’t gotten back to me, which all but assures I haven’t gotten the job). This is a non-issue this year. And yet, it might have been one, and I’ve been rolling it around in my head a lot, trying to figure out what I should be willing to do.

Next year I hope very much to get a new job, at a high school, where I will need to be there at 8am. I will be working hard all year at making that happen, and I will definitely not let mornings at home keep me from that goal. Maybe that is all that matters, that next year I am willing to let my husband make it work, without shouldering guilt for not being there.

Man, who knew that changing things up (or trying to) on the work front would raise so many hard questions about my role at home. Life can be so enlightening sometimes.

Something to think about

So I lied when I said there were no other opportunities this year. On Sunday I actually applied for a job that went up earlier last week. It was at the same high school that I applied with last year and then was informed immediately that it was an inter-district transfer and no one would be interviewed. I truly assumed this other late posting was the same. But I applied because I promised myself I would apply to any high school job posting in the area.

I sent my confirmation email on Wednesday, assuming I’d get that same quick reply. They called me on Thursday to schedule an interview.

I was excited to get the call because at the time I was finishing packing my room and having a minor panic attack about how I’d manage to teach in five different rooms on two campuses next year. I was seriously freaking out that I couldn’t do it.

Mostly I was just excited to know I can get an interview without any connections. Sure it’s the end of the hiring season and a lot of the better candidates have been hired elsewhere, but hey, it’s better than not getting the interview under those circumstances.

I went to the interview Friday morning. I feel like I did better than I had at the other two interviews. But the woman who walked out as I was walking in is exactly who you think of when you imagine a Spanish teacher: little Hispanic lady, complete with blouse and sweater. And then the woman who walked in after me was recognized by one of the interviewers, who was really excited to see her. So yeah, I think I did well and also think I have absolutely no chance of getting the job.

Yes, I know I do have a chance. But really, I probably don’t.

And you know what, I’m not nervous at all. I’m supposed to hear back on Monday, and I’m not stressing in the least. And I think that’s because I don’t expect to get it.

I think I’m actually way more nervous about the prospect of actually being offered a job, as I am at the idea of being rejected.

I realized this after the interview with my high school. I didn’t think that interview went super well, but I thought it went okay, and I felt I had a higher chance of getting that job because of my few connections. I was a MESS in the week following that interview. A total and complete disaster.

But then, when I didn’t hear on Thursday, and I assumed I didn’t get the job, the stress went away. Waiting until they eventually got back to me on Tuesday was no problem, because I was sure at that point that I didn’t have the job.

Clearly the idea of getting a job offer is crazy making for me. And I have to delve into why that is.

For one thing, all of these high schools have a start time of 8am. I thought my high school had a start time of 9am now, but evidently zero period, which starts at 8am, is mandatory. It’s basically five classes on a seven period day. All the other schools are seven period days, so they start at 8am too. If I got one of those jobs, I wouldn’t not be able to bring my daughter to school in the mornings.

My school starts at 8:30 next year, and my principal honored my request for 1st period prep, so I don’t technically need to be on campus until 9:20. Even if there is horrible traffic, I will make it on time.

This gives me incredible piece of mind. Being there for my family, at least one more year, is important to me. I think that is the main reason I have been so stressed at the prospect of actually being offered a job.

But there is more to it. I’ve been at my school A LONG time. I know the people. I know the place. I know the systems and the expectations. It’s my second home. I have a lot of colleagues I consider friends, even if we don’t visit outside of school hours. A couple are true friends that I do see outside of work (or at least talk to). The idea of leaving all of that, and having to make a place for myself at a whole new school, is terrifying.

Also, what if I’m shit at teaching highschoolers? What if they rip me apart?

There are also the other things, like losing tenure and the security that comes with it. Being observed and knowing they can just not invite me back, without any justification what so ever, will be nerve wracking. Especially after how hard it’s been to get interviews and the rejections that have come after them. What if I lose my new job and can’t find another one?

So yeah, it turns out I’m actually terrified of getting a new job. And I really don’t feel ready to succeed at a new school next year.

I have a lot of work to do this year to make myself a more competitive candidate. And that work isn’t just about convincing others that I’m ready for the job, it’s about convincing myself that I’m prepared to do well somewhere else.

This whole experience has taught me so much. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to become more self-aware and understand that I need to grow professionally. Next year I have the right schedule to learn some new skills and build my confidence. Hopefully next spring the interview process will be very different.

 

Nope

I finally heard from my high school. I didn’t get the job. 

I have to tell my district that I’m leaving by the end of the month (or I break next year’s contract and they can take action against me for that), which is when I leave for Ecuador anyway, so that was my final opportunity to find a new job for next year. I’ll have to wait until next spring to start again. 

I have A LOT of work to do this coming year to make myself a more competitive candidate. I hope it helps. 

Super Intense Week

Well, we got through it. Last week, and this weekend, were super intense, but they are over and I’m so glad.

All week I had to, quite literally, run to my car after work to get to summer camp pick up in time. I was picking up my daughter and her friend all week, and watching the friend from 3:30 until 5:30 or 6pm (her mom was doing drop off, which was immensely helpful for us). My son was sick with a cold and pink eye so we had to cobble coverage for him through Thursday. My daughter’s birthday was Wednesday, and both sets of grandparents came over to hep us celebrate. Thursday my daughter’s summer camp had a show. Friday afternoon I was getting ready for Saturday’s birthday party.

All week I was manically grading tests and inputting scores. Oh, and packing my entire room up while my students watched a Spanish movie.

The packing up of my room really bummed me out.

And I never heard from my high school about the job.

But the worst thing last week was learning that my best friend at work’s husband has cancer. His prognosis isn’t good. She is a breast cancer survivor so they know what they are getting into. They are both in their 40’s. Their daughter is in 6th grade.

Definitely put my own stresses into perspective. And made me really, really sad.

Saturday we took six 7-year-olds (and our 3.5-year-old son) to the local amusement park. My parents came, and two of the moms. It was a ton of fun, but totally exhausting. Still, I’m glad we did it. The girls loved it and the parents were thrilled that their daughters had such a great time. It was most of the first time there for most of them. My daughter’s 7th birthday party was a huge success.

Sunday my daughter’s good friend had her birthday party, so we were all back together again for a long celebration. I’m so glad birthday weekend is over.

This week I have to get my room entirely packed by 3pm on Thursday. I’m not quite sure what will happen if it’s not ready at that time (my principal hasn’t really been around to ask). I am reminded of that time in my senior year of college, when I was pulling an all nighter and realized at 7am that I would write for the next three hours and my paper still wouldn’t be done at 10am when it was due. I distinctly remember sprinting onto campus at 11am and handing my paper over to my professor as the class walked out. “This was due an hour ago,” she informed me. “I know, but it wasn’t done then,” was all I could manage as I gasped for breath. I told her I understood if she wouldn’t accept it, and was so relieved a week later when I checked my grades and realized she had.

Wednesday is our last day with the kids. Thursday will be the final push to be packed. And then… summer.

And maybe, at some point this week, my high school will have the decency to formally let me know I didn’t get that job.

Seven

{So… yesterday’s post was supposed to go up today (Thursday) and this post was supposed to go up yesterday (Wednesday) but sometimes you don’t change the schedule date to the next day before “scheduling” and end up just posting something right then and you can’t undo it once it’s done.}

My daughter turned seven yesterday. Seven.

It feels like a really big number, and not just because it’s my lucky number.

I think it seems old because seven if the first year of my life that I really remember. My sister was born and we moved to Hong Kong. I can reach back and see things at seven. Before that it’s kind of all a blur.

I don’t know if my daughter will be the same, but even if she doesn’t remember more about this year of her life than the ones before, I can’t deny how much more grown up she seems. 

I’m excited for her. 

I’m excited for us both. 

Parallels

This week has been… difficult for me. It seems that I am not nearly as accepting of uncertainty as I want to be. Not shocking but still disappointing.

It’s not that I’m disappointed in myself, or think I should be able to manage the week after an interview better. It’s more that I’m upset to realize that when I apply for new jobs in the future, I will struggle so much in the days and weeks before I know the final answer. It’s just a shitty way to live life and I wish I could handle it better.

The experience, especially the counting down, transported me back to my TTC days. God, those two-week waits were the fucking worst. I found my thoughts cycling through very familiar patterns of pure, unbridled hope to cautious optimism, to crippling dread, to stomach-churning anxiety, to dark depression and then back again. When I got the email from the other school, detailing why I wasn’t being considered, it was like a cycle when I’d missed the best days to have sex and was sure it wasn’t going to work. When I realized the school hadn’t contacted any of my references (despite talking with me about them for a long time at the end of the interview, and assuring me they’d be contacting them soon) it was a cycle with absolutely no symptoms, no sore breasts, no fatigue, nothing.

And tomorrow my “period is due.” They are supposed to let me know if I got it or not.

Of course they might not. Just like periods can be a day or two late even when you’re not pregnant, I might bite my nails all day for nothing. I hate being out of control.

And there are feelings of self-worth on the line. Is this my last chance to get a job? No. Just like I never had to endure a final attempt at getting pregnant, I know I can always try again. (Of course, I’ll have to wait a year to do that, which does up the stakes a little.) Failing to get pregnant always felt like failing at some basic human process, the result of which all my friends managed without issue. Failing to be offered a job feels like a similar failure that so many friends haven’t had to face. Last year 13 staff members left, five of them to go on to high schools. Why can they do what I can’t? What is wrong with me?

Being thrust back into a week of waiting reminds me how grateful I am to be past the TTC era of my life. I always vaguely remember what a complete basket case I was during that time, but I haven’t felt that kind of batshit crazy in years. Lordy, am I glad I don’t have to play this game every month anymore.

Recognizing the parallels between this experience and TTC, also reminded me of some of the lessons I wish I had learned before trying to start a family. I thought parenthood would make my life perfect, but it has been very challenging for me to adjust to life as a mother. Motherhood was not the panacea I expected, and I have wished many times I could have known that during my struggles. I’m employing the lesson now to remind myself that even if I do get the job, my day to day life won’t necessarily be “better.” Especially not at first. Working at a high school is a goal I have for a lot of reasons, but it will not, in and of itself, make me like teaching more than I do now. It’s a goal that I can still pursue in the future, and in the meantime I can make a lot of choices that improve my quality of life without that change.

Honestly, there are times I think about next year and wonder if I really will be happier at a new job. I get just as anxious assuming I will get the job as I do assuming I won’t.

Mostly I’m worried I won’t get it because it will be another professional rejection, this time from a place where I have some history and even a (albeit weak) connection. There is also this idea that if I don’t get this, I’ll be less likely to get something in the future. Like this rejection will foretell future rejections (this was also how I felt when I was trying to get pregnant, every negative was further proof that it was never going to happen).

Of course, that is not necessarily the case. I have a solid plan to make myself a more compelling candidate next year. Just because I don’t get this job, doesn’t mean I can’t get something in the future.

The reality is, with such a specific position, in such a small area (I think there are only 7 high schools that fall in the area I am able to consider for salary and commute reasons), I may have to be ready to play the long game. I’m only on my second year of applying, and in many ways it was my first, as I only applied to two jobs at the end of last year and neither was really accepting applicants (both ended up being in-district transfers). I need to be patient, and ready to keep improving until I am the teacher high schools want me to be.

Next year I will be okay, not matter what the outcome. And I do know that. I just wish I could tap into whatever fuels my latent anxiety so I can stop feeling nauseous all the time.

Hopefully tomorrow I will no either way, I can move forward with a little more certainty about what next year will look like.

Also, only one more week of school!

:-/

I have never been very good at writing here when things are going well. I’m just not quite sure what to say. I’m not the biggest fan of my own posts about how awesome everything is. I either find them kind of boring (or at least not very compelling) or toeing humblebrag (if they aren’t knee deep in it). I don’t do them well; they are not my most interesting posts. 

I have always come to this place to exorcise my demons. But then I got called out on that, more than once, and so I’ve tried to temper pretty much everything I write. I suppose that is growing up. One might even call it perspective.

I read the blogs of a lot of women, extraordinary women, who are wading through incredibly difficult lives. Their problems are real, with a capital P. Their shit is legit. These women have to navigate divorce, marital affairs, chronic illness, resolving IF and loss childfree/less, stillbirth, infant death, children with severe health issues. These are really intense, life-altering issues. These women write eloquently about their situations, putting up posts that teach me what resilience really means, what it looks like in the day to day.

After reading posts like that, I am loathe to come here and write a post about how I can’t find another job, even though I have a fine one that pays the bills, where I’m treated fairly and with respect (at least by my colleagues and direct superiors). I am weary to publish something about my marital issues, or my own personal challenges in parenting my kids, because it all feels so…pedestrian.

Yes, these issues are relateable. Yes people see themselves in my struggles. It’s not that I think there is no place for posts like mine in the world, I just doubt mine are insightful enough to do those universal topics justice. I don’t have a thoughtful lesson to tie it all up with in the end.

What I am learning about myself is that I’m not all the resilient. I mean, I knew that, but it’s humbling to be shown evidence of it over and over again. My thought process tend toward anxiety and depression, I am not someone who bounces back from adversity, stronger than before. Instead I have learned a fraction of the lesson, so that the next time I am slightly better prepared. And yet I keep making the same mistakes. I keep stumbling over the same cracks in the sidewalk, instead of stepping over them the next time I walk down that particular block.

I never managed to get the job stuff out of my head this weekend. It was infuriating, because I really and truly do not think I’m going to get the job. One of the schools that never contacted me for an interview, even though they extended their application deadline indicating they hadn’t found a suitable candidate, finally responded to my confirmation email (because I sent it again). Evidently I am not being considered because they want someone with high school experience. I hadn’t even remembered that not having high school experience was a weakness of mine. I was so focused on not being a native speaker than I forgot my real fault was being a middle school teacher.

They are interviewing five people for the position at my high school. Surely someone has high school experience, or is a native speaker, or both. And yes I know, in the workplace people can hire applicants for any number of reasons, but in education, people generally hire people for a narrow range of skills and experience.

And of course teachers right out of school get hired. It does happen. But high school Spanish positions are not as plentiful, and in California a lot of people speak Spanish.

I mean, if I could move to another state and apply to Spanish positions I’d probably have a lot better chance of finding one than I would here.

Or if I were able to work part time for a year or two, and then be in a position to request a full time position when one opened up. Except I’m not in that position, and I never will be.

So I really and truly do not think I’m going to get this position. And yet I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve tried every strategy I know of, but the thoughts just keep popping back into my head. And even though I know, deep in my heart, that I will be okay next year at my current school, I can’t seem to avoid the stress. In fact, if I start thinking really positively about next year at my school, I start getting stressed that I will be offered the position and won’t know if I should take it!

It’s crazy making!

Sometimes I hate myself so much. I hate the way my brain works. I hate my tendencies to spiral into anxiety and depression. It seems no amount of self-awareness or self-compassion will ever change what actually goes on in my head. I just have to learn to ride out the storms.

And yes, I have gotten better. I my coping skills are more refined, more effective. But I can’t seem to avoid myself, and I suppose I never will have that ability. I am who I am. I need to accept it. To accept me.

I hope as I get older, I chill the fuck out a little.

(I guess I ended up writing that post anyway.)

 

Me time

My husband and I had are first big fight in long time. 

I know why it happened. I know what I could have done to prevent it. But I didn’t prevent it, and it happened. 

I should be asleep right now. My husband is and he never get up with the kids; the “night parenting” it mine to manage. 

But I needed something for myself today. Something that is all my own. 

So I’m two cocktails and a second episode into the Handsmaid Tale. 

It’s nice to have some time and mental space to myself. 

One week, Two weeks

My interview was yesterday morning. I think it went okay. Probably better than the other one. I think the administrator really liked me. I don’t think the Spanish teacher there was very impressed.

They have interviews into next week but hope to let me know by Thursday.

One week.

I’m honestly so exhausted by the whole thing, I don’t have the energy to care much anymore. I don’t think I’m going to get it, and I’m okay with that. It will sting all the more this time, since I have some connections at this school, but I will get over it and move on.

I’m still packing my resources separately from my school’s resources, but otherwise I’m just not going to think about it. I can’t.

My daughter’s birthday is next Wednesday and her party is the following Saturday. I have tons of tests to grade and scores in input at school. There is plenty to distract me, and I’m hoping that by tomorrow or Saturday weekend I’m just not thinking about it anymore.

And honestly, there is a lot I’m looking forward to about my schedule next year. It will be okay either way.

At this point I am just done. My kids are so intense right now. After the three day weekend I was looking forward to going back to work! My 3.5 year old son is especially challenging. My husband and I are both totally overwhelmed with work and other commitments. We are totally spent at the end of each day.

I know it always feels this way at the end of the school year. I know these challenges are not the really hard ones, the ones I read about on other people’s blogs, the ones I hear about in other people’s lives. I know it’s just a few bumps in our otherwise pretty smooth road. I do have that perspective.

I’m just tired. And I want the school year to be over. And I want to know for sure where I’m working next year.

One week. Two weeks. Then this will all be over.

It’s Complicated

Can I tell you how much I don’t want to be applying for this job right now? It really complicates things.

First off, this application requires a few things my past applications have not. Luckily I have copies of all my transcripts to scan, but I’m not sure when last year’s assistant principal will get around to sending me a finalized copy of the third letter of reference that I need. I wrote a draft of a letter Friday night, in the hopes that she could edit and return it by Tuesday. We’ll see. I still haven’t heard from her.

I also spent an hour on Saturday getting pricked for a TB test that will be read on Monday (yay for random urgent care clinics in my neighborhood!). I have an up-to-date TB screening at work, but I don’t want to ask for it because it will look suspicious (and also will probably take them a week to get it to me).

Acquiring and putting together all of this stuff is not easy, especially when I still have to make a review and test for my 6th graders, grade a ton of papers, AND pack my classroom.

As for packing my classroom, I would be doing a totally different job if I knew for sure I wouldn’t be returning next year. Since I’m not sure how this will play out, I’m keeping my own personal resources separated from the school’s resources. I don’t know if I’ll have to repack my own stuff into my own boxes once I know I’ll need to take them with me. That would suck, but I would understand. If I do get the job, I’m hoping they will let me return the boxes at the beginning of the school year, as my old high school (where I am applying) is literally RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from my current school–we hear their bells ringing, and announcements blaring, all day long–so it wouldn’t be hard to return them.

This job is also not as exciting as the one I interviewed for before. The Spanish program at my old high school does not have a stellar reputation. In the past they have been very strict about how, and from what, teachers were allowed to teach. I might be stuck with a textbook if I get the job, and that would not be good. (This was 12 years ago, so it’s possible the department has changed.)

They also don’t have block schedule days, which I was really looking forward to. The other high school district has two block days a week, and our school will be having them next year. I was really looking forward to teaching with block days, and it’s a bummer that opportunity would disappear.

There are some pros to this job. Their pay schedule is higher than ours (but lower than the other high school district I applied to – though they are about to get a raise). They take 10 years of experience, instead of five, which is awesome. Also, they start at 9am, which means I wouldn’t have to negotiate when my prep falls. That is very good news.

I feel like I have to apply, because I have a bit of an “in” there. My leadership teacher remembers me and really wants me to get the job. He promised to put in a good word for me and I plan to visit him Wednesday, when he’ll hopefully introduce me to the instructional vice-principal. At that point I hope to have my application submitted. (They had a minimum day on Friday so I couldn’t visit him then.)

So it’s not necessarily a job I actually want (specifically), and the timing could not be more stressful, but it’s an opportunity to get my foot in the door at a high school that I can’t pass up. Also, the only reason I know about it is because a colleague’s wife works in the district and mentioned the opening to him, and he remembered I was looking around so he passed the news along to me. I haven’t even been checking the job site anymore because posting this late are rare. I’m definitely a sucker for that whole, “maybe it’s fate,” feeling, even though I don’t really believe in fate. I guess I’m more superstitious than I like to admit.

So yeah, this is inserting a whole lot of stress and uncertainty into an already stressful and uncertain time. I also don’t know how well I will weather more rejection. What if, despite my connections, I don’t even get an interview? What if I get the interview but they don’t ultimately hire me? I feel like it will hurt even more when I have to face my leadership teacher with the news that I didn’t get the job.

The last rejection was really hard for me. I was so unimpressed with my performance during the interview; it took weeks for me to stop berating myself for how horribly I did. These feelings were compounded by discovering that a friend had another friend put in a good word for me, which is probably why I got the interview in the first place. To know that I did a shitty job when someone else’s reputation was on the line was more than I could bare. (And to realize I most certainly wouldn’t have gotten the interview without that recommendation had me spiraling back into feelings of general unworthiness).

The other shitty aspect of this situation is that I was starting to feel pretty positive about next year. Yes, not having a classroom is going to suck, and commuting between schools with so little travel time is very stressful, but I really like the classes I have next year. I find myself disparaging my current job to boost my enthusiasm enough to apply, which I absolutely cannot do since I need to feel good about next year if I am ultimately rejected.

Man, I was so ignorant about job searching; I had no idea how much time and self-confidence it required. I didn’t realize that every failure to get an interview would feel like a rejection of me professionally. I didn’t realize that I would worry about asking others to put in a good word for me, for fear of my own failure reflecting poorly on them. The whole process is a total mindfuck. I really, really dislike it.

I do appreciate that I am in a relatively good place about next year. That will soften the probable blow, which I’m assuming will eventually come. The truth is I don’t expect to be offered the job, but feel I can’t ignore the opportunity–I suppose I’m more weary of regret than rejection. I guess that’s a good thing; I’m still standing on the right side of resignation. I don’t know for how many years that will be the case.