Shit or get off the pot

Sunday night I was feeling really down in the dumps about going back to work. While I love writing and implementing new curriculum, the day to day is wearing me down this year. The stress of arriving at the first school late (because my daughter is lagging on the way out the door or the traffic is horrendous), having no time at my school to get ready before my first class there, the sheer number of students I see every week and the paperwork they create… It’s all just getting me down.

I didn’t think I was mentioning much how down I feel about work, so when my husband totally blew up at me when I mentioned post-vacation blues, I was kind of taken aback. Clearly I had lanced a festering boil, and what came spewing out was shocking, and hurtful.

We had a pretty intense fight, and my husband ended up leaving the room. I was fine with that because I was seething with anger, physically shaking with the pressure of it, and I didn’t want to say anything I was going to regret.

When he came back in to talk I told him that his tone belied how he really felt, and asked him to leave again. He obliged.

Much later, after I’d had a good, body-wracking cry, he came back in and apologized. He said it was hard to know that I was miserable at work, even if I didn’t mention it. He said it sucked to know that decisions we made as a family (and that benefited him) were contributing to my unhappiness (taking my daughter to work, which leaves me no time to plan, prepare and grade papers at school). He said that it had been two years of me hating my job and it was really awful to think that might go on indefinitely.

I told him I absolutely agreed.

And while I’m still frustrating that he is (in my mind) putting his own feelings in front of my own, I get it. I understand how much it sucks to see someone you love unhappy with such a huge part of their life. Especially when the path out is complicated at best, impossible at worst.

I know, with this job stuff, I have to shit or get off the pot. I need to either commit to moving on or accept my job and find the positive in it. It’s just so complicated and hard. I really have only one option to change jobs–moving to high school–and that comes with a guaranteed pay cut (between $10-$25K in the districts I’m even willing to consider). In the months since our money situation has improved I’ve grown accustomed to letting go of that constant, financial stress that was always pulsating in the background. I don’t want to go back to second guessing every purchase, to worrying the VISA bill will drain our checking, to that feeling of constant deprivation. I don’t want to go back to worrying about money. I feel pretty confident that taking a pay cut of that magnitude would deteriorate my quality of life enough that any improvement caused by the new job would end up in a wash.

And there is no guarantee I would be happier at my new job. What if I try something new and I’m even more miserable, and all I have to show for it is a smaller pay check?

The thought is simply paralyzing.

But then, what if I get a new job and I love it so much it’s worth the pay cut?

The thought is equally paralyzing.

I can’t how the prospect of staying where I am indefinitely makes me feel, especially now that my schedule each year feels so uncertain.

The reality is there is only one way forward. I can look for jobs in the spring, when they become available, and if one seems so great that it’s worth the risk, I can apply for it. But like last year taught me, applying for a job that excites me doesn’t mean I’ll even get an interview.

And if there’s nothing worth pursuing in the spring–or I don’t get the jobs I do pursue–I have to suck it up for the following school year. I have to accept the situation and find the best in it.

I do think I’m attempting that this year. Writing new curriculum definitely helped make the first trimester a more positive and fulfilling experience. It also left me quite haggard. I’m hoping I can find a better balance in the next two trimesters, so that I can really enjoy creating something new, without feeling overwhelmed executing it.

In the end, it’s the day to day that gets me down, and I’m not sure how to feel better about that. The size of my 6th grade classes drains me, getting through even a relatively easy lesson plan is exhausting. That is one downside to my job that I don’t know how to mitigate. Right now all I can think is to endure it, but I wonder if a tweak in mindset could make “endure” look more like “accept.”

{I wonder sometimes if it’s just teaching that is getting me down, if after 13 years, any schedule, any set of classes, any aged students would feel like drudgery. Maybe I just don’t have what it takes to do this for 35 years. Maybe I have 23 more years of exhaustion ahead of me.}

Ugh. I’ve written this exact post so many times before. I keep circling around this topic, but I get the sense that I need to if I’m even going to pull the trigger and make a change. I would never have found the job that got me so excited last year if I hadn’t written posts like this one, and even though I didn’t get that job (or an interview), I did learn there are thing positions that feel worth the risk of leaving my secure, well-paying job for something completely unknown.

So I suppose I’ll keep writing post like these. And maybe some day, I’ll actually get to write one about getting a new job, or about committing wholeheartedly, to staying where I am.


  1. Oh, that sucks. Sorry you’re in that place career-wise. I’ve had my share of situations but not what you are dealing with. About your convo with your husband…you mentioned family decisions that made your life harder/his easier. Can he take your daughter to school so you can at least not have the running late/no time to prep stress for your first class? Seems like it’s your turn to benefit….

    And thank you for writing…my reader has a lot of stale blogs, so it was nice to see a post from you every day. It’s nice to hear what other working moms are going thru, especially those who are also devastated by the election..

  2. Man, those are tough choices facing you. Sorry about the fight. It’s hard when you hate your job and it’s hard to be the person who listens to a lot of complaints. I don’t think your husband or you are being fair to yourself though – your schedule this year is significantly more difficult than the one you had last year.

    In the interim, what can you both do to make the day-to-day easier? What solutions are there for getting your daughter to school? Because you are getting to work late and aren’t able to recover from that throughout the day. It’s something about a car right? Can you hire someone to take her to school? Another parent at school? And are you taking enough care of yourself that the day can be easier to get through?

  3. I once spent a year in a job that made me miserable. I would start feeling my stomach sink on Sunday evenings (or even afternoons), and by Monday mornings, my mood changed dramatically. It hurt me, and it hurt my relationship. I remember when it changed that my husband said, “it’s so nice to have the real you back.” I have vowed never to be so miserable in a job again.

    I have no great ideas. I just hope you can find something that gives you joy – or if not joy (because there is a reason it’s called “work”), then satisfaction.

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