Whoa, it’s been a crazy overwhelming couple of weeks, and I’ve struggled to find a moment to breathe let alone write. There has been so much change, so many emotions and stress. Every new season in life comes with both ups and downs, right?
A new season in life
I’ve known the day of me returning to work was around the corner, but it’s been a huge struggle to get all of the pieces needed to make that happen come together. If you’ve been following my story, you will know that when I left my abusive marriage last April, my ex who had been controlling me financially cut me off completely and I’ve been left without a bank account, a car and starting completely over with my 2 boys. It’s been almost 8 months without any child support with not much change in hope legally (I’ll save that for another post). Without money saved for childcare for my youngest and a car, it’s been very overwhelming trying to figure out a new career after staying home for so long.
An opportunity came up a couple weeks ago for a 12-week interim second grade teaching position and with good pay and school hours, I knew I had to at least apply for the job. I taught for 6 years in Florida, but that was 11 years ago, before kids, so the thought of returning to the classroom came with many mixed emotions. I liked teaching at a time, but I always thought when I was teaching that it would be a struggle to give my all, all day long to other people’s kids and then come home and still have enough patience leftover to be fully present for my own. Since making the big move and thinking about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, I’ve thought about teaching a lot. As a single mom I want to be with my boys as much as possible. The hours of teaching would be ideal, to be home after school, to be off when my son is on vacation. However, with a single income and starting from scratch, the pay is not so ideal. It saddens me how underpaid our teachers here are. I had looked into being a TA a few months ago and you could make more money working at Starbucks then being a teacher’s assistance. I was running my thoughts by a dear friend, and I mentioned that I felt that maybe a 12-week teaching position would allow me time to figure out if teaching is where my heart is at. She told me that she thought that was amazing mindset to have with taking the job. Well, I interviewed on a Thursday and was offered the job on the spot and started teaching the following Tuesday and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
Sadness of dropping my youngest off at daycare for the first time
I really struggled with the thought of leaving my newly 2-year-old, like really struggled. I don’t know why this is so hard for me. So many moms go back to work almost 2 years earlier then I am. But everyone’s journey is so different, everyone’s journey through motherhood is their own. I have a newfound respect for all those working moms out there, as the new juggle I’ve been challenged with has been very overwhelming. I always imagined that I would be with my boys until they were in school. I truly love being a stay-at-home mom and I feel like I’m good at it. Growing up, I never felt like I was truly great at something. I did great in school, but I had to work my butt off. I was an athlete, but never a star, and I just never found like I found my niche in life, until I became a mom. Being a mom has brought me so much sense of self-worth and as challenging as it is, I just love raising my boys. I feel like they are becoming pretty amazing humans and I’d like to think I have something to do with that. I had so much one on one time with my oldest before my youngest was born. And although in a perfect world I would have had them much closer together in age, I found happiness that now that my oldest was in school that I was also going to get that one-on-one time with my youngest. I didn’t think I would be going back to work so soon, and it’s been hard to process the emotions of feeling like I’m going to miss out on so much. I’m used to being there for all of it, the good and the bad. When I dropped him off on day one, he went right in happy to play with all the new toys and didn’t even notice that I left. I sat in my car, and I cried. I knew he would be ok; I knew I would be so busy with my 22 second graders to dwell too much, but it was such a huge first for the both of us. I’m incredibly thankful that a girl I grew up withs mom lives a few houses down and has had her own at home daycare since we were kids. I found comfort in dropping him off somewhere I had spent a lot of time at as a kid. I’m also incredibly thankful that my mom who we live with is watching him 3 days of the week, so it’s made this transition a lot easier to ease into. Other than being sick after one day of day care and refusing to nap there, he’s having a wonderful time making new friends and that makes the sting of not being with him hurt a little less.
Back in the classroom after 11 years
I was so nervous coming into a classroom this far into the year, not having any idea of the curriculum, and not teaching in oh so many years. My first day I got to the school, grabbed my badge and was immediately told that I had an hour-long IEP meeting for one of my students. Surprise! Nothing like a curve ball on the first day. The first day was A LOT and I was feeling by the end of day one that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. I missed my boys. I was exhausted. I got up at 5 and still didn’t seem to have enough time to get all that I needed to do. I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything, and I was feeling pretty down. But I reminded myself to allow myself some grace. This is new, this is so much change, it’s day one. I reminded myself to be patient and that tomorrow would be better. Each day would be a little better and become a little easier…and it did. By day three my teaching days started to come back. I navigated away from the busy work sub plans and decided to actually teach a lesson and I quickly was reminded that I can do this. I was a good teacher once upon a time, I’m good with kids, my boys will be ok, and we can do this. I’m still overwhelmed and I’m now sick with a nasty head cold after only a week and a half of school, but I’m confident that I can do this.
One step closer to independence
When I was offered the job, I knew other than childcare there was still a difficult piece of the puzzle to figure out. I had to turn in my leased vehicle when we left because he stopped paying my bills, so my mom and I have been sharing a car. Worked out fine for a while, but it’s been such a struggle at times and with accepting this job and knowing she would be watching my youngest, we both knew getting me a car was a necessity. I’ve been fighting legally to get access to some of the proceeds of our home that is tied up in a trust fund for a car with little luck so far. When I got this job, I knew that after 12 weeks I would have enough money for a used car, so my mom offered to loan me the money upfront. When I drove off the lot in my new car, I felt like I had taken one more step away from my ex’s grasp. One of my best friends texted me and said, “No one can take this from you. You don’t have to worry about him holding this over you, threatening to stop paying the payment. This is yours and he can’t take it from you.” And she was right. He’s taken so much from me, and my boys and he could not take this. This was mine and I’m doing it all without him. And that brought me so much joy. It’s one step closer to my independence. I’m reminding myself every day that as much as he tried to make me feel as though I needed him, in his words exactly, “you could never survive the real world without me”, I don’t need him. Not only do I not need him, but we are so much happier without him in our lives. I’m regaining my independence and my inner strength little by little each and every day.