That Year I Quit Teaching

So I don’t talk about this very often, but I have a brief but passionate history
with a career in Early Childhood Education.
(I know, NOT something you’d typically describe as brief or passionate.)
Spoiler alert: IT DIDN’T WORK OUT.

But I wanted to just share this part of my background, because ultimately:

My hellish year of teaching helped me embrace my true life’s work as a Mom.

Plus, I think it might be therapeutic to just get it all out.
SO… here’goes! FEELINGS ARE COMIN’ ATCHYA!

How it Began:
I’m what you’d call and “ALL-IN” person.
So when I decided in my early twenties to try teaching preschool,
I hurled myself at the challenge with all the bright-eyed enthusiasm my heart could hold.
I enrolled in my community college’s early childhood education program,
knocked out an associate’s degree in under a year,
and discovered that I was really good at it.
I mean… R E A L L Y good at it.

Like so good at it, I was invited to be on the college’s E.C.E. Board.
I was President of the E.C.E. club.
I devoured all the textbooks I got my hands on.
I interviewed at like 20 daycare centers and got a job teaching in one of the nicest centers in our region.
I was offered a scholarship to continue my education.
I became like a weird, artsy poster child of my daycare center.
I think I was kind of annoying, I was so good at it.

Kind of like right now, as I endlessly toot my own horn at you, dear reader.
*ahem, moving on!*

The most important thing was that I LOVED spending time with children!
And I loved that finally, FINALLY,
I had found my grown up job!!

My place where I could be creative and silly,
emotional and heartfelt,
smart and challenged,
and I could actually tell people about my work:
because… it was a normal job.
(AKA: I wasn’t just an art-school-drop-out anymore! Look at me, Ma!)
*sigh* I had big plans. And the career field seemed to have big plans for ME.

That year was a whirlwind.
I laughed every day and genuinely loved my students,
and came up with a zillion mind-blowing art activities,
and inspired other teachers,
and reignited life into this daycare center,
and made all the parents smile when they dropped their kids off in the morning.
(I even had a private blog for the parents of my classroom, HEY-O!)

but…
I also came home bruised so badly from tantrums I had to cover my legs in summer.
I found myself crying every day,
having arguments with my director,
and having to stick up for myself and my students for things that are honestly painful to think about to this day.
I felt trapped by the pressure to implement materials that I didn’t believe were right for many of my students.
I spent most of my paychecks on supplies and materials.
I worried constantly about my students who needed extra help emotionally and developmentally.
I was generally stretched way too thin, waking up at night from frequent anxiety attacks.
…all from career in DAYCARE.
DAYCARE!!!
Where sweet children have to live their LIVES!

By the way: This was the turning point when I knew that I would be a Stay at Home Mom.

It took less than one year of teaching for my husband to ask me,
gently and genuinely,
to please quit.

And boy was I relieved that he just asked me!!
That he helped lift that burden!
I couldn’t admit defeat, but I wanted so badly for it to all just be over.
So we decided together that I would quit, work on my art, allow myself to embrace homemaking, and we would rely on his income.

We would save my enthusiasm and creative ideas and experience for OUR future children.

*sigh*
I carried a lot of shame for not being able to handle the career.
That’s why I don’t talk about it now.
(Remember? I’m an ALL-IN person. So I feel like I failed.)

And I know, I know. It’s silly to carry that negativity. But it was a very emotional year for me.
I turned away from something I was truly talented at.
And a lot of people were disappointed in me.
…But ultimately, it just wasn’t making me happy.
So selfish as it felt, I turned away from my calling to teach..

And guess WHAT?
Fast forward 5 years: I am SO thankful that I gave it up when I did!!!!!

!!!!!!!

!!!!!

…seriously… !!!!!!

I stepped away to prioritize myself AND
to save my energy for our own little girl!

I can give her everything I learned in that whirlwind of joy and tears.
I can hold her and encourage her and give her ALL my enthusiasm and joy.
Forever and ever.

All hey, that experience was valuable!
I LOVE implementing my teaching experience at HOME.
And it’s made me into the kickass Toddler-Mom I am today.

Not only can I whip up some bangin’ activities on the fly,
all those tears and worries and super-duper-tantrum-experiences gave me some CHOPS, man.
(LOL… seriously tho… have YOU ever had a tiny human scoop spit out of his mouth and hurl it at you like a baseball? …THIS GIRL HAS!)

And most of all, I learned something I hope to model for Violet over her lifetime:

Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

I don’t care WHAT she does with her MANY talents
(bc let’s be real, she’s already MEGA talented. She 14 months old and can say like 15 words. Say-whaaaat?!)
In all seriousness though, I just want her to be happy.
Her talents are her’s alone, and if she doesn’t want to use them, that’s her prerogative!

And I hope to show her that you CAN choose a joyful life.

My version of a joyful life happens to be pretty simple:
staying home to nurture my family, and enjoying the yarn community in my free time!

I may not be a “traditional Feminist” since I choose to stay home,
but you better believe that I FOUGHT for this life.
I continue to fight for it every day.
Living on one income is a challenge, both fiscally and socially.
It raises a lot of questions.
But it makes me and my family really happy.
So we’re making modern-homemaking WORK!

I hope I can always have the strength to choose AND to model how to be content with the life that I enjoy.

How about you?
Have YOU ever held onto a role because you felt you SHOULD?
Because it would be a “waste of your talents” not to?
I’m here to say: SCREW THAT! You do YOU.

Deliberately walking away from your current role doesn’t negate the wisdom you’ve accrued along the way.

Take it from me: all the experience you gained along the way WILL inevitably come in handy.
Maybe not so overtly as mine,
Maybe not so quickly as mine,
Maybe not until a zombie apocalypse happens,
Maybe not until this seemingly-endless blog post is over,
But it WILL come in handy.

Now GO GET EM’ TIGER!

Or as the wise Mary Oliver would (more poetically) say:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Whew!
Blog post over!
I did it! I talked about being a teacher!
Thanks for listening, loves.
xx, Beth

 

Leave a Reply

  • DANG! SO powerful and I feel like you’re reading my mind. And I’m old enough to be your mother, so I grew up in the sixties and seventies when women weren’t necessarily “programmed” to plan for a career. Yet I still struggle with being a feminist and a SAHM. And it’s further complicated when raising girls. You want them to have choices and be happy, while not thinking there is only one way to live. I have to check myself when I talk about women who put their children in daycare, circumstances may require that for my girls someday. Yet they know how I feel about taking care of your babies and being present for them. And now that they are meeting more people in college, they appreciate me even more and are actually proud to say my Mom stayed at home with us. Second thing I picked up on was that you are sooooo wise to already know you must remove yourself from negative experiences and people, I tell my girls all the time it’s not disloyal to “move on” from a “friend” or club etc. You have to do what’s best for YOU. Period. The sooner in life you are able to do that the happier and more in control of your life you will be. Last thought was that you don’t lose all the experience and knowledge you gained when you move on from an experience/job. I worked for 10 years in Human Resources before “retiring” to have babies. I am now drawing on that experience as my oldest begins her post college job hunting. I’m amazed at myself sometimes and she is equally amazed. NOTHING is for nothing. I just love that you are pouring yourself out to us. You articulate so many things I feel and know in my heart but can’t seem to say. xoxoxoxoxo PS: this post is going to be required reading for my girls.

  • 💓💓 I love this post. I’m a (former) teacher too. I’ve stepped away to have #3 because I knew I couldn’t handle both ideas. Going in and out of the field pre and post children has changed the way I feel and understand education a lot.

    • Kate, thank you so much for commenting! I can only imagine how much different teaching must feel after becoming a Mom. On one hand, I think I’d have so much more empathy and compassion to give. On the other hand, I think I’d be compleeeetely overwhelmed by that extra capacity for empathy. It’s such a complicated, emotional field <3