Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mutually Exclusive

So my darling husband and I had an interesting conversation two nights ago.

Over the last few months, I've made some rather huge changes in my life. All of this has been done through much discussion and prayer (and occasionally gobs of tissues) with my husband. I'm thankful that we have worked so hard on our marriage in the last few years that there is basically no subject that we don't discuss in our marriage. Makes life quite simple.

Any who...when I decided to quit my teaching job, there were several reasons for that decision, two of which are the following:

1. Teaching is a very demanding job. I've begun to realize over the years exactly why so many of the best teachers whom I have come into contact with are either divorced or single. It's obviously not impossible to teach and be married, but it definitely puts strain on a marriage and requires a goodly number of sacrifices either from the job or from the marriage. Now, to some degree, that might be due in part to the particular classes/age levels/subject matter I taught - either way - my dearest of husbands has put up with a lot over the last few years. So, one of the reasons I had for leaving my teaching job and taking a slightly less time-consuming job was that I wanted to have a job - for at least a small time in my life - that I worked for 40 hours a week and then leave there and not have to worry about extra grading etc. I wanted to be able to do things on a weekend without factoring in how many hours of grading or lesson planning I needed to do, and if I would have time to do them if we went out and did _________ (fill in the blank with any number of a myriad of activities). I wanted to be able to hang out late in the evening during the week and not be constantly worrying about dealing with all the students the next day. Basically, I wanted more free time to "live" my life - not just pour into teaching. For those who don't know, I've never actually held a regular 9-5 job in my adult career. For five years I taught ballet which took up nearly every evening during the week and much other time as well. Or else I worked a job but was in school full-time as well which meant all my free time was taken up. And I went from all that straight into teaching. That's why the luxury of leaving work on a Friday and knowing you truly don't have to think about your job for two whole days is such a novelty to me!

2. The other major reason I gave for leaving teaching when I did was to work on my masters. I was trying to do that and teach and it was HORRIBLE. When you are already working 50 to 60 hours per week, tacking on 10+ extra hours every week is extremely hard. Yes, yes, I know tons of people do it, but I'm not tons of people. I'm me. And I'm learning to be nice to me....So, by finding a more 9 to 5ish kind of position, I opened up my schedule a little better to make getting my masters a little less frustrating.

Side note: For those of you who don't know me well, I love school. I love learning; I even like homework in some sick way :) I have every intention of someday earning my doctorate, partially because I'd love to be able to teach on the college level, but even more because I want to earn my doctorate! I know, I know...I'm an odd duck...I can't help it. I just love learning. However, also for those of you who don't know me too well, I have a tendency to stretch myself to thin at times. I forget that I'm really not super-woman (a very frustrating fact btw), and so wind up taking on too much and having to let other things suffer - which sadly often becomes friends and family. This is an area I've really been working on the last few years.

Back to the main point: Here's the problem. Reason 1 and Reason 2 are somewhat mutually exclusive. It's hard to have more free time when you're taking on doing a masters full time and still working full time!

This was the issue my dearest of husbands raised the other night (the night before I was on the verge of signing all my paperwork stuff to start school in the Fall). We wound up talking for several hours (we're really bad about that. We start these conversations right before bed and end up staying up way too late because we have to finish the conversation! Plus, we're both so analytical, that one small point can lead to 10 other points which lead...well, you get the picture), and the final upshot is that I'm not starting my masters this fall. In fact, I'm going to do something I'm going to take some time off for a whole year. Scary thought - Hanna take time off?! Yes, I know, it's mind-boggling to me as well, but there you have it.

The funny thing is that I never even considered taking time off. This just seemed like the next immediate step I had to take regardless of whether or not I was still currently teaching. But my husband knows me well enough to be able to look at my face and realize what I could not - that ever since I started this new job, I've looked exhausted and unhappy. I personally didn't notice anything. Sure, I was tired, but it's just having a new job - I told myself. But when Chris brought up this idea and we talked about all the different surrounding aspects to it, I realized how much relief and even hope I felt at not starting school this fall. And that is a serious wake-up call for me.

Why? The job is relatively straight-forward - lots to learn, but I'm picking it up fast. I had my schooling all planned out. But, as is sometimes my nature, I was looking to the future but not stopping to look at the what was actually going on around me. And Christopher felt like he was being left behind as well...and that's never good. So, we are taking a year to ontologize but also to pray and search for where God wants the two of us to go and what he wants us to do. We hope to get involved more deeply in some of the different ministries our church offers or other areas that are out there. Not take on too much, but try to put some feelers out to see if maybe God will open some doors or otherwise clue us in to what He wants from us!!! C has also talked about opening up his job-options a little more by pursuing a masters, but he's never settled on what area, partially because of my tendency to forge on ahead and forget to wait and catch up all the other details of my life!

All in all, this was a somewhat humbling conversation I held with my husband, but it was beneficial. And I feel so much peace right now about this decision, that I'm alsost holding my breath in anticipation to see what we might discover next!

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