I have this neurotic desire to search around Craigslist for jobs. It is as though somehow this
allows me to waste time makes me feel productive. Normally there are no jobs which would really be worth the hassle of a complete job/schedule shift. This somehow makes me feel better about not pulling in 2,500 dollars a month. However, yesterday I saw this...
Temporary math teacher needed at our small, non-profit, relationship-based alternative school for students in 6-10th grades. Our student population has typically not been successful in larger, public-school settings and many of our students come from dysfunctional and/or high-risk situations. We utilize a strong, team-based approach. Teaching credential is preferred but not required. Knowledge of and ability to teach math through algebra is required (through trigonometry is preferred). Position also requires demonstrated skills in communication and rapport with alienated, disaffected middle to early high school students who may require very individualized curriculum planning. Experience working with a diverse, multicultural population is preferred. This position is expected to last through the duration of the current school year; there is a possibility of the position transitioning into a regular, full-time position for the 2010-11 school year. Please submit cover letter and resume to......It is as though a light shone down on my laptop. The inhabitants of the coffee shop all began to move in slow motion and I believe there was choral music in the background which seemingly came from nowhere. Well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but this job description could probably not been written to better suit me. Oh fate you fickle mistress!
It is a position which is open immediately. Apparently someone left mid-year. That may sound strange to many who are only familiar with traditional schooling, but some of these kids can be tough! Especially when you don't know what you are getting into. I tend to have a fondness for those whom no one else wants. The snottier, most disrespectful, attitude ridden kids seem to make me smile. Whether that is a curse or gift, I do not know but it probably has something to do with the fact that I was one of the snotty, disrespectful, attitude ridden children. :) Middle-schoolers are my favorite; Jules tends to lean toward the older ones, preferably Juniors and Seniors.
Discussions began between Jules and I. He recognized the opportunity and was amazed the likeness of the job description to my talents. His first response was like mine: apply tomorrow. After really thinking about it, the decision was not that simple.
My main struggle occurs when I think about the teaching profession and recognize how few people there are like me who really want to work with "screwed up" kids. I don't want to work with "normal" kids. They bother me. However, I have my very own un-normal child right here at home which needs me as well. Our un-normal household needs me. My un-normal relationship needs me.
Let me just state upfront, I am not an anti-feminist. When Jules couldn't tell me who Susan B. Anthony was my look of shocked disdain warranted his instant apology. As a child my mother attended NOW (National Organization of Women) meetings and I was very conscious of the fact women have significantly more rights than previously. That being said, I knew we still had a long way to go to hit "equality." The fact I have lived in a time when a female had a decent shot at becoming a president still slightly amazes me. However, much of feminism lately does not seem to be aimed at "equality" as much as women leaving the house. To me this reeks of the idea that parenting, nurturing, and the entire process of household management is somehow a lowly or degrading profession; a burden of some sort. I don't really care if it is a man or a woman, but someone needs to take care of family. In our household it just made more sense at the time for that person to be me. (I will say, however, when I am at work Jules is one heck of a good dad.)
The current state of family in our nation is a bit disturbing to say the least. One of the reasons I so dearly love the "screwed up" children is that what I see in them is a lack of nurturing family. I don't think they are bad kids (most anyway, sometimes there is one that just isn't hardwired right), but they lack any semblance of the idea someone cares about them. In our rush to have women out being "equal" we have forgotten to fill the incredibly important role which women had - tending to house and family. Secondly, it aint easy people! Running a house is equivalent to running a business or managing an entire department. Whether you have one child or twelve, motherhood and household husbandry should never be looked down upon as beneath someone. I'll step down from my soapbox now and focus a bit more about our decision.
I don't know about many others out there, but I find my role as a housewife quite fulfilling and rather important to our ability to keep bills low, stay healthy, and enjoy each other. Sure, I could have a larger income, eat out more, and put our child in fabulous preschool but I don't quite understand how that is helping our household. It seems to me that entire mindset is about avoiding the household. No one would be here during the day as we would all be at work or childcare. We wouldn't be eating meals cooked in our kitchen, picked by our hands, around our table because we wouldn't have time or energy. We would go out to eat and to a gym to exercise. While exercising at the gym our yard would remain a disaster; Jules would be using one machine, I another, and the Barracuda in childcare at a third place. We wouldn't have time for each other because even while at home we would be working to maintain our outside jobs rather than maintaining our family.
There is the argument that come September, when the Spicy Barracuda goes to school, I could get said "Big Girl Job" since I am no longer needed to home school. While this does have merit, it once again causes a shift of priority from working within the household to support our family to working outside the household to support our family. Jules and I have both agreed that we like our lives much better the way they are currently.
This is a cultural shift that I did not find myself ready for. Being raised post-70's feminism the idea that the best way to help our household is to bring in money seems to be a knee-jerk response. When I step back and look at the idea, I now see how it screams "CAPITALISM! CONSUMERISM!" and the like. Rather than bringing in more money, why not help us spend less. Rather than paying top dollar for other people to educate and socialize our son, why not have me do it (after all, I am a trained educator). Rather than buy organic, why not grow it.
So, yes. When the Spicy Barracuda goes to school I will shift my work schedule to days and probably increase to working five days a week instead of four. But, I will do that being a prep cook. This way work stays at work. This way I can come home and focus on the most important part of my life, my family.
Perhaps some time, much later on, I might venture into the work world of those sophisticated "Big-Girl Jobs." However, that might also never happen and I will have a very fulfilling Big Girl Life instead.