Lesson two: The story is always changing
At the start of this school year, August 2013, my daughter was just over a year old. The plan was to work this year and then take next year off to have another baby. We planned the timing of Bell really well (kind of accidentally, but we made it look purposeful!) so that she was born at the end of April in 2012. That means I was able to take my (measly!) 7 weeks of (unpaid!) maternity leave off at the end of the school year and roll right into summer. So, when I went back in August of 2012, she was 4 months old.
That was really tough. She was still so little and I still couldn’t wear clothes properly and had to sit in the department closet to pump a few times a day. I was exhausted and my mind and body were spent. Luckily, my husband and mother-in-law were able to work together to take care of Baby Bell, so we didn’t have to try to find (and pay for) a day care on top of everything else we were juggling.
But now, my mother-in-law does nearly full time day care with toddler Bell – some days, up to 9 hours, as my husband and I still need to be a two-income household. (We are so very lucky to have her and that our families here with all their love and support!) It just wouldn’t make sense to have another baby and expect Nanna to take on two kids full time, so we were working toward me staying home next year: I would get the quality time of hanging out with my young children before Bell starts pre-school for real and Nanna and Gigi (my mother-in-law and mother, respectively) could see the babes without considering it a full time job.
This year was to be my tenure year. It will be my 8th year in teaching, but because I like to move around a lot, I hadn’t stuck anywhere long enough to achieve tenure (4 years in one place). Now, here in Chapel Hill, I have become part of the school, part of a team, part of a community.
Tenure does not call to me because I am worried about job security – I feel confident in my professional position at the school and in the district, but what was calling my name was the fact that I would be able to take a year off without losing my job with the district. Who knows, maybe if it worked out, I would want to take 2 or 3 or 5 years off, or maybe we move to California, or Costa Rica or heck, just the NC coast. But still, I wanted that comfort of knowing that I could take some time to be Mama and not worry about having to find a job if I needed to go back.
However, this year, NC has taken tenure away. Now, I could go into the pros and cons of the tenure debate, but that is a post for another time. This, for me, now, hurts in a personal way. I no longer have a protected year to foster the growth of my family. There are other reasons that we are having to postpone this decision, but we had planned our family planning around the benefits of my job – and that rug was just pulled out from under us.
We have decided to wait another year and see what happens then. I am heartbroken that I have to put off having another baby (we just cannot afford to try to find day care for two pups, nor can we put that on the grandmas), so hopefully, in a year, things will shake out in a new way and we will find some new way for me to stay home.
So, the story changes. Best laid plans, right? I am trying my damndest to look at this as different, not bad. As opportunity, not disappointment. Who knows what glorious things may happen in the course of another year with my school? (Is my optimism convincing? 🙂 ) Who will I meet? What will I learn? And who will baby #2 be when he/she does finally come into our family?
Let’s see where this new story goes.