Today was my last day as the educator of small children. After twenty years (twenty-three if you count the years I volunteered), I have decided to retire from caring for children as a profession.
If someone had told my 22-year-old self that I would be making this statement at 56, I would have laughed in their face. Me, educating children? I didn’t even like children, let alone want to teach them! I had just graduated from college with a degree in marketing. I wanted to be a Fashion Buyer. It was all about the clothes for me. (Some would say it still is!) Problem was, there wasn’t much available in Fashion Buying in Fort Wayne. Or Indiana, for that matter. I somehow ended as a dispatcher at North American Van Lines. Talk about the worse job ever. HATED it! When Kevin asked me to move to Hickory, I was more than happy to kick that job to the curb.
When we arrived in Hickory, I needed to get a job, but I had no idea where to look. There was no internet in 1985. You basically mailed out your resume (professionally printed on stationary) to companies and hoped to hear back. I went to am employment agency and actually paid them to land me a job as a Customer Service Representative at a local furniture supply company. I was making a whopping $11,000 a year (not a lot of money even in 1985 dollars.) Thing is, I loved that job. I ended up becoming a purchasing agent and made life long friends. You see, it’s not always what God puts in your life, it is WHO God puts in your life. As excited as we were to move back to Indiana, it was hard to leave our friends that we had made through both my work and Kevin’s.
When we moved to Indy, once again I had to look for a job. I found one as a purchasing agent and absolutely hated it. I lasted about a year, and then quit. I found another job shortly after and this one was a real career- leading purchasing job. Thing is, my heart just wasn’t in it. It was still just a job to me. Then something strange happened. I turned 29 and my maternal instinct kicked in full force! The woman who never thought she wanted children could think of nothing else!!! Everywhere I looked, there were pregnant women!! Kevin took some convincing, but he finally agreed to have a child. Getting pregnant was easy, staying pregnant, not so much. I ended up on three months of bed rest. After our beautiful daughter was born, I went through the motions of going back to work. Found child care and everything. The weekend before I was to go back to work, I broke down and told Kevin I just couldn’t do it. I was a mom and that is what I wanted to be!! Kevin acquiesced, and I stayed home for five glorious years!!
Then came the time for our daughter to go to Kindergarten. I knew that I didn’t want to hang around the house by myself, but I didn’t want to go back to work full-time either. That is when the idea of teaching preschool happened. I loved children now! It would be great!! And it was. I taught Preschool and Mother’s Day Out for seven years. Then I got restless. Working with young children made me realize the importance of early intervention for developmental delays. I was fascinated and decided to leave teaching preschool and work for Indiana’s Early Intervention program. I also started working on my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. I was going to change the world! Then THAT THING happened. That thing was depression (another whole blog or two) and I realized that working from home all day wasn’t for me. I needed to be with people. I took a job working as an Instructional Assistant at a neighboring school district. I was working with Special Education children. It was chaotic, messy and rewarding. I loved that job (most of the time) and thought I would have it forever. But, life happened as it does, and my beloved father died. I took it hard, really hard. He died the beginning of July and school started the beginning of August. I tried to go back, but my heart just needed time to heal. I asked for a leave of absence, but they said no. So, I quit. I quit and I took the time I needed to grieve.
I spent the next two years doing my own things. We got a Goldendoodle and trained him to be a Therapy dog. I learned how to knit and started a small knitting business. I still managed to work with children by substitute teaching at a preschool a friend taught at. Finally, I was ready to go back to work. I got a job as an Instructional Assistant in another school district. I worked there for two years and had a wonderful experience. My therapy dog came with me once a week to read with special needs children and it was so rewarding. Then, another twist in the road! A friend was offered a new position at a different preschool and asked me if I wanted to be her assistant two days a week. At first I said no, but as I thought of it more, I decided that I was ready to go back to teaching little minds. I contacted my old preschool that I had worked at years ago, and picked up a day there working in my favorite room, the babies. Life was good.
That was three years ago. Now that we are moving to Oceanside, I have decided to move on from working with children. I have no map to where I am going, I just feel that my time as an educator is done. I just said good-bye today to women who have been a part of my life for over 20 years. I won’t see most of them again except on Facebook, but they will always be angels in my heart. I have been blessed with this unexpected career of mine and best thing is that my legacy will live on. You see, my daughter is a teacher! She was born to be a teacher and she is making a difference in the lives of children everyday. Not having a map for my career was the best thing that could have happened. I don’t know where I am going next with this crazy life, but I have faith it will be exciting!!!