Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for us after several years of trying new things career-wise for the scruffy-looking nerfherder, only to be faced again and again with the fact that we’re actually quite capable of making terrible decisions sometimes.
But serendipity smiled on us in the end and the SLNF started back at his old company today, the one he was with for many, many years before we decided to try new things. Obviously there was a reason he left in the first place, but he loves being a part of this company in general and he’s now with a different program at a different location (just a few miles from our house) doing a different job that’s essentially tailor-made for him, making use of his many and varied talents. He was so perfect for the position and they were so stoked to have him back, in fact, they even held the position open weeks longer than they were meant to so he could finish out the commitment he had made at his previous job.
And honestly, this is exactly the ego boost he needs right now because hot damn, has this last go been a rough ride.
When the second to the last job became extraordinarily unbearable (he spent three years traveling essentially every other work week for business, starting when our twins were 18 months old–and yes, it was exactly as much fun for all of us as it sounds), we, somewhat on a whim, decided he should leave the tech world and finally just go for what he had always considered his dream job–teaching high school social sciences.
I realize that may not be what you were expecting, but he really is that guy. Basically every single person responded to the news in the same way, which was some version of “YESSSS!” or “FINALLY!” or “You will be the BEST teacher EVER!” or “You were TOTALLY MEANT TO DO THIS!” His father retired recently after teaching for 30-someodd years, he spent many summers as a camp counselor for tweens and teens, he always enjoyed and excelled at the training part of his previous job, and he’s a super passionate history nerd, which, incidentally, was one of the first things that attracted me to him because I find that sexy as hell.
Anyway, it just so happened that our county, where there are currently a dearth of qualified teachers, had just started a program for getting candidates who met certain prerequisites into the classroom as interns, teaching full-time and getting paid (after a semester of training) while working toward their credential in the evenings for the subsequent two years. And it just so happened that he met those requirements, passed his state proficiency tests for his subject, and got accepted into the program for the very next semester of training.
It seemed a very auspicious beginning to finally seeing his lifelong dream come to fruition.
But in reality, auspices can basically just go eternally fuck themselves.
Now, we didn’t go into this completely blind. We knew full well that teachers get shit on in myriad ways in this severely misguided country, but that was nothing compared to experiencing it ourselves. The stress, the responsibility, the expectations, the workload, the drama. It was beyond beyond. And he was literally learning on the job while wrangling fucking teenagers. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love kids of all ages (I was a nanny for many, many years after all) but I really prefer my teens in ones and twos, not in groups or large herds. Too many hormones, too much attitude, too much (very developmentally appropriate but still utterly obnoxious) idiocy. I can’t hack it. But the SLNH? He LOVES that age group, bless his dear little soul. So being with his students he thoroughly enjoyed.
But, sadly, that was where the enjoyment basically began and ended because you know what all of that work and stress was not worth? The fucking paycheck he was getting. Holy fucking hell, people. We have it SOOOOOOOOO ass backward in this country putting our teachers so close to the bottom of the income ladder. It’s fucking UNCONSCIONABLE. And, like, we knew the pay would be total crap, but we were all, oh, but if we’re making that little, we’ll qualify for assistance for groceries and shit, right? I mean, we have paid off cars and no student loan debt and we already don’t spend money on things like vacations or cable or going out to eat (much), so, like, we can make this work, right?
WRONG. We ended up in that horrendously frustrating middle range of not making nearly enough to support our family, but also making like $200 a month too much to qualify for any assistance whatsoever. And this was exacerbated by where we live, where the cost of living is just fucking laughably, tragically high. To give you an idea, the price of a median home in our county reached a new record (again) last month, to the tune of just under $700k.
Add to all this the fact that the program was too new to have the right supports in place, as well as the complete and utter bullshit of education administration in general and it just wasn’t worth it. I mean, when your students are coming to you telling you they’ve learned more in your class than any other class they’ve ever been in, that, unlike most of their teachers, they feel like you actually care about them and want them to succeed, and those students’ parents are literally sending you notes and emails telling you how much their child adores and respects you and thanking you for all you’re doing for them–and yet, some administrator, who has most likely spent little to no time in an actual classroom, is telling you you’re doing it wrong because you’re talking to your students too much and the students should essentially be teaching each other, I just…
What the everliving FUCK, people?
And the painful truth of the matter is that, despite all this, it may very well have eventually worked out and been worth it if we had a second income, and, you know, I don’t feel great about that. Like, AT ALL. But that’s been my reality for quite a while now, compounded by varying legitimate factors but no less a reality, and it’s obviously something I’m working to change by attempting to monetize my writing.
But either way, we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that choosing to try and chase that dream as things stand in our lives right now just wasn’t realistic. And it was a hard, hard lesson for both of us, but especially for him.
So, considering that, you know what’s really fucking awesome? He’s fucking STOKED to be at his new/sort of old job! It’s something he knows, yet it’s still challenging; he gets to help train other employees and work with and educate people in general, which is really where he shines; he totally digs the environment and company philosophy and his coworkers; his “commute” is laughable, and when he comes home, work is left at work, encouraged and enforced by the company itself. And while the pay isn’t super fabulous to start, the position is designed to be a jumping off point for serious upward mobility, so the expectation on both sides is that this is just the beginning.
And, honestly, I just want my SLNH to be happy and feel useful and appreciated and be given the recognition and accolades he deserves because he’s fucking brilliant and talented and charming and compassionate and conscientious, and that’s all evidenced by the fact that the person he meets, even if briefly, who doesn’t absolutely adore him is very few and very far between.
So here’s to the next chapter!
Because when you know better, you do better.
And I am alllllllllllllll for us doing better right about now.