The title is a throwback to a post I wrote back in March of 2013, called "Next year will not be a good year to...." In that post I mused about how uncertainty about parenthood and possible future fertility treatments led me to not pursue a job change or other significant professional activities. By that point in our journey I had done some research, including reading many infertility blogs, and I had at least a theoretical understanding of the emotional and physical toll of infertility and sub-fertility. So I made my choice: I would stay in the same school, with the same job, at least until something in my life situation changed.
I think I made the right decision. Of course there is no way to peer into an alternate universe and see how things might have turned out if I had felt or done differently. But I do know that I couldn't have asked for more supportive colleagues. They said and did all the right things when I undergoing testing and then finally proceeding with our IVF cycle, which was ultimately cancelled. Most importantly of all though, they helped me through the soul-crushing anxiety of the first weeks of the pregnancy that followed. Everyone worked extra hard to keep our program running smoothly when I was going for test after test, or at home distraught and sick. They offered deep, real compassion when I expected the worst and shared the joy when things turned out well. There will always be a special place in my heart for the people who helped us through that time.
Now to the present. The teaching staff in my program has been reduced from two to one, and because I am the less senior of the two teachers, I have been surplussed (basically that means laid off, though I retain my contract status with the school board and have certain rights because of that).
My feelings are mixed. On one hand, I accept the situation without bitterness or regret and I'm actually almost grateful. The first thing I did after signing the surplus papers was go into my email account and gleefully delete any remaining emails from work. Truth: I've been emotionally and professionally ready to move on since I wrote that March 2013 entry, at least. I feel like my job was a project, a worthwhile one and now it is finished. I stayed on for the reasons I discussed, and because I felt the work was meaningful, but also in part because it was comfortable to have the same job year after year. Even after AJ was born I couldn't quite bring myself to contemplate leaving my job. I thought that meant I was very passionate about my work and also afraid of unemployment, but part of it was habit and perhaps not wanting to think very deeply about the matter.
There are always fears in facing the unknown, too. I have had many very positive teaching experiences in the past ten years, and have faced many challenges successfully. I've also had some pretty negative experiences, especially when I was just starting out. I have felt anxious, overwhelmed, and inadequate. My tendency to perfectionism and self-doubt can leave me almost paralyzed under a heavy workload. When it's going well, teaching is a wonderful calling. When it's not, it can be existential torture. I know I've developed skills and resiliency but I also know that even in the years since I started teaching all work in education has become more complex and demanding. It seems like we are always expected to do a little more with a little less. I think I will be fine but I know what it feels like to be not fine.
And of course now AJ is part of our lives, and yay for that! I think my biggest fear at the moment: Taking on a job that that causes a great deal of stress and takes away time from family. When I start to look at everything in a negative light I think that is mainly why. Now that I know I won't be returning to the same position, I'm second-guessing my decision to go back to work when AJ is just 10 months old. (Mr. Turtle will take the last 5 weeks of parental leave if I'm back to work.) I wonder why didn't I apply to have my leave extended instead? I was trying to make the transition easier for my program, but of course that no longer applies. And as far as I understand I can no longer extend my leave or apply for another one (although I should clarify that).
I am now a "must place" under my contract. Human resources will place me in a job they think most suitable. It will be full time because that was what my previous job was, and with the same grade levels. If I want a different job from the placement, or to switch to part-time status, I can apply to open postings afterwards. But the fearful voice says: what if there aren't any appropriate ones or I don't get any offers? I could also apply for a job share, but what if there are no takers or it is not approved....et cetera... What if I'm stuck in something for 2 years that doesn't suit me professionally and/or takes away from family time? Obviously the option also exists to terminate my contract with 30 days notice, which would not be the end of the world; I'm sure I could still apply to substitute teach or something. But I wonder if there were better options that I didn't investigate properly.
Anyway, as you can tell this is speculation about things that haven't happened yet and my thoughts are all over the place. And I know there are probably people reading this thinking: you are in such a privileged position! I know I am....I guess in some ways that makes me feel even more pressure not to mess it up. I will just work through the process and try to keep my priorities clear. It will also be good to re-do my resume which I haven't touched in too many years. And I will have to keep talking to Mr. Turtle because he is the voice of sanity and support.