Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A series of unaswered questions

So, I don't suppose anyone would be any too surprised that at nearly 27 years old I still don't have a bloody clue what I'm doing in life. Three months ago I had a full-time career, husband, house, and baby on the way. That looks stable, right? Then again, this is me we're talking about - me, the fearless and unyielding questioner of all things. I just can't leave well enough alone.

I don't know if I will be offered my job for the fall or not. I almost hope not. If the job isn't available, there's no decision to make. If they do call me, I don't know if I will go. We can't afford for me to stay home. We can't afford daycare. Either way, finances are in complete shambles. The question is if I want to parent my own child or let someone else do it so that I can be about my business. From that angle, it's a pretty obvious decision - or is it? The wealthy have been passing their children off on others, typically less prosperous and less educated others, since the dawn of civilization, and the majority of those kids turn out just fine. I'm sure this was somewhat a matter of convenience, but I think also the fact remains that these people often had things to do sans les enfants. Daycare is not a new concept. So, I justify this to myself. Then, I tilt my head a little and end up asking this:

Do I spend my most productive years raising my child and giving him the very best of me and let the rest be wasted on things like wiping noses and singing ABC's, or do I spend it nurturing hundreds of kids by day and playing catch up with my son in whatever groggy, frustrated minutes I have when I get home? What's my most important responsibility -to give 100% to my own child, or to do the greatest good I can in the world? What are my talents and skills worth? What is "fair" or "reasonable?"

Of course, it can't just end there. I still want to know if this job is what I really should be doing with myself. I love helping kids, and I'm certain that my place in life is with the disenfranchised and unwanted. The thing is, it's really killing me a little at a time. I'm so task-oriented that until this week I didn't even realize that I stopped dreaming altogether. I'm not creative. I don't have energy for it. I don't have time. There are too many pressing tasks, too many social questions, too many needy hands held out, and someone is CONSTANTLY in my face. That was one of the greatest surprises to me about teaching; I really don't have 3 seconds to think of anything because the line of questions and stories and and and and .... I'm not kidding when I say that my life has become nothing more than a series of problems to solve. I have a perfectly good analytical brain, but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable being nothing more than that.

So I ask myself if I want to go back to school and become a professor. Then I can engage with students on a higher level of thinking and maybe even do some thinking myself. It sounds pretty good to me - until I remember that I don't read books anymore. I don't write stories. Even when I have time, that stuff is work. It's hard work, and it's frustrating. Maybe I don't do it because I need deadlines to be productive. Maybe it's because I can't stand working in isolation. Maybe I only want to go back to college to recover the careless parts of me, or the safety. If I screw up at school, 150 children pay for my mistakes. My life is different now, and there really isn't any going back. I'm afraid of making mistakes. I'm afraid that I'll get a PhD and won't be able to find gainful employment. What if I hate it? I'm afraid that I'll get a PhD, and then all I'll want to do is go back to the classroom with quirky teenagers who don't have a clue.What if I've deteriorated to the point that no one will have me? I'm not as dedicated as I used to be. What if I don't want it enough? What about my son?

Luckily, I have a wonderful and supportive husband who wants me to do what's best for me. Now, if I only knew what that was. I have no answers to these questions. I don't even know how to approach them. I suppose I'd better figure it out in something of a hurry, however, as time isn't standing still.