Isn't it a little ironic that the moment I decided to stop waiting around to be pregnant and start pursuring a new career, I became pregnant? Or maybe it's just me?
What I'm talking about, of course, is the fact that I decided to throw my hat in the ring for this teaching fellows position -- where if you agree to teach in a low performing, poor school for a year, they give you the training you need to earn a teaching certificate in one year. I went after it whole heartedly and earnestly because I felt like I was really just sitting in quicksand as far as my life and my career were concerned. I was very excited about the prospect of becoming a teacher. I even found myself telling a co-worker, "if we never have children, I think I'll try to become a DODDS teacher and we'll move back to Italy or maybe Greece or Germany after Greg retires and he can work at the base golf course like he's always wanted."
I don't think I'd ever allowed myself to say those words before "if we never have children" and there I was, putting it at the beginning of a sentence that sounded, well, sort of hopeful for the future. After those words tumbled out of my mouth, I was a little dumbfounded. Was I beginning to be able to move past our infertility?
A little background: I went to school to be a journalist and did that job for a long time, but after we moved to Italy in 2005, I found myself working as a substitute teacher and I really enjoyed it and I assumed I'd be pregnant soon so I wasn't worried about my career. I was looking forward to being a stay at home mom. Of course, that didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped. After moving back to the states last year, I was hopeful that I could find work in my field or a related field like public relations. But this is a "who do you know?" kind of town and I don't know anyone. So, the prospect of a career change began to look better and better to me, especially when I found out that starting teacher pay here is about $40,000 a year. That might not sound like a lot to some people, but it's a lot to me. I never made more than $30,000 a year as a reporter and that was only for a short period of time before I got married.
So, I delved into studying for the PRAXIS exams and I went to an interview event dressed in my best and did a mock lesson on foreshadowing in front of a bunch of strangers and held my ground in a group discussion about teacher quality as it relates to student performance. In the one-on-one interview, I felt like I really connected with the principal and answered all the questions to the best of my ability and lo and behold on Friday, they offered me a chance to become a Louisiana Teaching Fellow.
So here I am on Monday morning, still unsure of what to do. I feel like it would be a great opportunity for me to make a career change and this is the most direct and cheapest way for me to become a teacher, though there are plenty of other programs out there at local colleges and universities. I also feel like I have the potential to be really good at this job. I'm sure that the challenges of working in a poor performing school would prepare me to be able to teach anywhere and I'd probably learn a lot about myself in the process.
But at the same time, I know the work would be intense, stressful, demanding and all-consuming. And that scares me. After all we've been through to achieve a pregnancy, I'm not willing to intenionally put myself in such a high-pressure situation. Plus, part of the program requires the teachers to do a certain amount of hours in the classroom in order to qualify for the teaching certificate at the end of the year. If I go out on maternity leave, would I still qualify? This is a question I really don't have the answer to.
Greg encouraged me to call the fellowhip program and find out, but I felt like I had already made my choice -- that I would decline the offer based on the fact that I'm pregnant. But I woke up this morning (today is my deadline to decide) feeling like I might be making the wrong choice.
I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, at least until my child starts school. My husband's job provides well for us right now. But I have lots of worries about the cost of raising a child and I think about how that teacher salary would sure help us pay off our debts and buy a lot of cute little baby stuff and maybe help us start saving for our next home.
If I don't take the job, would they ever consider me for the program in the future? I have no idea. And, then, there's always that little voice inside that says, "what if you lose the pregnancy and you've turned down the fellowship?" But I have to err on the side of caution, the side of hope, right?
I guess this just goes to show that a lot of things are certainly out of our control. Who would have guessed that I'd be sitting here today trying to make this decision?