You may know a little about my career background from reading a previous blog post of mine, The Circumstantial Career Gap. Although I quit paid work over ten years ago now, this has been the first year I have had the opportunity to feel like I am spinning my wheels but going nowhere.
When I quit to stay home we had an active young toddler and then, within about a year, we added twins to our brood. I never had time in those days, especially when the twins were babies or toddlers, to feel idle. On the contrary, I almost always wished I had more than my two hands or that I could clone myself.
Even when the twins began pre-school, I was by no means in danger of catching my breath. The pre-school program my kids were in met for only three hours three days a week. During those three hours, I always had a list of things I wanted to get done and, without fail, some of those list items would inevitably carry over to the next day’s list.
My ultimate plan had always been to go back to school to finish my degree once all of our kids had started full-time school. As sure as the sands of time are never to slow down, that milestone came in September of 2017 when the twins proudly started Kindergarten. I paused only long enough to be sure that they were both adjusting well, then I hot-footed to the admissions department at a local highly reputable university to enroll full-time. I’m grateful that I live in an area with several of these options, where being a commuting college student with a full plate of other responsibilities is completely within reach.
You know, I digress for one minute to say that I actually do remember feeling a bit like I was spinning my wheels in place during those few months, as I waited for January and the start of my new fast-paced duality to begin. But it was a different kind of energy then; both loads of potential energy, then and now, like the difference between being a rock fully loaded into a catapult, waiting to be let loose and a pitched baseball with no one at bat. I am just spinning through the air now waiting for someone to take a crack at me. And, although I’ve had several interviews and have been among final candidates on more than one occasion, that moment has not come yet.
So, although I quit my job in 2011 to be a stay-at-home parent, I’m only just now, in 2021, feeling like I don’t have a job.
I have been wondering what I can do to rectify that situation. I know that my most notable problem is my career gap. As nuanced as it is, it is still a ten-year career gap. I know this because I have had interviewers express concern over the fact. Even my previous employer has gone through two selling and rebranding iterations since I last worked for the organization. I know that the bottom line of this thought process is that I have to stop the gap cycle.
One of my closest friends spent a few years as a substitute teacher in the district both her and my children attend before ultimately going on to a successful career as a therapist. I have volunteered in my kids’ classrooms many times over the years and knew well how overwhelming all those little eyes staring back at you can be. I admired what she was doing and I have so much admiration and respect for her as an intellectual but I definitely thought, “better her than me!” because a class full of kids can be very intimidating.
I laugh now to think of me then. I am much more capable of connecting with kids now than I was. I think that has just come with the territory of experiencing the different ages and phases of my own children. Those little humans have overwhelmed me at times too but they have also been amazing at making me laugh and opening my eyes to different perspectives and teaching me patience. So, although I was at once the unlikeliest substitute teacher, I have morphed into a pretty good listener and have guided a young mind or two or three through some pretty tough homework nights.
A line from Robots with Robin Williams, once my oldest child’s favorite movie, comes back to me now, “See a need, fill a need!”
I know that our school systems are hurting for substitute teachers right now to help meet the needs of our children and their classroom teachers. And it just so happens that I am in need of some more legitimate job experience. I think it is fortuitous for me that these two events should come together now when I would be a much more capable, even if still unlikely, substitute teacher. So that is what I am going to do!
I think I’m going to take you along for the ride too by continuing to keep you updated on how it goes. Keep an eye out for more posts on The Unlikely Substitute.
Remember to always make a conscientious effort.