Some people just about my age have almost 25 or so years of experience and expertise in their career. I’ve been made very aware of this in recent months in a few areas of my life.
Me? Not so much. I taught Music for seven years before I had children, and then made a conscious decision to stay home with our girls full-time, as both our mothers did for us. I have no regrets about that decision. Although my parenting is flawed in so many ways, I’m so glad we could afford for me to be here for them.
But now that my girls are hurtling towards the end of their school years, I do wonder about earning some serious money again. If for nothing else than to pay for Yr12 formals, post-school mission trips and perhaps in the future, a couple of weddings. And then there’s the mortgage, which is just not going away on our ‘one-and-a-bit’ income. And I wonder about my so-called career.
I have been earning money, and these days have a decent part-time income for the relatively few hours I put in. I’ve had piano students nearly every year since 1989, only taking a couple of years off when I had babies. I’ve taught recorder classes for Yr2-3 kids for nine years or so. I’ve run craft classes and sold Tupperware, (although they didn’t turn out to be as lucrative as I had hoped). I’ve led adult bible study groups for years. And I’ve learnt valuable skills as I undertook each of those endeavours.
My patchwork of part-time experiences doesn’t present so well on a resume these days, however. “17 years full-time childrearing” doesn’t count for much, even for teachers. Those 17 years have been life-changing for me, giving me confidence, wisdom and more knowledge of child development and discipline than can be found in any textbook. But when I’m searching for work, those years don’t compare with 17 years full-time teaching. And methods, ideals, objectives, syllabuses and technology have all changed since I last taught a high school music class back in 1997, I’ve missed a lot. In fact, the Dept of Ed won’t even let me apply for Music Teacher jobs, since I’ve been out of that position for over 5 years. (They will, however, let me teach any subject and any age group as a Casual Teacher, which doesn’t make sense to me at all.)
So, I wander in a middle land. Where I feel like a schoolteacher but am not one, where I wait for the phone to ring for a day’s teaching and mostly it just doesn’t ring. Unable to get more experience without more teaching, but unable to get teaching because I haven’t got the right experience.
I’m not sure where this is all headed. If I’m not going to teach in schools (more than just a random day here and there), I feel like I need some other direction from God. Or perhaps I will teach again, but not just yet. In the meantime, I probably need to give up dreams of having that great “career” where I’m a brilliant primary or music teacher, because there’s limited time on earth to do and be all things.
A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.(Job 14:5)
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, – what I get to do, where I’ve been at various stages, the people in my life, and the day-to-day events and responsibilities. I’m oh, so thankful that my husband has selflessly worked in his career to support us all these years. I like my mix of work and fellowship and home. But now and then my horizon opens a little and I wonder “What if ..?”
I can’t help remembering Kathleen Kelly’s words in You’ve Got Mail:
Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?
Perhaps I’ve been relying too much on The Great Casual Teaching Idea and not relying on God to lead me. God doesn’t need 25 years of career experience chalked up for me to be of use to Him, nor is He limited by my financial contributions to our family. He is the One who has set me on this journey, and I guess I need to keep my eyes on Him to guide me through the rest of it.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov 3:5)