I have been dancing since I was three years old. I have had around a hundred curtain calls in my life. But, this one will be the hardest.
I broke the news to my faculty last week that I will not be returning next year. After eight years of teaching dance in public elementary schools, it is time for a change. Next year, I plan to spend every possible moment with our baby. I want to cherish every second with this precious child God will entrust to us. And, everybody says it goes SO fast!
Andy and I have talked about this for years. When he was struggling through teaching high school, we used to joke that he would be a stay at home dad. At that time, I couldn’t imagine leaving my job. I loved it! Over the past several years, God has changed our situation and our hearts. Andy now loves his job. And, while I still love mine too, I love the idea of being with my baby more.
I have been in an ideal teaching situation for the past five years. Many dance teachers have to travel between multiple schools or teach in less than satisfactory facilities. I have my own dance studio at one school with a sprung floor. I work with an AMAZING staff who will do whatever it takes to help children learn. On top of that, I absolutely LOVE and adore my students. All of them. Every last one of them. Thinking of leaving them hurts me. Over the years, I have proven to them that I love them no matter what, so they love me too. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a troubled and distant kid start to respond to you and even go out of his/her way to please you. It’s even better when that positive attitude starts to spread to other areas and relationships in his/her life. We all respond to love. 1 John 4:19. I want to love my child like that.
Since the beginning of this school year, we’ve been talking about whether or not I should sign another contract for next year. The only thing that ever gave us a moment’s hesitation was fear; fear of change. While I wrestled with certain aspects of not teaching next year, there was never really a doubt in my mind what I would do.
When I told my principal that I wouldn’t be back next year, she said the most wonderful thing. “If all parents invested in their children as much and you and Andy will invest in yours, our job would be easy. You are going to be wonderful parents.” Her words, and the encouraging words of so many others who stayed home with their young children, confirmed that our decision was right for us. They said things like, “This is the best decision you will ever make. You will never regret it.” Besides that, it’s a good year for me to leave and a new dance teacher to come in because half of our students are being rezoned to a new elementary school next year and our school is getting a new principal. This will make it much easier for a new teacher. Hopefully she won’t hear things like “The other dance teacher did it like this…” and she will be free to create her own program.
Will it be hard? Yes, of course. I will miss seeing the kids and staff everyday, and I will need to find some way to supplement our income. But, it would also be hard to keep doing what I’m doing and try to be a mom. The thought of that kills me! I already get up at 5 am and don’t go to bed until at least 11 pm. Trying to get ready for school, take care of a baby, drop him/her off at daycare, exhausting myself physically and emotionally through teaching, getting home at 5ish with nothing left to give, dealing with dinner and dishes, putting the baby down, doing whatever work I need to for school or life and then dying at the end of the night does not sound appealing or healthy to me AT ALL! At the end of the day, I would feel like someone else is raising my kid and I only got to spend a couple of hours with him/her, all while trying to tend to other family business, exhausted! I know that the benefits of being with my child will far outweigh the challenges.
Something about a simpler life appeals to us so much. For those of you who don’t know, Andy is the cook at our house. He is forever cleaning or fixing something (reminds me of my dad). He does so much around here. I have certain things that I take care of at home, but I always feel like he does more than me. I am definitely spoiled! I look forward to being able to help Andy more around the house. If he didn’t have to do so much after he gets off work each day, he would have much less stress and be able to spend more time with me and our kids. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but we’re willing to work at it.
Andy and I are no strangers to cutting corners. Granted, it’s been a while and God has blessed us, our first year of marriage I was a first year teacher and Andy was in graduate school. In case you’re into math, you’ll find there was not a lot left at the end of the month. I didn’t buy myself a single article of clothing for the first two years of our marriage. We wouldn’t even buy gum because that was something we didn’t NEED. But, God provided in amazing ways, and we grew as a result of that time. We may be going back to our days of Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches, but we feel it will be worth it, and we know that God is our ultimate provider.
We’ve looked at the numbers, and if I worked, the majority of my paycheck would go to daycare. In that case, I’m not only missing time with my child(ren) while someone else is influencing them, I’m also not saving enough money to make a difference in our quality of life. I don’t want to work just to pay the daycare bills! It might be different if we had family close by, but his family lives in FL and mine is in GA. We can’t really just take the kids to grandmas whenever we want. So, if other family can’t be with them, we would like one of us to be with them.
I feel like God has been preparing me for this for the past couple of years. In this area of the country, there aren’t many outlets for “older” dancers. To take classes, I have to drive to Charlotte and pay $10 per class as well as gas, not exactly feasible or worth it for only one class a week. Whatever your talent or trade, when you don’t have regular opportunities to practice it, you start to lose it. And, when you don’t take in, you have nothing to give out. It’s hard to stay current and relevant and insecurity builds.
While I have loved my job, the farther I get away from college, where I was able to take several classes a day from people in “the know”, the more I see dance evolve and leave me behind. Strangely, I feel OK about it. Even though I’ve been doing it since I was three, I don’t feel a great loss. Dance has served me well throughout my life. It has given me confidence and a very satisfying career. But, change is inevitable, and I’m not fighting it. In fact, I’m excited about it and look forward to my next career as mommy. :)
I’m not ready to say this is my final curtain call. But, on June 6th, I will be bowing out, at least for a while.