Thursday, November 20, 2008


Here's what it really means, The Boy's treatment schedule:

It means that I will be leaving my job. Since the treatment is expected to take two years, that's how long I'll be out of work. I will try to apply for a "leave of absence" just so that I have the option, should I choose, to return to the district and still keep my tenure and my years of service. There is no guarantee that I can even get such a thing. The school board would have to approve it, and while it helps that two board members are parents of some of my favorite orchestra students, I'm not sure if a two year leave is even feasible. I'll find out soon enough

I guess when they advertise the position, it will be a leave replacement with the possibility of a permanent spot. It is a good time of year to find a new person, at least.

It is with a heavy heart, indeed, that I even speak about leaving my job. I love what I do, and I could not ask for a better place to work. Orchestra programs are somewhat rare to begin with, and mine has been consistently strong. Support for the arts is abundant (which I hope will continue even in the wake of ever-elusive test score improvement). We have a supervisor who fights for us, and my building principal has always been a champion of our programs as well.

I'm good at my job. The students really play, and they develop an appreciation for "art" music as well as the craft and technique of playing an instrument. I was pleased today that several students had, in their little heads, a piece that I had written for them. Are they perfect? Of course not. Do they practice enough? Of course not--as if anyone ever practices enough. Do they drive me crazy, frequently? Indeed they do. But the challenge of working with them and bringing out the best in them is what gets me out of bed at o' dark-thirty every single morning.

My identity is wrapped up in the fact that I am a musician and music teacher. Seeing as how I have not been able to make the time to practice my own instrument, either playing or singing, I haven't felt like much of a musician. Leaving my job, of course, makes me not much of a music teacher either. I'm sure that many moms who stay at home also struggle with identity issues, feeling the need to identify themselves as a person who formerly worked in a certain field, rather than "just" as a mom.

Remember, though, that Musical Daddy stayed home with the boy from the time that he was not quite a month old until the beginning of summer, also the time of his cancer diagnosis. But he only stayed home with The Boy while I worked, in my teaching job. In the afternoons and evenings, he had marching band, private lessons, or chorus. I would say that we were living on one-and-a-half incomes. And he loved being at home with The Boy.

I'm not really the type to enjoy staying home and spending a lot of time on domestic matters. Of course, I try to do my share of housework (when I notice it), and I put food on the table and in the lunchboxes. But...this is going to be a new challenge.

And becoming a permanent fixture in a playgroup is out of the question, because if any child in the group is remotely sick, we can't be there. The library is a possibility, but questionable as well. Grandpa has agreed to meet us a few times a week at the VERY upscale mall, which is halfway between his house and our house, for walks.

I'll find a way to make it work. It should be interesting. Maybe I'll find the time to exercise more. Practice more. Compose more. Publish some music, perhaps.

Let's not get carried away--The Boy does tend to keep one rather busy.


Elana Kahn said...

*sigh* I'm sad you're going to be leaving your job for a while. I know how much you enjoy teaching music--it's actually my dream job to be a choir director. I hope that this 2 year regimen does the trick and that The Boy goes into remission (and cancer never returns...)

nancy said...

You'll be fine. You know why? Because you love The Boy. And he needs you. It'll work. And your identity may change and morph a bit, but it'll remain for you to come back to.

mlgbears31 said...

Just remember that leaving your job is for the best reason possible: making sure your son gets healthy. You're young and will have plenty of time to teach when he is well again.

Sarah R said...

I completly support your decision, and it is what I would do in your shoes.

When I was looking at quitting my job to be a SAHM, I dealt with the same identity issues. I feel pretty respected in my job, and I have pride in what I do. That said, if anything ever happened to Andrew (such as a health crisis), that would have to take precedence over my job.

When it comes down to it, you have The Boy and your job. If you can think of it like that, it might make it a little easier.

Also, once The Boy is feeling better (which he will) you will find a job in a heartbeat!

Big hugs to you--I know how hard it must be and cannot say I would want to be making such a big decision.

Fluffy said...

I definitely had identity issues after becoming a stay-at-home-mom. I felt like a nobody in society for the longest time. It's hard giving up something you love and that you do so well at.

Good luck to you and your family over the next two years. Your music will be there for you when you're ready. Who knows what opportunities will come from this down the road?