I was a teacher for six years in the same building, same room, teaching the same content to the same grade during that entire time. Yes, being an eighth grade reading teaching is awesome. Middle school teachers are pretty rad (although I feel like elementary teachers are superheroes in disguise and us middle school teachers want to stay kids forever. OK, digression over). Some might say that’s a decent amount of time to stick with something so specific. Veteran teachers might chuckle at “six years” as they approach retirement after being in the field for 25+ years. Either way, six years was long enough for me to feel like I had developed a major part of my identity. When we decided to start a family and I would transition to being a SAHM, I was definitely inundated with the questions: “How long will you take off work? When do you think you’ll go back? Do you think you’ll always teach? Are you nervous about this big of a change?” Uh, well, let’s see. I have no idea how long I will decide to stay home to care for our family, so I don’t know when I’ll get back to teaching, and I don’t know if I’ll always teach. Was I nervous? Nervous was to say the least!
I had read that most women go through some sort of identity crisis when they go from having a career to embracing the new career of being a SAHM. I don’t know about crisis, but there were lots of emotions. I wasn’t sending off flare SOS signals, but I definitely started evaluating who I really was as an individual. I gotta say, I felt like I started my “identity” worries when Mike and I were trying to get pregnant. We were due June 2nd, so I had a whole school year to say goodbye to my passion, at the time. Timing wise, our pregnancy worked out perfectly. I didn’t have to worry about missing a bunch of work. I was easily able to pack up my room and finish out all my units. Everything worked out pretty well. I remember my last day driving in to my job as a teacher. Talk about mixed emotions and lots of prayers. It’s not that I was regretting our decision. I was just worried about how it would all turn out. Would I enjoy this change? Would Mike? Would I be able to make the transition to a SAHM?
The cool thing about making a big decision such as starting a family and leaving your job, some folks, myself included, start to talk with God a lot about the process. I remember waking in the night worrying if Mike and I were ready. If it was time. I have come to embrace my night wakings. Sometimes I get the best ideas when I wake at 3:00 AM. Most times, I get the best revelations from God, whispering his peace to my heart. As I was lying in bed I was reminded of a verse God had been weaving into my heart. I was using this verse as a basis for some lessons with my youth group at the time.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
When people started asking me would I go back to teaching, or did I know how long I would be home, my simple answer was that I didn’t know. I didn’t know when I’d be back or if I’d go back to teaching. What’s awesome about being God’s masterpiece is that the painting isn’t ever finished until we meet him face to face. His masterpiece in me while teaching was an amazing experience. I will forever be a teacher at heart. And I have NO IDEA where or what I’ll be doing in five years or whobody knows when! What a liberating feeling to say that I trust God and know that whatever I’ll be doing down the road, it will be because I felt the Lord leading me in that direction and continue to pursue His peace in my life.
This past week I started cleaning out my closet, getting ready for spring. Trying on clothes to see what still fit. Getting rid of clothes I never ever wore or will wear. As I started going through the bright flower prints, the pastel stripes and soft cotton, I realized many of my clothes that were gaining dust, I wore as a teacher. These days I much prefer leggings , but I have always been a lover of loose khaki pants with a soft, pastel shirt and a good o’l cardigan. Enter the Gap. The Gap was my go-to store for any sort of teacher-wear. I hardly ever spent full price on anything there, but man when they have sales, they are great. I mean, why else would I have three pairs of tan khaki colored pants? I decided to keep about half of my clothes because I love them and see no reason to get rid of everything I used to wear, but I definitely did the “love it” vs “like it” test. Anything that wasn’t a “love” was packed up for Goodwill. If you’ve ever cleaned out your closet like this before, then you know that once it’s all nice and clean and organized, you get this sick feeling to go buy something new. OK, at least I do. The temperature outside was a loverly 70 degrees with sunshine and our downtown Gap was calling me. I loaded Asher up and we went for a stroll downtown and happened to stumble upon our Gap. We certainly don’t have the money for me to shop at the Gap like I used to since I stay home but I figured if I found a nice top that was on sale, I might buy it. Ha. Said the woman who walks out 10 bags later.
As I started perusing the fun flower prints and and must-have scarves to wear in the spring (whoever thought of scarves for the spring was an evil genius), I began to realize that those loose lovely khakis that I wore all the time, just didn’t quite have the appeal like they used to. Buying adorable peach colored flats became “meh.” I was taken back and reminded of being God’s masterpiece. While I still love the Gap, it is just not my go-to store anymore. I get more of a kick going to the Aldi store and finding a good deal on fruit than a good deal on a flowered skirt.
I have found that quite a few moms who go through a similar transition are embarrassed to say so. Embarrassed to say their identities have changed. As if they lost part of themselves instead of gaining a new part of themselves. We get so focused on what we do as a means of who we are that we forget we are His masterpiece. Constantly changing and evolving.
We get so focused on what we do as a means of who we are that we forget we are His masterpiece.
I don’t know if I’ll be teaching again in a few years or if I’ll be taking pilot lessons or planning to sky dive (OK, that probably won’t happen) but I have found comfort in knowing that no matter what I do, I am a child of God. I am His masterpiece. I am His. And if that means I care less about shopping for clothes, then I guess I just might start wearing khakis around the house more often. I mean, the leggings have got to get a break at some point, right?