The Straw.

Cranky Blogger Warning:  I’m exhausted, y’all.  And sad.  That means this post is probably more emotion than it is logic.  I won’t apologize for that — it is a part of who I am — but it also means that I might just feel differently about all of this tomorrow.  

Hope you’ll understand.

Bill

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Simple Radical Truth:  Staying in the classroom full-time has ALWAYS been my only professional goal.  I love the #edtech and #atplc consulting work that I do, but the fact that I still work with kids all day, every day is what I’m proudest of.  More importantly, it’s what I enjoy the most.

But after the past few days, I’m not sure that I’ll be a full-time classroom teacher for long.

You see, my four-year old daughter — who I love more than life — went to her first gymnastics class on Tuesday and I missed it because I was working one of the three part time jobs that I work in order to make ends meet around our house.  Rumor has it that she LOVED the entire experience.  She walked on balance beams and jumped on trampolines and wore a harness as she flew and flipped her way around a local gym.

“I’ve never seen her so happy!” my wife said.

Neither have I.  

Things got worse when I got home.  “Do you think we could sign Reece up for gymnastics classes?” my wife asked.  “They’re $67 dollars a month.”  She knew my answer before I had the chance to speak.  We don’t have $67 extra dollars a month for gymnastics classes no matter how happy they would make my daughter — and finding another $67 dollars a month would mean spending even more of my nights and weekends away from home shaking the money tree.

Then my best friend called.  “Hey Bill: We’re going camping this weekend and thought you guys might want to come with us.  We’ll have a campfire and cook Smores with the kids.  Whaddya’ think?  We know Reece has been asking about going camping all summer.  It’ll be fun!”

Should be an easy answer, shouldn’t it?  Any GOOD dad would jump at the chance to take his daughter camping for the first time with friends and family on an early fall weekend, right?

Here’s the hitch:  I have a GOOD 20 hours of part time work that needs to get done this weekend.  Going camping will put me WAY behind.  Might even mean that I miss a deadline or two — or that I do a poor job at the 5 different workshops I’m delivering in the next three weeks.

Do you have any idea how broken I am right now?

I feel like a complete failure as a father.  I can’t afford the classes that my daughter wants to take and I can’t find the time to take her camping.  Instead, I’ll spend my weekend like I spend damn near every night of my life: Sitting in a McDonalds writing blog entries, preparing for presentations, and praying that I find potential contacts with contracts in a Hail Mary attempt to cobble together a semblance of a living.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m NOT looking for sympathy.  This isn’t meant to be a woe-is-me, the sky-is-falling-and-it’s-not-my-fault kind of post.

I know full well how lucky I am to have a solid full-time job doing something that I love.  That’s more than many people can say in the crappy economy that we’ve all lived through for the better part of a decade.  Heck, until the State of North Carolina goes broke, I even have a pension.  Just as importantly, I’m proud of what I do for a living because I know it matters.  I’ve made a difference — and that is worth more than most paychecks.

And for long while, I was more than willing to ignore the fact that I was making less than the majority of my friends and family members.  I didn’t need to go on vacations or drive new cars in order to be happy — and the 1,028 square foot house that I live in on the on a .08 acre lot that I own was more than enough for me.  I was even perfectly satisfied with the fact that my wife and I are still using the Sears press-board dresser that my mom and dad bought me when I was 12 to store our grown-up clothes in.

But a simple fact rumbled right into the middle of my life this week:  My decision to ignore opportunities to move into higher-paying positions beyond the classroom out of a noble commitment to teaching aren’t just hurting ME anymore.  They’re hurting my daughter and my wife — and I’m not sure I’m willing to let that happen for much longer.

#sheesh

___________________

Related Radical Reads:

Here’s How Being a Father is Changing Me as a Teacher

Saying Goodbye to Maria

A Profession that Doesn’t Give Back

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