The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.
W.E.B. Du Bois
While a teenager, the neighbors across the street hired me to babysit their four boys. Four hours of sheer hell preceded two hours spent getting them to stay in their beds. Pay? A measly 50¢ an hour.
In the next few years, I had other babysitting jobs. Never liked the work. Perhaps all the hours I spent taking care of my own brothers tainted me, but for whatever reason, babysitting was not my thing.
Move forward to today. Guess what I’m doing now? Babysitting. And in today’s dollars, probably for about the same amount of money. In the last few weeks I’ve been an English, World Geography, World History and French teacher. I’ve directed a band and supervised (combat) Handball. I’ve engaged my experience as a mom to use hand signals to get a child back into a seat or to stand in the middle of a crowd with my arms held slightly in the air, gathering attention without raising my voice.
Yup, I’m back in the saddle of substitute teaching. Back on easily, like riding a bike, only not anywhere near as much fun. Thirty years ago in Michigan I did the same thing only that state required an active teaching certificate. Way back then, I looked like I was ten. I rarely had trouble with discipline, however, I now have the ability to look at a trouble-making kid and deliver the “Don’t Mess With Me, Man. I’m the Mother of Three Boys” look.
I’d like to say that my pursuit of midlife job hunting has taken me to new heights. That things I’ve learned over the past 35 years since I graduated from high school have afforded me a plethora of qualifications for many different jobs. Perhaps it has, but so far I haven’t been able to channel that into an actual position.
Last spring, I sat in a virtual prison scoring high school exit level essays – 200 a day. The requirements for that job? A Bachelor’s degree and a pulse. Substitute teaching in my current state requires less than that. A high school degree and this year they’ve added a prerequisite of 60 hours of college. I seem to be going backwards.
The pay? Well, lets just say, I depend on my husband for food, clothing, and shelter.
But I've not done all my homework. Have I spent more than 60 minutes on my resume trying to add up all I’ve accomplished and participated in the past 22 years since my last full-time employment? Not completely.
Is there a reason for that? Yes.
I still have a child home this year that I feel deeply committed to finish raising. I have no desire to lose him in his senior year or miss out on participating in his life. Not as a hovering helicopter mom – he is most independent – but in the small part of his life that is left with me before he embarks on his own.
Now that my defense is established, I can pursue my true passion for a while longer - reading and writing. Gathering my abilities and methods to generate them into a paying position – next year. Meanwhile, I’m in the classroom, working a job where the teachers I sub for don’t seem to have much expectation from me (perhaps due to the meager requirements for the job). For me, I'm in another job I'm good at, but don't enjoy.
I understand the versatility required in this position – walking into a room and with a few moments notice keep 36 kids working and producing something worthwhile for the class length. I need to become more familiar with the teachers so they’ll know to give me something to teach as I do have something to offer more than babysitting. At least I hope so.