She laid out the paths. On one side, I continued teaching preschool and writing as a side job at night. On the other, I gave up my day job and wrote full time.
The writing path showed me as the Queen of Everything. The Queen of Cups, The Queen of Swords, The Queen of Wands, The World.
The other path, the one where I keep trying to cram the writing into the margins of my life as a full-time mom and preschool teacher, began with Death and ended with the Tower, with me depicted as the Hanged Man and the Devil in between. It was like the Tarot reading equivalent of police caution tape: DO NOT ENTER
I’m not a slave to omens, but in this case all signs point to this one not being wrong. My cute little writing hobby has mushroomed into a career that soaks up pretty much all my waking moments. So.
I gave notice this week at my “day job”. At the end of the school year, I’ll be closing down my home-based preschool and writing full time.
Many of you probably didn’t even know I had a day job. I don’t write about it much here because it involves other people’s kids, and I’m pretty sure that when they signed on to have me teach preschool to their children, they didn’t also sign on to have their kids foibles and tender moments posted to the Internets. My own kids just have to live with have a memoirist for a mommy, but I actually am capable of respecting other people’s boundaries and privacy. Or at least trying to.
So anyway, I have this day job. I run a Waldorf-style preschool out of my house three-four mornings a week for about half a dozen kids. I’ve done it in various forms for the past two years. It began as what I hoped would be a starting point to creating a nature-based unschool in my community for homeschooling and unschooling families. Then my older daughter jumped ship and decided to go to kindergarten (or, “divorced the preschool” as she likes to say), and it become more solidly a preschool group. I’m licensed by the state and everything.
Quitting is actually incredibly bittersweet. I love the kids I work with; they’re like an extension of my own family in some ways. I love the work I do: for two years it’s been my job to make huge messes, play outside, and explore the world with fresh eyes every day.
It’s also been my job to clean up those messes, soothe hurt feelings when play doesn’t feel fair, and mend broken toys, clothes and hearts. I’m good at these things, but doing them for so many children has proven hard on my home and family. Since I had Lyme disease last summer, and did not fully recover through the antibiotic treatments, it’s also been a lot harder on my body than anyone could have anticipated.
These are problems I’d be happy to solve, and they’re eminently solvable. But. But. But there’s this writing thing I do.
A little over a year ago, while the preschool was growing and I was looking forward to many years of homeschooling, a friend suggested I start a parenting blog. Your stories are so funny, she said.
She wasn’t the only one. I’d been writing about my life on a private Livejournal for years, and many people had told me that my stories about my kids were the highlight of their day. Maybe, I thought, I had something to say about raising children and being a mom that other people – people I didn’t even know – would want to hear.
So I started this blog. I was pretty embarrassed about it. Who am I to have a blog? What do I think is going to happen? Is anyone even going to read it? Everyone and their mom has a blog. I basically begged my Livejournal readers to come over here and pretend to care. They did, because they’re sweet like that.
I spent a few weeks tapping the mic nervously, thinking, “Is this thing on?”
ChildWild came to life. People read it. People I know, people I don’t know. Editors at magazines and websites I love, who started inviting me to write for them. After years of being a stay-at-home mom and resigning myself to just giving up on my journalism career, I started sending out query letters and submitting guest posts to other blogs.
And something happened. I sold a few pieces, and then a few more, and then picked up some staff writing jobs at websites. I got lucky? I turn out to be good at this? Something.
Something that lands me here, a year later, making more money freelancing than I ever have running my preschool. And working more hours at it than I can sustain while also caring for kids (my own and my students) for about 14 hours a day.
So, with some sadness and some joy, I’m letting go of the preschool.
I won’t miss the cleaning, or the planning, or the paperwork, or the home inspections. But I will miss the little ones terribly. I don’t know yet what Serena will do next year. Something fun, I’m sure. Me, I’ll be spending the mornings in my shiny new office, writing my heart out.