At the moment, my husband and I are both unemployed. We’re living at my parents’ house while my husband searches for a job and I try to keep from losing my mind. It’s almost all Geordie does all day while I try to find ways to entertain myself that are somewhat productive (not always successful with that).

My mother used to work in the front office of the local middle school (the same school my brother and I attended in what is now feeling like a more and more distant past), and she still takes random subbing jobs there sometimes when they need her. Last Thursday, she subbed, and when she came back home, she told us about a long-term subbing opportunity. One of the Language Arts teachers is taking a leave of eight weeks, possibly starting at the end of this month. That’s what she’s aiming for, but that all depends on when her baby comes. See, she’s taking maternity leave. The baby (a girl) is due at the end of the month, so she plans to start her leave when the baby comes.

Honestly, one of the first thoughts that came into my head after hearing that was, I hope her baby lives. The second was, I wonder if this is her first pregnancy. It kind of startled me that those were my initial reactions. I’m not sure if such thoughts have ever crossed my mind in regards to a pregnancy before I lost Lauren. It’s an unusual worldview I’ve developed these past four months.

Anyway. Long-term subs aren’t easy to find. But, for me, it’s better than taking day-to-day sub positions. For one thing, the money is (slightly) better. It’s more stable, and there’s time for me to sit in on the teacher’s class and see how the kids behave and what she’s doing. It’s a chance for me to do actual teaching instead of just busy work for the day. And even though I’ll be there eight weeks, it’s still a sub position, so I wouldn’t have to attend all those terrible staff meetings I hated when I was a public school teacher.

That’s right. Before I moved to Japan, I considered working as a teacher. That lasted about four months. I started out at a middle school – the same school my best friend worked at, she being the one who helped me get the job – teaching English and Creative Writing. After six weeks, they cut my position. I should have walked away from the situation then and there, but instead, I accepted the district’s offer of teaching freshman English at a nearby high school. Worst decision I have ever made. That’s partly my fault because I didn’t research the school on my own; I just believed the spin everyone gave me about it. If I’d found some unbiased sources, I would’ve learned that the school had a graduation rate of 48% (meaning about half of the students did not graduate, ever) and a “D grade” on the Florida Grading Scale.

It was an experience that nearly put me off teaching altogether. I taught 14-16 year olds (all freshmen) who I just couldn’t connect with, simply because their lives were so far removed from mine. I had 14-year old girls who were seven months pregnant. I had girls who turned tricks to pay for their brand-name clothes. I had boys who came to class high on any number of drugs, who sold them at school. Not a week went by that a major battle didn’t break out in the halls. I had to break up two fights in my own classroom. After about ten weeks, I quit. I was doing my best, but it was killing me. I lost weight because I was so depressed I wasn’t eating. I would wake up crying because I didn’t want to go to work. I would come home crying because I knew I would have to go back. I hated it.

The real trouble was that I liked teaching. I still do. What teaching in Japan taught me was that I’m also fairly good at it. I just got a bad school, where the focus was more on improving grades than improving students’ attitudes and outlooks. The principal was less concerned about the lack of discipline in the school than she was about the school’s grade on the scale. She had a “all students go to college” mentality, while all the time, my students proclaimed that they had “come from the ghetto,” so they were “stuck in the ghetto.” I fought a losing battle, one that I felt I had no allies in. Even then, I realized that I hate the administration more than dealing with the kids. As adults, we were failing them. I’m ashamed that I walked away from them, but I had no other choice. I was losing my mind.

I never plan to go back to teaching at a public school long-term. But I am considering this long-term sub position. Considering so much, in fact, that I’ve applied for it. I’d be very much surprised if it wasn’t offered to me, but if that happens, I won’t complain either.Ā  I think it’s a good opportunity for me: a chance to get out of the house on a daily basis doing something I like, only on a short-term basis. I’m sure if I’m ready to go back to work, if I’m even ready to spend much time out and away from the house. In public. It makes me feel vulnerable.

But that’s something I need to accept. I hurt still, but I’m going to have to carry on with my life, even if I have to do it without Lauren. This will be a good test-run for me, a toe-dip back into the waters of life. And I know for certain that this school is not as bad as the one I worked at some 4 years ago. I’m not exactly excited about the prospect of going back to work, but I’m willing to do it. It will make me feel less like a lump and more like a productive human being.

That is, if I get the job. I’m almost hoping I do.

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