Saying Goodbye

For the last 12 years.

For the last 12 years: August marked the beginning and May the end. Summertime was the only time to take a real vacation. I lived for days where I could wake up and throw on a pair of jeans. I could spend all day at work working, just to bring home more work. Cafeteria smells were comforting and nostalgic, especially the week before Thanksgiving. You just knew to show up to work on STAAR days, sick or not.

For the last 12 years the hallways have felt like my home away from home.

In October, Juan and I started having conversations about what the future would look like for our family. I am the one who usually starts these conversations. He is always polite enough to engage. I suppose he thinks we’re just talking, but in my head I’m planning and thinking. I’m hoping and dreaming. I’m wondering out loud about a life that I want to have, but sometimes am too afraid to ask for.

What would it look like if I wasn’t a school counselor any more?

Do you think people who leave public education can find jobs elsewhere?

Is it dumb to have invested 12 years into this profession to just walk away?

How can I be more present in the lives of my littles but still do what I love?

Life since Spring Break has been anything but normal. The weight of my job felt a thousand times heavier having to do it from the confines of my small and loud home. Wearing all of the hats and being all of the things to all of the people at the same time in the same space was proving to be impossible. I’ve never felt more discouraged in my life.

But there has been a take-away that is hard for me to ignore: my family needs more of me.

Life following Jacob’s diagnosis has been rough. For a long time I thought I could still live the life that in my head I had planned to have and not allow the diagnosis to “win.” I wouldn’t allow it to rob me of what I had worked so hard to be: middle school counselor. But the reality is that as Jacob has gotten older, his needs have become greater. My husband has graciously carried a lot of this load on his own – never complaining, never questioning, never resentful. But it’s time for that to change.

Because of the nature of our situation with COVID-19, I’ve been more accessible to my littles, husband and college girl than I’ve ever had the opportunity to be. The thought of all of this changing come August was difficult for me to accept. So I announced this week that I would not be renewing my contract.

Sad. Excited. Anxious. Relieved.

It’s like page one of the book, How Not To Be An Adult. Quit job. Then decide what to do next.

I have no idea what the future holds for our family. This is honestly one big fat leap of faith. And part of me didn’t want to announce to my friends in social media land until I had the other parts figured out. But I choose honesty instead of perceived perfection. The truth is that I feel fairly confident that although I don’t know what’s next, I’ll have a pretty solid idea in September. A colleague confided that she wished she was as “strong” as I was to walk away. The work that those in public education endure can be heavy. I replied that I don’t really consider myself strong, but I recognize my ability to channel hope. Hope and hard work have been the center of my life story.

I just recently finished accruing my 3000 hours to become a licensed professional counselor. I’m just waiting for the paperwork to become official. The one-on-one time with people is the part of the job that made me feel most alive, so I want to keep that. I want to be able to take my kids to school and pick them up. I want to make more time for writing. I want more flexibility and a better work/life balance. I want to be able to show my kids that dreams are more than just thoughts in your head, with hard work and perseverance there’s an opportunity for us to create what we want for ourselves.

This could totally be the biggest mistake of my life. But what if it’s not?

Signed with Love, Kat.

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