Some people would say that I went back to work this year, but in a way, I took the year off. As my profile states, I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an artist, a teacher, a ranch-hand, etc. When I quit working outside the home - or when I quit making money, I became all the things anyone needed me to be. Through the years that has grown and changed, but I have always remained busy. I've often wondered how ever I taught full time and got everything done around the house and took care of two kids and a husband. But I was younger then - more energy - more focused. My point is that when you don't get up every morning and go to a job and get paid, people think you do nothing and have lots of time. So, they come up with things for you to do.
There was a time when Toby would leave the house and say something like, "Lou, get the trailer and load that old cow and take her to the vet..." or "Lou, clean up that old wood pile (the one with the spiders and mice)..." or "Lou, I need you to put anti-freeze in the bulldozer..." or "Lou, we need to get that field plowed..." And for some reason I did those things while homeschooling and doing general wife duties.
Then my kids graduated and I started teaching art classes out of my house as well as doing more art work for myself. You can't really call that work. Can you?
For several years, we were building on our house. I like to think of myself as a carpenter's helper - the person who is thinking ahead to have ready whatever the carpenter needs when he needs it. I'm good at that. I was also the contractor who went and bought building supplies. There are lots of blog stories of those years. I really liked swinging a hammer and being a construction worker. I rate that job right up there with teaching.
We finished the house pretty much, and we don't have any cows to tend or fields to plow, but then we had grandbabies. The more grandbabies, the more I was needed to help out. Then there was the tutoree for three years along with my usual art classes.
One of the biggest and most important jobs has been the care of elderly parents. When my dad had cancer, Mom needed lots of help. Because I did not have a job, I was able to spend lots of time caring for Dad. That lasted four years until Dad passed. Then the moms began needing help. That fell to me much of the time, because I had the time.
Back to my point: getting up every morning to teach art in public school was a big decision for me last fall. I talked a lot about sense of purpose, but teaching art in public school had always been something I wanted to do - something I wondered if I could do and do well. Those were some of my reasons to go back to teaching. Another reason to take on a real job was to get away from all the other "jobs" I had. Although I still taught some private art classes and still babysat the grandbabies and continued to care for the moms and still did the usual ranch-hand/wife duties, I could occasionally say, "Oh sorry, I can't do that for you. I teach now." That was nice.
Now the year is ending and people are asking me if I am going to teach again next year. I really hate making decisions. So far, my answer has been that I don't know what I am going to do. Any thoughts?