Huh?  What?  It’s Monday?  (Leaps out of bed, rubbing eyes, mumbles incoherently)  For blasted sakes, why didn’t that alarm go off?  Stupid tryptopan coma.

Okay, I admit.  I knew it was Monday, but I forgot about the Monday blog.  Throw in waking up 3 kids who’ve had five glorious days of sleeping in, one visiting mother-in-law, pet sitting a 106 lb. German shepherd, and a tennis match one state over, and I hope you’ll all forgive me for my tardiness.  My Thanksgiving was very pleasant, thank you for asking.  Naturally I ate too much and we still have leftovers lingering around here.  It doesn’t help that there’s a pecan pie beckoning to me either and this morning’s tennis match didn’t last long enough for me to burn enough calories to cancel out pie.  (By the way, we lost.  😦  )

Anyhow, this week’s topic is about the strangest experience we’ve had at a stopped traffic light.  Well, if any of you ever take a ride with me, you’ll discover real quickly my dislike of traffic lights.  Or at least the red version.  Unless I’m desperate to put some mascara on.  And inevitably I’ll get green all the way in that case.  I don’t think I have a strange traffic light experience, though I will say mine was life changing.

Picture this…Sicily 1938…ooops, I mean Jacksonville 2005.  (Sorry, I watched way too much of “The Golden Girls” back in the eighties and my inner Sophia was coming out.)  Okay, Jacksonville 2005, possibly 7 years to the day as it was post-Thanksgiving and it was indeed a Monday, and I was still teaching high school math.  I promised myself that morning that I was going to go to the gym after work.  All I had to do is leave the school by 4:00.  My gym bag was already in the van.  Had been there for two weeks, in fact.  The school day was pretty typical, not bad but not great, however there was a stack of papers I really needed to grade and one planning period wasn’t enough.  So I didn’t leave the school until 5:00 and I still had to stop at the grocery store for diapers for my youngest.  So much for going to the gym.  And it was while I was stuck at a traffic light on Atlantic Boulevard(because in Jacksonville, you’re always stuck at some light if you’re on Atlantic Boulevard) that I began mulling over my day while staring at a scrap piece of paper.

It may have been a receipt, perhaps the grocery list with diapers on it.  All I know is I took one look at it and drew a line down the center writing “Pros” and “Cons” at the top open space.  The second my pen hit the paper, I should have known it was a done deal, especially when the “Cons” were coming so much easier to me.  Half my pay went to day care.  I couldn’t keep up with the ever increasing paperwork.  It wasn’t enough to make lesson plans anymore.  It was that I spent much of my lesson plan time writing the same plan at least three times for various levels of documentation.  I don’t remember the rest of the reasons, but while I was still stuck at the light, I called my husband who was stationed in Virginia at the time, to say I was thinking about quitting teaching.  Being the super supportive husband he always has been, his only question was when.  Tomorrow?  At Christmas break?  I said I’d stick it out until the end of the school year.  I loved my students, but they weren’t getting the best of me any more than my own children or husband.  Too many irons in the fire and I was getting burned out.  I told him I’d think about it for a few weeks and decide at Christmas break, but that thinking it out turned out to only last a few more lights, one grocery store stop, and a daycare pick-up.

While I miss teaching and the student interaction, I don’t miss the bureaucracy and how politicians seem to think they know what’s best for education.  (They don’t.)  I have never regretted my decision and found that unlike my first experience doing the “Stay-At-Home-Mom” gig, I rather enjoy it now.  It’s not so much the “free time” (HA!) rather than being able to give the kids opportunities for extracurricular activities that “Teacher Mom” was way too exhausted to deal with.  I can go on field trips with my munchkins and have time to help with homework because I’m not making up tests, grading tests, or doing lesson plans.

So I suppose I ought to be thankful to that traffic light at Atlantic and Southside Boulevard for allowing my epiphany to take place, but if you found me at that intersection in the future, I’m more likely to be saying, “Light’s green!  Go, cars, go.  What are you waiting for?”  That epiphany?  Mine, all mine.  Those other cars can find their own life crossroad.


About Micki Gibson

Young Adult fiction writer
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10 Responses to Crossroads

  1. I enjoyed your story especially since the experience encouraged you to be a full time mom!


    • Micki Gibson says:

      I admit there’s a part of me that still longs to be part of the workforce, but since I believe I’m going to live past 100, I figure I’ve still got plenty of time left for that. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. I am always surprised when teachers DON’T burn out,(my husband is a burned-out one). I was a stay-at-home mom for many years.The hardest part was ‘attitude’ and comments from other people.I’m glad to see you stuck to your guns and did what you felt was best for you and your family.
    Glad you had a great T-day…don’t rest for long; here comes Christmas…agaaaaagggghhhhh!


    • Micki Gibson says:

      I don’t know what it is, sign from God, weight off shoulders, or whatever, but I know I’ve made the right decision when I feel a certain sense of peace once I make a difficult decision. I’ve even made some minor decisions that I knew was a good call. Like dinner last night. We were looking at night #3 of leftovers, but I decided it was a chili and grilled cheese sandwich kind of night. I don’t remember my husband’s exact words, but I think he’d marry me all over again for making that call. 🙂


  3. Life changing indeed! Glad it worked out so well


    • Micki Gibson says:

      Actually, it was during that first year off that I gave some thought to pursuing a writing career, but didn’t think I had anything to say. It was another three years before I really thought about it again, and this time it worked. And about a year and a half later, I met you! So I’d say that light indirectly led to me meeting you and our dear friend Arabella, so yes, it’s worked out very well.


  4. jeff salter says:

    That’s a great traffic light story, Micki.
    And congratulations on making a very difficult decision using pros & cons … instead of relying on emotions like many (male & female) are prone to do.
    My son is a teacher, already 41 but with only 5 or 6 FULL-Time years under his belt. He spent many years subbing and working other jobs. So he will be in his late 50s before he even has his 20 in. [I believe that’s still the min. hurdle for retirement from LA teaching].
    I think he also despairs of the bureaucracy.


    • Micki Gibson says:

      Your son is in a tough position. The politics and reality of the economy make it difficult for teachers in your son’s position…so much time invested already, but so far to go to retirement, that if the powers-that-be make things unbearable, you feel kind of stuck. I will say that it was my fellow teachers who got me through that tough year. Kind of like soldiers in the trenches. You’ve got each other’s backs. And to all those teachers out there, still trying to reach every student, doing their best with limited resources, I tip my hat to each and every one. I’m blessed that my kids have some of these fine folks. Cheers to your son, Jeff.


      • jeff salter says:

        Thanks, Micki. In my son’s case, his entire career was slowed by the speed at which he acquired his B.A. (i.e. very slowly). One of the programs he began had already been canceled by the time he could have finally graduated with it. So he had to change curric. & that lost even more time. Then he had prob. with one of the sections of the Praxis test. Then he got a teaching job, but had to teach his secondary subject rather than the one he’d been training for.
        I believe he now has only 3 yrs of F-t teaching in the subject he’s been working toward all these years.


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