Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Occupational Whiplash

Once upon a time in a land far away, a land of cacti, scorpions, and summers of scorching heat, I was a high school drama and English teacher. I loved my job, and I loved the students, but mostly I enjoyed the hell out of my drama students. They were a whip-smart, funny, talented bunch of kids, and working with them felt a lot more like fun than a job. Sure there were evening rehearsals that resulted in 7:00 am - 9:00 pm workdays, and there were long Saturdays spent building sets. I dragged my brand-new husband along on the Saturdays, and he went happily to work hanging flats and building platforms alongside me.

It all went swimmingly until I got pregnant after my fourth year teaching. I didn't see that one coming, although two bottles of red wine on my first anniversary says that I probably should have.

In a whirlwind of pregnancy complications, bed rest, and the sudden, intense maternal drive to be a stay-at-home mom to this unborn baby, I left that teaching job. Left it and moved two hundred miles away - to a land of soaring mountains, pine trees, and snowy winters that had the added bonus of having this place willing to hire my husband and give us the paycheck needed to allow me to be a stay-at-home mom.

I never looked back, although there was a certain nostalgic pang every fall when the stores were festooned with "Back to School!" signs. I was a mommy, and this new life left no room for late-night rehearsals or Saturdays spent with power saws and paint brushes. Especially after our second baby girl was born three years later.

A year after that we moved two thousand more miles away, to a land of moose, brilliantly-colored autumns, and frigid winters that lasted till April. I cooked healthy meals, hosted playdates, baked cookies, volunteered at schools, and chauffered my kids around in a minivan. Immersed in the day-to-day (and occasionally minute-to-minute) tasks of mommyhood, I assumed that I would be doing this forever. It certainly felt that way when I was up at 2:30 a.m. with a vomiting toddler, anyway. I couldn't imagine my life any different and really didn't want to.

And then ... this is the weird part. Then fourteen years went by.

And one night, I found myself sitting at a Fine Arts Boosters' meeting at my elder daughter's school. I offered a fund-raising suggestion involving the program for the school play, and by way of explanation told the group that I used to teach drama.

There was a silence.

One woman spoke up, "You know, there's a coaching position open at the high school for the one-act play competition. They can't find anyone to do it. The kids are so disappointed." She fixed me with a hopeful gaze.

I hemmed and hawed. Stay-at-home mom. Busy, busy, busy. Starting to sub! Full plate, etc.

I went home and thought about it. Truth is, I'm not THAT busy. My kids are fifth grade and eighth grade. And then, what really niggled at me, was the thought of these drama kids at the high school wanting to do a play and not being able to find a coach. Drama kids are my people.

Long story short, the principal called me and asked if I'd come in to hear about the position. (And probably also wanted to clap eyeballs on me to make sure I wasn't a total freakshow).

And now I'm a drama coach again, y'all.

What just happened??