Friday, May 13, 2011
The furlough days agreed upon by the Los Angeles Teachers Union and Los Angeles Unified School District have been financially challenging to our family budget. The declining enrollment starting several years back and the changeover from year-round schools to traditional schools is also pointing to one significant problem: a sharp drop in Tim’s income. He made tens of thousands of dollars less last year than in previous years. For well over a decade excellent job opportunities were available and Tim took them. That hard working man of mine has always said, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Indeed it did and he did.
The sun isn’t shining so brightly anymore.
We’ve thought about all sorts of solutions to this impending problem; selling our house and moving out to a much less expensive area, or my returning to work full-time as a teacher, or even the nursing school option. The challenge with selling our home is that we’d have to move so far away to make an appreciable difference that Tim would hardly see the kids, we’d uproot our well-established, nurturing social lives, and we’d be farther from our aging fathers. None of these options seem wise.
So, I thought about going back to work as a special education teacher. I spent years training for this field. I called an advisor at my college and she was stumped. “Well, last year we made such big program changes that you might have to take many classes over again.” When I compared the new requirements to my transcripts I counted about 12 classes I’d have to retake. In effect, redo all my credential coursework. And although I love teaching and working with kids, I really don’t feel inclined to take a job that limits me to a classroom full time away from my kids for a salary that would be mildly beneficial. With all of the cuts to every school district, the only jobs available for a new teacher would be the really rotten positions. Oh, no thanks!
We also thought about taking in a child or two for in-home daycare. The money, for the time and responsibility, is not significant. I feel weary at the prospect of being the full-time caregiver for an infant or toddler because that’s just about all I’ve done for the last 15+ years. I would really NOT prefer to do that anymore at this point in my life. But, it still is a possibility and one I haven’t ruled out.
What seems most logical, for long-term flexibility (home school options), career options, and beneficial income possibilities is a nursing degree. Particularly, to advance on to a Masters of Science in Nurse-Midwifery. After much research on the internet I discovered that Cal State Fullerton has an exceptional, albeit competitive program. The total schooling and work experience to reach my goal would easily be about 8 years. Probably more. A couple of those years would be some intense time away from the girls. This is what weighs on my mind the most. However, if I know that season has a clear beginning and an end, then I can prepare for that time. I know in the long run I will have greater flexibility as to when and how much I work while doing something that greatly interests me. I will also be earning an income that is commensurate with our financial needs (raising six kids gets more expensive as they get older!) and that makes all the sacrifices more palpable. Tim and I see so many more benefits in this option than anything on the table currently.
The biggest challenge for me at this point is finding a junior college where I can take the pre-requisite science classes I need to even apply for nursing school. In the Los Angeles area that is no small feat. Wow! All the junior colleges are impacted. I have a plan, though, and I have some promising prospects. The helpful thing about this direction is that Tim and I are in agreement and will take the plan one semester at a time. There is not a significant financial or time cost with taking one class a semester at a junior college. At any time we could decide to stop the whole process and not much will be lost. I am trying to approach this new development in my life with a very open mind and a guarded heart.
Much prayer and communication will continue. I know God is faithful. Whatever he has planned for me and our family he will bring to pass.