I'm not very good at titles. I never have been. I hated being required to have titles for English papers in middle and high school. And I don't like spending hours trying to come up with a title that will very likely only be mediocre.
Over the past several years I've spent a fair amount of time considering my chosen degree/career and whether it was a good choice or not. I decided to major in music in 7th grade. Thankfully I was intelligent enough to re-evaluate this decision towards the end of high school. And, despite liking some other things as well, I didn't like them enough to want a career in them. I loved performing, so I continued on in music.
But after I got married and had graduated I sometimes felt badly that I hadn't majored in something where I could graduate and get a typical full-time job and make lots of money while Ryan finished up. Even the FAFSA forms seemed to assume that this was what I should have done, so Ryan didn't get a Pell grant that last year. During the same time I was teaching private lessons, which I liked decently enough, but didn't feel like I wanted to do forever. After all, my dream had been performing, not teaching. So it was easy to feel, despite knowing since 7th grade that I'd wanted to do music, that I'd made a poor decision. (Of course, if I considered my other interests, none of those were particularly lucrative either, so I'd probably not have been any better off.)
Then I had Gareth and we moved. And we knew we'd only be in VA for a year, so it didn't make sense to teach there. And Gareth hated me practicing. And I almost went crazy. Sometimes I really did wish I'd done something where I could go get a 9-5 job so that I could choose to go back to work.
The year ended and we moved here. I've been surprised by all of the musical opportunities in the community, especially considering that the music program at the university is non-existent. I've realized how much I loved and missed teaching. Private lessons are still preferred, but my sectional teaching is (usually) enjoyable for me as well. I've discovered that everyone needs an outlet to re-energize them. For me, I've got to get out of the house without Gareth and teach and play and bring in some income. The everyday grind is more easily faced as long as I have this outlet. (Thankfully Ryan is incredibly supportive of this. I don't think he enjoyed the almost-crazy me.) And now I'm so grateful I chose the career I did. Because I don't really want to be working a 9-5 drone job. With my degree I have so much flexibility. I can choose to be involved in as much or as little of the music community as I would like. I've spent most of the school year working 3.5 hours per week. I can't think of many other jobs where I could do that. In whatever community we end up in I can find local performance opportunities. I can go back to school and get a MM or a DMA if I want or ever need to. Wherever we go I can teach. And I can teach from my home if I choose to (right now I teach at the high school). It is so easy for me to have a career and a family life with my degree. I feel like, if I needed to, I could do a decent job of supporting a family with my career. And the best part: I love what I do!
The first year I "had to" stay home with Ryan, I also thought I was going to go crazy. The only way I could make money from home was babysitting, which I did. It didn't help the crazy feeling....
The office where I worked until Ryan was born asked me to come in a couple of days to help them catch up with some backlogged reports that urgently needed finishing (until they got someone hired and trained). I clearly remember leaving Ryan with a babysitter and going to work. I was sad to leave him, but I knew it was very temporary. I went in to work and felt great--talking intelligently with adults, doing work I enjoyed and was good at, and feeling a sense of accomplishment at the finished product. On top of it all, I got paid to do this! I completely understood why new mothers go back to work. It was a bit tempting to join them.
Then I went home, picking up Ryan on the way. Looking into his face, I realized as never before the responsibility I was taking on by choosing to stay home and raise him. I understood what I was giving up. I had only hope and faith that it would be worth it. However, I knew that no one in the world could love that little baby more than I, so no one was more qualified for the job.
It wasn't until after Daniel was born that I had the opportunity to start my home-based business that has been rewarding enough to continue for 14+ years.
Erin, thank you for choosing to stay home with Gareth. I am thankful you have found a part-time, workable outlet that allows you to get some personal development rewards (and earn a few bucks at the same time). We don't always see at the time how the Lord is guiding us. It's often only through hindsight that we see His hand clearly!
I'm glad you love what you do! Have fun teaching!
Erin--you have a blog! Of course Nancy would notice that, because she is a die-hard blogger, and she put you on her family blog role, so I found it. I am so glad you majored in music, because you rock the clarinet! And I am so glad you can be at home with your son except for a few hours to re-energize yourself. And I have a fabulous article about music that I want to share with you!
Though I don't have a child, I've wondered many of these same things before. Why did I choose music? Why didn't I pick something that makes more money? But the bottom line (for me, anyways) was that I do enjoy the clarinet and know that I could always find some way (however small) to incorporate it into my life. I don't think you can say that with every major. I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're finding ways to enrich your life and the lives of others through your music.
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