I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am heading professionally.
As you may recall, I was a high school history teacher for nearly a decade before I took some time off to have my kids. I had planned to go back into teaching all along, but I’ve hit a few roadblocks since September 2007, when Big Brother was born:
- I never got certified to teach. When I taught public school in New York City back in the days before No Child Left Behind, I worked in a low-income neighborhood where, it seemed, the fact that I was conscious and literate “qualified” me to teach third grade. After that, I taught at prep schools where certification wasn’t required. So now I find myself with nine years of teaching experience and undergraduate and graduate degrees in history living over an hour away from the nearest private school – and, according to my current state, I am totally unqualified to teach history at a public school without many hours and thousands of dollars of additional coursework. (Not that there are any jobs to be had even if I were certified.)
- I don’t really want to teach anyway. Now that I am a mother, I can’t imagine teaching as I did it before: staying up till all hours planning and grading, getting to work early to meet with students, staying late to coach. And now that my heart belongs to three very small creatures, I worry that there wouldn’t be enough of it left to share with dozens of bigger ones.
- I think I want to be a writer when I grow up. Aside from not being able to teach and not really wanting to anyway, I realized that there might be another profession I want to try out. So, it seems, it’s back to the drawing board (and not to the chalkboard).
And that all brings me to the point of today’s post: I know what I want to do and I know some of the first steps to take to do it, but what I really want is a mentor. A tour guide. Someone who has tread this path before and can help me figure out which step to take next.
As a teacher, I always had a mentor. A department head or a wise and wizened pal to tell me what to wear to Parents’ Night, how to log on to the online grading system, and how to help my kids understand the significance of the European revolutions of 1848.
As a mom, I have mentors. My own mom. My mom friends. All of you.
But as a would-be freelance essayist and writer of creative nonfiction (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), I feel like I’m a babe in the woods without a breadcrumb trail to follow. Don’t get me wrong: I know there are plenty of people out there who have charted the same course. And even some who have done it while their kids are little and at home all day.
But what I don’t know is someone who has done it and might be able to help me do the same, all the while meeting me for the occasional coffee date, sharing with me anecdotes about editors, shoring me up when those inevitable rejection letters come in, and teaching me about monetization and SEO.
Kind of a tall order, huh?
Do you have a mentor? Wanna be mine? Know where I can find one? And what’s a life coach anyway?