It has been a crazy year at the Jekeli house. My husband Jon and I found out we were pregnant, went into early labor, were restricted to bed rest for several weeks, ended up delivering our baby about a month early, and ended up in the NICU for 10 days, but all that is for another time.
Since bringing our baby home the one question I have been asked the most is “So, what’s next?” in one form or another. Figuring out what’s next felt so overwhelming; to think about what’s next for my teaching career, my photography business and our family just seemed so far outside my mental capabilities. All I want is a full night’s sleep, a day where I didn’t wear throw up as part of my outfit (this has yet to happen, lol) and a little semblance that I know what is going on. However, the question what is next was always looming. This past week I had to face the question of what’s next head on.
This past year I have been able to take a year leave of absence from my teaching job to stay home with my sweet baby. It was a difficult choice to make but it has been such a blessing for our family. I have had the privilege of being a teacher for the last 6 years in Kettering City Schools in Dayton Ohio. I am an intervention specialist and can honestly say I have my dream job. If you were to ask me in college what I wanted to do when I graduated I would have given you a description of my classroom. I work with the sweetest, most kind and loving kids on the planet and a few adults that are seriously the most selfless people I have ever met. I have a classroom of about 12 students with some degree of physical and/or cognitive disability. We learn, we cook, we play, we are adventurous and inside my classroom is a place where everyone is loved and everyone is safe. With the end of the school year just around the corner the district needed to know what was next; was I taking another year leave of absence, was I coming back to the classroom or was I resigning?
So after months of avoiding the question that seemed to be haunting me since I got home from the hospital it was time to decide -
This post week I resigned from my teaching position. It was not a choice I made lightly, I went back and forth hundreds of times, I wrestled with the Lord, but ultimately it came down to the fact that I can’t get this time back. I can always go back to the workforce one day but I can never make my baby small again. The hardest part of making this decision was not about the money, it was not about what I thought people would think, it was about the fact that I truly from the bottom of my heart love my job. I loved my students. I still love them, they are some of my favorite humans. My students taught me so much more than I feel like I could ever teach them and thinking of leaving them is gut wrenching. I think that is why facing the question of what’s next was so hard from me, I didn’t want to leave my students. The only thing that takes that pain away is the fact that I know the Lord loves them even more than I do and can teach and provide for them far more than I ever would be able to. I believe my leaving is part of God’s greater story.
So with tears in my eyes, I say good-bye to that stage of my life and hello to the next stage. I am so thankful to get the opportunity to stay home with my baby, to watch him grow and learn, to disciple and shepherd him. I am excited to invest in my family and grow as an individual because being a stay at home mom does not come without its challenges. I believe this choice is one that has been ordained for us by the Lord, it is something He has called our family to and I believe He has challenges, excitement, joy and sorrow all waiting for us.
As far as my photography business or our family I am not sure what’s next. All I know is for now the Lord is providing clients to take pictures of and has not given us another child yet, so I will give thanks for the here and now, but I have a feeling the question “what’s next?” will never be far off. Therefore, for now I will wake up in sooth my crying baby, I will wear the spit up as a badge of honor and I will rest in the truth that the Lord had led us here and He will lead us to what’s next.