My journey to founding SchoolHive is both professional and personal. The personal first (but please stay with me to read about the professional). A couple of years ago, one of my children became seriously ill. Her illness had grown over a long period of time, mostly unnoticed or unremarked upon by the folks who should’ve seen it, including her teachers and her parents. At the time of the diagnosis, my family was enjoying a semester out of the country in a vibrant international city. I stayed home and at my job, visiting as often as I could. Our actual home was in a rural community where we didn’t have access to the treatment our daughter needed to get better, so my partner and I made the difficult decision that she and the kids would stay put, in Tel Aviv, while our daughter healed.
I attempted to negotiate a new schedule at the school where I worked, one that would allow me time to work remotely part of each month and be with my family while my daughter got the treatment she needed. But my negotiation was unsuccessful and I was forced to step away from my position. Was that easy? Not by a long shot. I was terrified at the prospect of having no income, and of wrecking my career, and angry at how things had turned out, but I knew it was the right choice. To see our daughter now, you would never know that she’d been sick. She’s thriving and well, and that means everything. If that were the end of the story, it would be enough.
Being pregnant gives you a kind of public identity; everyone who sees you implicitly understands a crucial aspect of who you are or what your life is becoming. I remember, after giving birth, walking around the neighborhood and feeling strangely identity-less, with that distinctive marker gone. Walking away from my job felt, in its own way, similar. I didn’t recognize myself, without the external trappings of job title and salary. I didn’t know what to think about, how to occupy my mind, without the all-absorbing issues of work. Who was I, without those things? Was mother enough?
I threw myself into caring for my family, and I tried to remind myself of all I had to be grateful for (although it wasn’t always so consoling). I knew unequivocally that I had made the right choice, but I walked through the days feeling lost. All the while, my partner kept reminding me that twists and turns in life are also opportunities and that this was my chance to slow down, have time with our kids, and think about what mattered to me and what I wanted to do next. She encouraged me to remember that we have one life, and to make a conscious choice about how I wanted to live the next part of mine.
I think this brings me to the end of Part I. Please stay for Part 2, and learn about how feeling lost eventually led me to understand how to reclaim my professional identity.