Library Media Specialist

Once Bart received an offer from the Boston office and we decided to accept it, I started looking for library jobs in Massachusetts.

And by “started looking,” I mainly mean “began stressing about how I probably would never find a library job and would likely end up sweeping streets or something.” It just seemed like such a long-shot, getting a job in a very competitive field, especially when I was living half a continent away until only a week or two before most schools would begin their year. And unlike Bart’s field, that had a serious recruiting system in place, I felt like I was completely on my own to find and procure a job.

Bart would occasionally ask if I had applied for any jobs, and I would usually get all defensive or say how it was too early for openings to posted yet for schools. I could hardly think about it, really, without feeling ill.

Last year, the day before Valentine’s Day, Bart suggested that I probably could find a job if I really put some effort into seeking one out. After all, I had the qualifications and surely someone, somewhere needed to hire someone like me, if I could just find them. Feeling frustrated by the whole situation, but determined to prove that I was making an effort, I went online, found SchoolSpring (a national site that lists jobs in education) and filled out my application and set up the parameters to be alerted for jobs I’d be interested in (school libraries, any level, in the state of Massachusetts).

I got a few alerts here and there over the coming months, but nothing ever came of any of them. But at least I had made SOME sort of effort.

School finished and I had no real job prospects (not uncommon, frankly, among my graduating peers). I tried to imagine what I might do when we moved to Boston if I couldn’t find a job. Bart reassured me that I didn’t need to get a job and that I was welcome to stay home if I wanted to, but he also felt confident that I could find a job – a real library job.

Then, on May 22, 2009, the day of Bart’s graduation from UT and the day before I graduated, I got a job alert about an opening in an elementary school library near-ish to Boston.

In the hubbub of graduation and visiting parents and grandparents, I didn’t apply until the following week. I received the confirmation email that my application had gone through and then promptly forgot about it, as thinking about it was simply too depressing.

A week later, Bart and I were driving back from San Antonio, and I dug my phone out of the back pocket of the car seat to see a missed call.

The number listed as a Massachusetts number and I listened to the voicemail with my heart in my throat. The message was from the principal, saying she’d received my application and was wondering if I was really moving to Massachusetts since I’d indicated I’d already applied for a license, but my address was listed as Texas.

When Bart and I got home, I looked up the school and instantly had my heart set on this job. The school was old and brick and darling. I wanted this job so much it hurt.

The next morning, sitting in the parking lot at my office, I called the principal, told her I was indeed moving to Massachusetts, and would be very interested in the job. She said she’d call the next week to set up an interview.

I spent several days preparing for my interview – making a list of possible questions and formulating responses. Bart drilled me on my answers, Kay (my library mentor) gave me some helpful ideas about overarching themes to concentrate on, and I prayed my brains out.

My boss arranged for me to use a conference room at work so that I could have some quiet for my phone interview, and I spent the morning anxiously waiting for the time to arrive. I wanted this job so so badly, but I didn’t want to put all my hopes on it either. Oh, it was a long morning.

Plus, the idea of a phone interview was terrifying.

A few minutes before my interview time, I went to the conference room, plugged in my phone, and waited for it to ring.

The connection was fairly terrible and I had to ask them several times to repeat questions, but overall it went fairly smoothly. None of their questions were terribly unusual, and I felt prepared and professional. The interview only lasted about 20 minutes, and then they said they’d let me know.

Within an hour or so, I received an email from the outgoing librarian saying she thought they’d make a decision quickly and that the two of us who had interviewed (one in person and me by phone) had both been impressive.

And then, just shortly afterward, the principal called and offered me the job. I clearly remember standing in my cubicle at work, writing down the details, and feeling like this was all so surreal. I had gotten into the masters program of my choice and now I had my dream job.

I remember walking around the corner and seeing the school in person for the first time, looking through the bookshelves, meeting the principals, and aides, and teachers, pacing the room before the very first class arrived on the first day of school, driving back and forth from home to school day after day.

All of this went through my head yesterday as I finished inventory at the libraries, cleaned off my desks, locked up the TVs, and unplugged the computers.

So many pieces had to fall into place for this all to work out, and it did. And now the year is over.

I won’t be going back in the fall – I turned in my official resignation last week to the district office, and someone else will apply and interview and be offered the job. Someone else will walk into the tiny, cramped little office and sit at that desk and marvel at having a library job of their very own. They’ll envision a year worth of lesson plans, and have classes they love and classes they dread a little bit, and days where they feel like the best librarian ever and days where they feel like it’s all just such a waste and no one is paying any attention at all.

Someone else will discover the back parking lot and love the teachers at the schools and hate bus duty on cold January mornings when the wind is blowing off the ocean front.

That someone won’t be me, though, because I’ll be home with my baby.

I went back and forth about what to do; did I want to stay home? Did I want to give up my dream job? Was it a waste to have put in all the effort of this year and not get to see it pay off in bigger ways next year?

I’ve wanted to be a librarian for most of my life, and the last three years have been actively dedicated to children’s librarianship. My life this last year has revolved around my job, my curriculum, my books, and my students.

And the payback has been enormous; these two schools are filled with students that are smart and funny and light up the library when they come in, eager to ask about my day or new books or lessons. The teachers have floored me with their enthusiasm and dedication and ingenuity. The other librarians in the district have become dear friends. I have spent my working hours surrounded by books and people who love books and children who want to love books.

A year ago, I couldn’t fathom that not only did such an environment exist, but that I’d get to work there.

Those are hard things to walk away from. It’s not a snap decision to hold lifelong dreams in your hands and then give those up for an unknown future. But in the end, even more than I wanted this job last spring, I want to be home for my baby.

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  1. What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about the past year. Though we were celebrating birthdays yesterday (6 in all), I did think of you and your last day at school. I'm glad it has been such a wonderful experience. (I am even a little jealous.) And though the unknown is always scary, I hope the next year will be a wonderful experience as well.

  2. So much of this was exactly how I felt when I started/worked/decided to leave my job in Blanding in order to get married. Weird to say, but it was a hard decision for me to leave. Even when it meant getting the other dream: getting married. Fortunately for me my job in Cedar was just that: a job (not anywhere near a career) and leaving for Raymond was easy.

    I'm do so excited for you to stay home with your little one! It's a whole new lifestyle, but a good one. I loved having a baby at the beginning of summer (when I wouldn't have been working anyway) because it made the transition smoother. Now you just need that little girl to arrive!

  3. I'm so happy that you had a wonderful experience in a job that you loved. And, that you have made a decision that sounds like it is the best one for you and your family. Congrats on your next exciting adventure!

  4. I had been wondering what your plans were, and imagining that it would not be an easy decision because it's so clear you love your job (and you're so good at it too!). Thanks for such a great, honest post.

  5. This decision is always tough, and made tougher when you genuinely love your job. But, it sounds to me like you made the right decision for your family. And, when your child is older, if you want to go back to work, you will still be qualified at that point, and you will get another great library job then.

  6. This was beautiful to read. I'm excited for you on your new adventure, but I can see how it's hard to put this part of you aside for awhile. (Not forever…just for awhile. 🙂 )

  7. I can completely relate to this beautiful post. It's so hard to move on from something you love so much. I still miss teaching. But I wouldn't give up being home with my baby for anything! It's magic!

  8. I actually teared up reading this post. It's so hard between taking a dream but also considering another dream. I think you made the right decision, but more importantly, you did what's right for YOU and your family.

  9. I can't say you'll never look back, but I'm pretty sure you'll love this new job too! There are days I would love to drop them off at daycare and go to a "job." But never for more than a day. 🙂 Have fun!

  10. Sounds like you are making the right decision for you. You have the education and experience, so if you decide you want to go back into the workforce later on, you can. You've still got options! It's what my mom did and I think she is satisfied with her decision.

  11. Such a lovely, thoughtful post! I am sad for you that one wonderful experience is ending… But so happy at the same time – that you got to live this dream, that your next step will certainly be just as exciting and rewarding (if not more).

  12. Thanks for sharing! I love to hear stories about women who weigh their options and joyfully make the decision to stay at home with their baby. I think it gives me confidence about my future as a mother.

  13. This was such a sweet and honest post! Thanks for sharing your feelings with us. I know it has to be bittersweet right now, but man–you are just an incredible person and will excel at anything you do, including being a mama. Enjoy every single second!

  14. a wonderful piece of writing. Your daughter will treasure this too when she is old enough to understand. Thank you for sharing it. I'm so happy you found your dream job.

  15. I can guarantee that you will NEVER regret this decision, and would have probably felt a slight (or not so slight) tinge of guilt everyday if you would have gone with the alternative.

    Being a mother is the most incredible thing in the world and the thought of missing any of those amazing little moments with my little one makes me feel sick.

    I know you're going to love it! Good luck mama!

  16. Very cool! I know it can be hard to make a decision like that. I'm positive this decision will be even more rewarding than your employment!

  17. What a year it's been for you! Think of it as an open door-someday, you might go back through but staying home (with a sweet baby) will be fantastic. Think of all the reading you will get done while you watch that baby grow and it helps that you are frugal!

  18. Bless you. Such a hard choice, and one you'll never regret though you are probably in for some rough days ahead financially AND emotionally. It isn't realistic to think otherwise.

    My first school I left because I was moving when we got married for Plantboy's school, the second school I left because we moved for Plantboy's job, the third school I left to stay home with my firstborn, the fourth school I left again for hubby's job in another state.

    Do you see a pattern? Sometimes it is just hard to be a woman. I shed tears every time I handed in a resignation. When you work at a school, a part of you always stays behind permanently etched in yearbooks and memories.

    I hope my next school is one where I will want to put down deep roots, and where leaving might be on my own terms. Still, if not, being a nomad teaches you to bloom where you are planted.

  19. This is so very FULL. You are going to have another wonderful, meaningful year. With enormous payback!

  20. I have to admit that I'm a little jealous that you get to stay home with your baby. I've always taken 6 weeks off and then gone back to work. One day…

  21. I'm glad you have decided to stay home with your baby. Your education is not wasted. If you ever have to or want to, you can go back to work.

  22. I think you are going to love your new job! I bet it will be a wonderful and rewarding experience to be home with your baby. And you can always be a librarian again at some point, so you have plenty of options!

  23. Not gonna lie, this post got me all choked up. Yep. The joy of receiving your offer, the beauty of the school and the library, the adorable kids… what a year you had. That school was lucky to have you. But now, your baby girl is even luckier. I am so excited for you. 🙂 (there i go choking up again.)

  24. Wow, what a post. I almost started tearing up reading this! Thanks for sharing – and congrats on this exciting new adventure!

  25. What a beautiful post Janssen. I'm so glad things worked out for you and that you had such a lovely year. I think your job was so perfect though, in part, just because you were doing what you love. I think this job and any job you hold in the future that involves you and books will be lovely. And I don't think that you will ever regret giving it up to stay at home with your baby girl. It's hard for sure, but it's beautiful and fulfilling and I guarantee you'll love your daughter more than this dream job or any dream job you could ever have. You'll be wonderful as a mother, and you'll now be able to take joy in seeing your own child develop a love for books as you read to her.

  26. It's so hard, isn't it? I have wanted to be a teacher my whole life… I got married after my first year of college and had a baby after my first year of marriage. I kept plugging along, taking classes and having more babies along the way. 10 WHOLE YEARS and a total of 4 girls later, I graduated. I spent my last year as an intern, teaching 2nd grade. I knew I wouldn't go back; I knew my last day would be my last day for a LONG time. I had spent so much time on my schooling (which I know was important to do and I hope my girls will recognize that and complete their schooling as well), put in so much hard work, all to be able to work at my dream job, and I was quitting after a year. It was definitely a bittersweet day.

    But now I'm home with my 5 kids all day long. They have my (for the most part lol) undivided attention. I am here for them. And that's more important than faculty meetings, professional development classes, grading papers, filling out forms, lesson plans, etc. I can teach my kids. I can help them in their learning process. And if I ever want to go back to being a teacher later on, I can. But I can't ever be "a mom to my kids as they're growing up" later on. And that's what's most important.

    Thanks for reaffirming my decision.

  27. You'll get to do many of the same things as a mom…read stories out loud, play review Jeopardy (our GC tradition), share favorite books with young readers, have a Mother/Daughter book club with friends. You're going to be such a great mom! I think that it says a lot that my thirteen-year-old son wants to live with you and Bart if anything ever happens to us! And I love that my sixteen-year-old daughter read this post and then shared it with me. Life is long enough for many dreams to be wished and realized.

  28. While I agree with everyone that this is a lovely post, it also makes me laugh. I remember finishing up my interview for the same job, and being told that there was a second applicant that would be calling in from Texas. I remember sitting outside the hall of that school, and listening to the principal and the department head start your interview. But mostly I remember thinking, I hope I get this job and she doesn't! I am so sad that you're leaving, but I think that overall everything ended as it should be. Please keep in touch, I really want to meet your baby and I need to get your the ARCs from the conference.

  29. This made me all teary–both in the fabulous dream-job and the fabulous mommyhood. I'm so excited for you!


  30. Thank you for your honesty. For each of us, finding the right balance between career and family is hard. I'm sure when you decide to return to librarianship, another wonderful opportunity will open up, but for the time being, you have this new amazing experience.

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