It’s such a simple word, but one heavy with meaning, with possibilities.
I’ve used the word to command my children to stop bickering: “Enough!” I shout. I’ve used the word when I’ve overindulged in sweet treats. “Enough,” I say sheepishly as I make a silent vow to work a little bit harder on the treadmill so my favorite pants will still fit. “Enough,” I say sadly when I know we can’t take in any more foster dogs because the proverbial inn, a.k.a., our house, is overfull.
And I used the word recently when I left my job, when I effectively ended a career I’ve been building for 20+ years. “Enough,” I said. “It will be enough.”
I didn’t utter the word in frustration or disgust. Rather, my tone was one of calm and happy anticipation because I left my job to do something I’d dreamed of for a very long time: to teach.
In this age when teachers are openly attacked and ridiculed by legislators and in the media, leaving a steady marketing and communications career to become a teacher may sound just shy of insane. But, like most things, there’s more to the story.
I’d been adjunct faculty at the university for many years and when I was offered the chance to go full-time, it was joyous. I’d discovered years prior that the most satisfaction and happiness I received from my professional life came not from writing annual reports or press releases, but helping students have ‘a-ha’ moments in their studies. Annual reports and press releases are soon forgotten, but education and knowledge are forever and it thrilled me to be able to help students have that experience.
But nothing in the world is perfect and I knew there would be trade offs.
It won’t come as a shock to you to learn that people who go into teaching don’t do it for the money. For me, taking the teaching job meant a 40 percent cut in salary, which would obviously have a significant impact on our household. I wasn’t sure how I could make it work, then, in a huge stroke of luck, my husband, who had been a stay-at-home-dad for the past four years, received a phone call from the hospital where he used to work. They asked if he’d like to come back. His new salary plus my teaching salary would equal just a little bit more than what I made in my previous job. Honestly, it was like the Universe said, “I got your back.” I tell my husband that, in our own way, we won the lottery.
There were a few months before my teaching contract went into effect when my husband was working full-time and I was working in my marketing job. Two incomes, one of them pretty generous, was very, very nice. I padded our savings account and paid off several bills. Then my mind wandered…if we both kept these jobs, we could travel, I thought, nice trips on airplanes, not weekend jaunts in the car to Prescott or San Diego. We’d be able to buy the shutters for the kids’ rooms we’d been talking about. We’d be able to replace the garage door rather than patching it over every few months.
But then that word jumped into my head: Enough.
“It’s enough,” I thought. We could have more stuff, but stuff isn’t the most important thing.
I don’t want to spout a bunch of cliches about money — how it can’t buy you happiness or love. Nobody needs to hear that, especially people who struggle to pay the rent each month. But in my case — in my very, very fortunate turn of events — I can honestly say “Enough.”