After two years in Minnesota, it seemed time to return to Madison. The owners of the school where I was working announced to all employees that they were experiencing financial issues and they would need to cut back on hours and pay raises. My pay was never truly adequate for a long term commitment for a single parent, so cutting back would definitely hurt our financial stability. At the same time Jessica talked about missing Madison, and since I was feeling the same way, we discussed heading back home. After my experience of working for a private school, I was ready to get a teaching job with Madison Public School District. I felt I would have more job security and better earning potential for the future. Raising a child without any assistance meant I was the sole provider, and I took that role quite seriously.
I returned to Madison a different woman, more independent and more grounded with a better understanding of my positions as a mother and a daughter. It took a bit of time to secure a full time teaching position, but I was patient and willing to substitute for a semester in order to become known in the district. Within three months I was offered a contract to complete the year for a primary teacher that was moving out of state.
The move back to Madison was definitely the correct choice, giving Jessica consistent access to her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Three weeks after returning I met a friend of one of our neighbors. We began dating, but I was determined to take this relationship more slowly than others because I had learned that time was needed in order to more fully know someone. From our first meeting Jim and I shared an easygoing connection. I enjoyed his sense of humor and his relaxed level of comfort with himself and with me. We were able to discuss a variety of topics and we quickly realized that we agreed on a huge amount of fundamental beliefs from religion to politics to respect and enjoyment of family. When we spent time together I felt relaxed, happy and comfortable, but above all else I could be authentic. I didn't feel as though I had to hide my real feelings to impress him, and needless to say, that was monumentally important!