Before I became a mom, I was a teacher, a very passionate teacher. I spent hours upon hours creating lessons and grading papers for my incredibly interesting middle school students. (Plus, my husband spent hours upon hours at the hospital, as he was a resident during our first few years of our marriage. So I didn’t really have much else to do).
I was very nervous about having my first child because I knew that I was going to stay home for the first year, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to give up teaching…something that was so much a part of me, that brought me such satisfaction. But it was best that I stayed home with Cameron for the first year. It was by no means easy, but we survived, and the next two years I was able to go back to teaching part time, with Cameron attending preschool where I taught. A beautiful compromise for us all.
When Max came around, I faced the same dilemma. Again, I would be giving up teaching for a year to stay home with him. Again, it was a struggle, but I managed, knowing that I could return the following year to a part time position.
But then God threw a loop in my plans, and the lovely Ella came along. So now I was going to have to stay home yet another year to care for her. How I was going to do this happily, I wasn’t quite sure, because I really did miss being in the classroom…gaining satisfaction from something more than just having all the laundry folded and in drawers...or the dinner dishes actually cleaned the night we had the dinner. I missed the laughing I had with teenagers, the excitement of sharing a good book with them and vice-versa. I missed seeing them grow as writers and listening to the drama of a modern adolescent. I just felt something indescribable…more worth or something…when I was teaching.
But God also knew that in giving me Ella, he would throw me a lifeline to handle being at home again. For one, he helped me decide to send Max to preschool part time, keeping my sanity in tact. He gifted me with a very laid back baby. And he lead me to a group of women at my church (Mom’s Spiritual Spa), all seeking the same kind of companionship and connection that I was missing the previous years I stayed home. Once a week we meet to discuss issues in the Bible and usually at least one other time we meet somewhere for our kids to all play together. We also connect over the phone and through e-mail, discussing the trials, tribulations and joys of being a stay-at-home mom. This group truly has been a Godsend for me.
And because of them and through prayer, I’ve decided not to seek a teaching job next year. I just feel like it will be too much to juggle. First of all I have 2 more grad classes to finish up to earn my Masters. Then Cameron will be in Kindergarten, so I’ll have to find something to work with his schedule, and then I’d have TWO in daycare to cart around and try to match my schedule to. Just thinking about it makes me stressed. So I decided with my friends and my faith, I could endure, and even enjoy, another year at home.
But part of me has felt somewhat worried. This would be my 3rd year in a row out of the classroom. I was beginning to feel a loss of passion for teaching. Ever since the summer passed last year, I haven’t finished a single adolescent literature book, nor have I been interested at all in reading any of my professional literature or journals that are resting on my shelves. Usually I cart them around where ever I go, trying to sneak in a chapter here or an article there. But lately, I’ve had no desire. I’ve started so many books over and over, just to end up abandoning them for lack of interest on my part (mixed with fatigue). My fear is that I’m losing something that has been such an important part of me, something that I’m actually really good at.
Today, I went to take the kids to an indoor play place
at a community center which currently houses the school where I used to teach. While there, I stopped in to talk to some colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while. One teacher, who used to teach 4th and 5th graders, was teaching middle school language arts. The first thing she said to me after commenting on my “cute little family” I had now was, “I don’t know how you taught middle school!” She then went on to inform me that she had turned in her resignation and was leaving in a couple weeks (this dealt primarily with daycare issues with her son, but I’m sure her lack of enthusiasm for her kids played into the decision).
“Who’s going to take your place?” I asked with interest as I peeked into her room, noticing too much silence.
“I don’t know, and neither do they,” she responded.
As I sat in the play area with my kids, I thought about what she said, and for a moment, I felt butterflies in my stomach. So they need someone to teach language arts parttime. It would only be for a couple months, state testing is all over, and the kids have probably been bored all year. It would be perfect. I could come in and do all my fun stuff…do read alouds, introduce new authors, share the books that have been collecting dust at my home, read fun novels together as a class, or do lit circles. For English we could share memoirs and do the “Poetry with Passion” unit my kids always loved so much. My heart starting pounding, and I had this smile glued to my face.
But then reality set in. I’d like to say that witnessing Max eagerly follow Cameron through the tubes, around the ropes and down the slides (ending in cheers), or feeling Ella sleep peacefully in my arms, brought me back to what I really wanted and should be doing. But that played a minor part, and in all honesty, it was the realization that I’d have to get childcare for all of my children and it would probably cost more for daycare than what I’d be making at this financially troubled school. It’s not even like I was offered the job or anything (but I know enough people there where if I expressed an interest, I probably could have the position).
But it was just good to know that the passion that I feared was diminishing, that excitement and enthusiasm that I have for teaching, is still there. And when the time is right, I’ll be back in the classroom, doing what I truly believe God has called me to do….just not right at this moment.