Mamapedia City Voices highlights the inside scoop on your city by selected writers, from up-and-coming mom bloggers to well-known mom experts.
When Your Life Calling Changes
I liked being a teacher. I thought I was competent. For seven years I defined myself as a teacher. I stayed late, happily changed bulletin boards, graded papers, and answered parent concerns promptly. I took naps when I was tired and enjoyed friends and family on the weekends. My life was full. I was married for most of the seven years I was a teacher and between the demands of my job and my husband’s job I still felt like we had time to spend together. The balance was maintained. Then I got pregnant with my first child. Soon after the birth of our son my husband’s job moved us to another state. The timing was good for me, as well. I had planned to take one year’s leave anyway. I began to lose my recognition as a teacher.
Though it was a struggle in the beginning, I earned a new identity, that of stay-at-home-mom. The years slipped by too fast as we added another child to our family, and before I knew it, the seven years I had been a teacher now equaled the number of years I had been a mom. The life I had spent as a teacher could only be found in foggy clouds of my memory.
Then I was confronted with the unthinkable: my baby was going to kindergarten. A strange twist of fate and the kind words of others helped to land me a temporary job: kindergarten teacher. I was going to fill a fall semester maternity leave for the teacher in the classroom right across the hall from my son’s kindergarten classroom. How perfect was that? I would return to teaching, and my sons would be in the same school as Mommy. My youngest son and I started kindergarten on the same day.
I was sad that my child had reached this milestone without consulting me, but I was also excited to try my hand at teaching again. Then the stomach started churning, and the nerves kicked into high gear. Was I ready to be a teacher again? Would I remember what to do? What if the kids didn’t like me? What if the parents didn’t like me? What if I taught the kids nothing? What if they ran wild throughout the classroom?
Thankfully I did not forget how to teach. I did not forget classroom control. The kids liked me. The parents liked me (I think!). The kids even learned some things. Teaching is in some respects, like riding a bike. You never forget the basics. Things were not running on full cylinders right away, though, as kindergarten is a very special grade. However, a routine was established, and we moved forward.
What I had not banked on, though, was the upheaval being a teacher would bring to my family. With the demands of full-time teaching came severe exhaustion. I dealt with five year olds and then went home to deal with a five year old and a seven year old. I was constantly surrounded by children. There was rarely any peace, and even when there was, I had the nagging reminder in my head that I had to get up and do it all again the next morning.
The easy balance that I had maintained between being a wife and being a teacher so long ago had changed. At one point in my life I had defined myself as “teacher.” I then defined myself as “mom” when I phased into a new chapter. Now I didn’t know what I was anymore.
While I had never been a Martha Stewart when it came to housekeeping, I could usually keep my head above water when I was home with the children. When teaching again, the laundry piled high and the kitchen filled with clutter. But even worse than household cosmetics was my change in mood. I was very irritable. I had exhausted all of my patience at school and had limited amounts left for my own children. The Mommy guilt was rising. I was a good teacher, but not great. I did not have the extra time or energy to expend on the class as I once had. I was a good Mom, but not great. I was running on empty.
By mid-October I started to get a better grasp on myself. The daily routines of school and family were becoming more predictable, and I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore, but it never became easy. I truly tip my hat to working mom teachers. What a difficult job they have. I respect their ability to find balance. I cried when I left my kindergartners in December. We had formed a bond. For myself, though, I never found that perfect balance again. I learned that I could not be a great teacher and a great mom at the same time. Maybe I wasn’t disciplined enough, but I learned to be honest with myself. I learned to accept my shortcomings.
In the spring I subbed, when I wanted to work. I never take for granted that I have that option. Now what? Now I move forward. I am not sure where I am headed and what the next chapter of my life will be called. Child, Student, Wife, Teacher, Mom? I will find the perfect balance for my life, whatever that may be. Early in my life I had been called to be a teacher. Then I was called to be a mom. I could not weld the two together well. Could I try again? Yes, and I might succeed. But for now, I will be searching until I find what steadies the scale for my family.
Marcy is a wife and mother to two wonderful boys, Connor (8) and Luke (6). She is currently substitute teaching on her schedule and pursuing a passion for writing. She lives in Bridgman, Michigan, near the shore of Lake Michigan
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