Some of you may not know this, but my blog has been running on auto-pilot for the past few months. Why, you ask? From the first part of September until the first week of November, I was out working full-time in the “real world” for the first time since December 2000 when I left my teaching position…
This past June while my husband and older son were away at a youth camp for church, I had this C-R-A-Z-Y thought that entered my mind completely out of the blue. I had this feeling that I should do some subbing at our boys’ school this upcoming school year. I really didn’t want to do it or even think about it, so I immediately put it out of my mind. Many years ago I was “burned out” on teaching from all of the hours I put in and stress that I was under, and once we knew we were ready to start a family and that our plan was for me to stay at home as a mom, I resigned my position. I have been so happy and content in my job as Mom, Wife, and passionate about my various volunteer roles in life (the main one being a volunteer at their school!), that I didn’t see a need to rock the boat.
Needless to say I didn’t tell my husband about this idea when he came home from camp because I didn’t want to have this “thought” be out there in the open because he might think it to be a good idea. About a week later, my husband tells me that he was thinking I should get on the sub list at our boys’ school for this school year. What?! I told him it was actually funny that he said this, and I fessed up to the random thought I had been avoiding and was in denial about. I decided that I would think about it.
Think about it, I did. I decided that I really had no excuse or reason not to. Nevertheless, I dragged my feet on continuing to “think” to make sure I was good and ready until I honestly felt I was content about going forth About three weeks later, I finally sent out an email to my son’s former 3rd Grade Teacher, who is now in an administrative position at the school, to ask if they had a need for any additional subs. I received a reply back with a “We’re ALWAYS looking for good subs. You’ll hear from our Office Manager in the next few days.” Perfect! I was all set to finish out the rest of our summer until school began in a month. I could do my usual thing and be available to sub here and there and somewhat on my schedule, unless a last-minute sub was needed. (Screeeeech…here’s where the story takes an unexpected turn)
A couple of days later I am waxing my mini-van in our garage in the July heat and humidity—I am completely crazy, I know—when I took a water break and checked my email. I received an email from the school’s office manager who I was expecting to hear from regarding paperwork that I needed to fill out. My heart pounded when I read the email, which didn’t say what I was thought I was going to read. It stated that one of the Kindergarten teachers was going to need to be on maternity leave this fall, and the administrators would like me to come in and talk with them about the possibility of taking on this position. While my heart was still pounding and hands now shaking, I called my husband at work. We both agreed that it couldn’t hurt to get some more information about this position and that it really could and would be a good thing for me to consider taking on this position for a few reasons: It is at our boys’ school; I know many of the staff and parents there; I had taught Kindergarten for three years before; This would be a good test run to determine if I ever would want to go back to teaching (I have leaned towards not ever going back, but hadn’t fully shut the door on this issue).
Two days later I found myself in a meeting with both administrators at school, one of whom I know very well, as I used to volunteer weekly in her classroom, and the Head of School, whom I had met a few times. I won’t go into detail and bore you, but let’s just say the meeting went very well, was enjoyable, and filled with excitement on both of our ends. Even though I was very nervous about taking on this endeavor, I felt so at ease with everything and the level of support I already had at that very moment. I was also getting an opportunity to have a “behind the scenes” look at the curriculum and my own boys’ school for six to seven weeks!
Again, forwarding through with the story…about three weeks into the new school year around the end of August, I went in and did some observing and shadowing with the Kindergarten teacher—first half days, then whole days for another week. This allowed me to get comfortable with the routine, and the students to get used to my face. I was simply referred to as a volunteer in class until that last day before her maternity leave started so the kids did not have any anxiety. My first day of teaching the class officially began on September 10th.
Yes, the L-O-N-G hours of teaching was underway. Contrary to what most people think, it is not just a job that you do while the kids are in your classroom. Outside of teaching, it includes planning, meetings, parent communication, bringing work home to do, plus more work at home on the weekends. Oh, and when you’re sick, you get to plan for a sub, too! (Yes, I got sick with a horribly sore throat AND laryngitis during the week I had to complete report cards and was barely well enough to hold Parent/Teacher Conferences the following week.) The stress I had experienced so many years before came back to me—and this time with having my own children to continue to be Mom for. I naively thought I could have our boys do their homework and “hang out” in my classroom until it was time to go home. That lasted two days. I had to enroll them in our school’s after-care program. They went from having a mom who picked them up from school, had a carpool schedule with their friends’ moms, and who sometimes surprised them with freshly baked cookies when they got home from school, to being the last few kids to get picked up at 5:30 when after-care officially closed. I even only had to walk across the hallway to the cafeteria to pick them up, too, but I used every last moment that I could. Some evenings, they would have to stay with me in my classroom until almost 6:00 because I wasn’t quite finished with my work.
Our household and way of life at home completely changed. My husband (who works long hours during the day—and works until the wee hours of the morning at home a few nights a week once the boys are in bed) would often come home from work before I did with our boys. For the first time ever, he drove carpool two mornings a week, and he had to pitch in with extra chores around the house that I would normally do, and many nights got started on dinner. When we did “cook” at home, it was “bare bones” and frozen things from Costco, but many nights we would end up having to eat out or bring in. To be cost effective, it was many times fast food. The grocery shopping was done when I was desperate (GASP…and without coupons!) or on the weekends. The house suffered from lack of cleaning and organization. The laundry was a continuous battle. Let me pause here. I sound like a complaining and whining baby with what ALL moms who work outside of the home do day in and day out, and this is what I used to have to do before we had kids when I worked. I will address this in my lessons and appreciation a bit!
The worst part…our boys were unhappy. They have never had to share me with anyone or the world before. They always got “my best” and now they were getting “the leftovers” or what there was even left to give, if any. Our ten year old, who has never been very affectionate, gave me more and lingering hugs and made comments on an almost daily basis for about three weeks: “I don’t like you working, Mommy” or “I like it better when you stay home” or “Please stay on the couch and sit with me. We never get to spend time with you anymore”. Those comments were like turning a knife into my heart. One evening at bedtime during the end of September, I was talking to him and telling him that we only had one more week before our Fall Break from school, when we would take our much-anticipated trip to Disneyland. After that I reminded him there were only three more weeks of my teaching left, and then I would be done teaching and home again. He replied, “Mommy, I don’t know what I’m looking forward to more, going to Disneyland or you being home with us again.” I cried and right in front of him and for two reasons. First, it obviously broke my heart. Secondly, it was the sweetest thing EVER to know that I rank up there with Disneyland. How cool is that?!
Needless to say, our family was very happy and ready for November 5th, my first day officially being back at home. This was a really great lesson in so many ways for the four of us. We feel VERY blessed that I am able to be an at-home Mom. The boys have an appreciation for me and for all that I do (I am guessing my husband, too). I love being able to have the time to do those “little extras”, not only here at home, but at our boys’ school—I felt like I was missing out on helping the boys’ teachers in their own classrooms. I have always told our boys how hard teachers work—now they see it firsthand. My husband and I don’t know how families where both spouses have to work full-time do it, day in and day out. Then, I think of those single parents, too. We are in awe! I also can see how working parents struggle to help their kids with homework, check their backpacks, or even sign and return papers.
We know that my working-full time is not ideal for our family at this point in our lives. I also feel as though I can officially close the door on my teaching career. For all of the time, effort, energy, and passion that teaching requires, I simply do not have it in me. Of course, my perfectionist ways are not conducive to teaching—at least on my end of things—which is one of the main reasons I left even before I had my own children. With this recent teaching opportunity, I had kind and positive feedback. That was very rewarding to hear, and affirmed my hard work and long hours! I found our boys’ school to be the “real deal” behind the scenes and was thoroughly impressed! Throughout all of this, I had such support from administration, staff, parents, family, and friends…especially my husband. I am truly blessed!
This has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience! I strongly believe that God orchestrated this entire situation, starting with the seed that was planted back in June for me to go on the substitute list. Everything fell into place from there and was truly meant to be. I couldn’t have planned things better myself! I am not “scared away” from being in the classroom and am actually going to go on the regular substitute list starting in January—but only on a daily basis here and there and when our family’s schedule allows. My passion for helping teachers and their school continues, has never wavered and is strengthened, if anything, after my recent teaching experience—this is just another way that I can help!
Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey and family’s lessons in appreciation and thankfulness! I know it was a long one, but it has been a great opportunity for me to reflect back on these past few months and just B-R-E-A-T-H-E. This has also been an excellent way for me to get my creative juices flowing with my blogging again. I was so far-ahead this summer with getting my ideas written up to keep the momentum going on my blog while I was teaching, that I sadly don’t have any extra ones “in the hopper”, ready to go. In between the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas, I hope to keep up and make at least one post and hope to stay on my regular bi-monthly Tuesday schedule. I am certainly thankful for the opportunity to have blogging as a fun and creative outlet as an at-home mom!