Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Teaching, and On Staying Home

teaching

Sometimes in the middle of my day I'll look at the clock and think, "oh, I'd be in 4th period right now." It's weird how ingrained some things become without even realizing it. I taught for almost six years, and still, in my second year of staying home with Henry I think of it all the time.  I loved teaching. Like any job there were some days that dragged on; hard days, terrible days, days that made me question why I was ever a teacher to begin with. But those were few and far between, and for the most part I woke up every single morning excited to go to work.

Having a job that changed every day was great for me. I never knew what to expect and I spent most of my days laughing and talking with my wonderful students. I adored teaching teenagers, and while sophomores made up the bulk of my day, each year I always got to teach one special senior class too. 

I can remember when I started. I had the worst butterflies that felt more like a three-hour long nausea as I got ready that morning, anticipating that first bell. Luckily I had group of new teachers starting at the same time, so we all commiserated together, high-fived at lunch ("we're halfway there!"), and could be spotted slumped in our chairs at the end of that first day, emotionally drained and exhausted. It was exhilirating though. Not just the job itself, but the idea that my primary responsibility was to expand these little peoples' minds. I had the ability, every single class period, to positively impact up to 35 kids. And obviously some kids checked out some day, other days I probably reached only one or two...but even if I did just get through to a couple, that was still amazing to me. I loved the possibility each morning held as I wrote out that day's plan on the board. I loved learning new vocabulary words right along with the kids, I loved exploring new authors and stories, and I even somehow loved doing the same thing hour after hour.

When I first made the switch to stay-at-home Mom people would ask me, "Aren't you going to get bored? Don't you feel weird 'wasting' your college degrees?" This would bother me at first; I'd take offense to it, but then I realized that everyone has an idea what success or happiness is, and sometimes people think their way is the only way. Sure, I went and got my Bachelor's and Master's, and sure I taught for a good chunk of my twenties, but I don't see this as lost time. If anything, I feel like a better mother for having these experiences, and for being able to inspire my own children to follow their passion in life, whatever that turns out to be.

It's weird though when something is a huge part of your identity and then it's just gone. I was a high school English teacher. That's what I did. And now I'm a Mom staying home with my son. And that's what I do. I found great joy in that first job, the first "real" career I ever had, and I find joy in this new job too. Much to the surprise of even myself I'm hardly ever bored, and also much to my surprise there are some days I truly believe working outside the home would be a lot easier. Some days are hard and filled with toddler tantrums, some days I feel disconnected from the rest of the world, but like any job some days are harder than others. Luckily 99% of the days are wonderful though and most of all though I'm grateful to be able to stay home right now. Life changes, we change. My college self found it hard to imagine what life would be like in ten years, and now that I'm here it's hard to imagine myself in another ten. I may go back to teaching one day, but for right now I'm perfectly content teaching my little class of one. And so today while we were reading in the big green chair in his room I had one of those thoughts: "right now I'd be starting 6th period with my sophomores," and I smiled to myself as my littlest student nestled into me and said "one more Mama," grabbing for Goodnight Moon once again.

32 comments:

  1. Oh I love it, such a wonderful perspective. I plan to be a work-from-home mama so this is great to read about and prepare for.

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  2. I admire you for teaching high school students! It is an age group that I would like to reach out to in my field (nutrition) but I'm not quite sure I could handle them!

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  3. So beautiful, Danielle. Henry is one lucky boy (and you're one lucky mama).

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  4. You look like a kid in that picture! Hahah. It's the same with my best friend. She's also a teacher and totally blends in with her students.

    I know what you mean about people thinking you're "wasting" your talent. Most of my fellow female law students wouldn't dream of sacrificing their careers to start a family so young. When I graduated and went straight to being a SAHM (despite job offers) I could feel the brows raising from a mile away. But there's nothing I'd rather be doing than spending my days with my daughter, and I'm so grateful to have this opportunity.

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  5. so interesting what you said about how being a teacher was your identity, who you were. That's exactly how I felt when I was a young gymnast, and when I quit, I felt lost. It's so amazing that you've been able to find that new identity in being a mom to Henry. I never really had a mom, so I feel that I can safely say that being a mom will trump any other job that you will ever have...I wish my own mother would've understood that. Henry's a lucky boy.

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  6. I love this. As a teacher (trying to be, at least) and a woman who hopes to be a mother one day, I think about these things a lot. Teachers here are allowed 12 weeks off after their child is born. I can't help but think that if I ever have children, I would love the opportunity to stay home for at least a year. It's such an important time in a person's life! I'm glad that this path is working for you.

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  7. I am a teacher, but I stay at home now too. I love being able to spend time with my little guy every day, but there are definitely days where I miss the interaction in the classroom with students and with other teachers throughout the day. However, I know that is something I can always go back to later and love that I get to spend all of these moments with my son now while he is little!

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  8. I love this post. One day I'll quit my job as a teacher and become a mama, and that will be infinitely better, even though teaching is so great. This is exactly what I needed.

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  9. LOVED this post. I will be a new stay at home mom in October and I got a lot of comfort from your perspective! So glad you are enjoying your time wtih your little man.

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  10. i love this post and so glad you wrote it!
    i'm not married yet but i like to think about it. whether i should stay at home when i have my child or continue working.

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  11. I am a stay at home Mum, with several degrees. The only thing I hate about my new role is when people ask "is that all you do?"

    http://iliska-dreams.blogspot.com.au/

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  12. I loved reading this post. I'm studying to become a primary school teacher (I still have 2 years of studying ahead of me) and I'm really looking forward to teaching. Although I know it will not always be easy, I have a boyfriend for three years now and we're moving in together (next week!!!) and ofcourse I think about the future and having kids, I hope I can be a stay home mom too one day, I think it's an incredible job!! And the most fulfilling of all.

    love, Saar.

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  13. It's funny, 6 months ago when I went on maternity leave (highschool English also) I thought a year maximum is all I would want to be out. Teaching defined who I was. It was what made me feel good about myself and guided most of my interests. Now I couldn't imagine doing anything other than being a stay at home mumma. I might go back to supply work next year, but only so I have the option to say 'no' to working when my little man needs me.

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  14. thanks for this post danielle - i've started teaching two classes beside university on monday and i am so excited how i'm going to manage it. good luck with your "new job" and i guess it would be pretty nice for many pupils when you come back one day :)

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  15. I needed this! As a wanna be stay at home mom who had to start work teaching yesterday, I needed a bit more positivity after making it through the first day. I kept finding myself doing the opposite of what you were thinking- "right now my lil one and I would be making lunch together" and "ohh it's 2:30, she'd be singing and calling my name after her nap to come get her". I just have to keep reminding myself that at the end of the school day I get to come home and be a teacher to my favorite lil student ;)
    Enjoy these days!

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  16. Good for you!!!!! I'm also a stay at home home that gave up my career to stay at home with my (now two) beautiful children and get asked the same things as you. Although it was hard at first. I wasn't used to being home alone all day with a newborn and often found myself looking at the clock and thinking about what I would be doing. But as each day goes by I'm more and more content and assured that staying home with my children was the best decision I ever made!!! Success and happiness truly do mean different things to everyone!! Thanks for this post!!

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  17. Oh, I just feel the same way. Teaching high school English was such a huge part of who I WAS before having m daughters. But our former students will always remember the impact we've had on their lives, and there's so much for us to teach and learn everyday with the wee ones now.

    Sending you high-fives for THIS job! ;)

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  18. I think there's this strange misconception that being a stay at home mom means you laze about all day or whatnot, or that it just sets women back to the 50's.. sure, there may be some stay at home moms who still have nannies that do the bulk majority of the childcare, but I think SAHMs such as yourself, who seem to be extremely hands on and nurturing, is truly wonderful! Instead of having to entrust that the people in daycares or what have you are going to positively shape your child, you get to have a very direct role in that; how rad! Being a mom I imagine is hard no matter what, and I'm sure there are plenty of moms who would love to have the ability to stay at home the way you do with Henry. I think any mother who adores and cares for their child, wanting what's best for them and raises them in a conscious manner is outstanding. Who should judge or care in what way this is done? Whether you get to be with them 24/7, or have to work in a professional field and then come home and take on the mom-role. Besides, ultimately, at the end of the day, it's YOUR life and YOUR child. And it seems like you're doing a stellar job of it lady :)

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  19. this is such a huge subject in our household. we both feel that one of the parents should stay home with our little one when they come... but the decision on who has been difficult. We both love our careers and feel as though they are a large part of our identities. We've even talked about changing our work schedules so that he can stay home during the day and I'll be there in the evenings, but then we'll never see each other. Thanks for adding some insider perspective.

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  20. I love this post. I'm an English teacher, too, and often wonder if I would stay home with my daughter if I had the chance. I'd love to spend my days with her, but I also love my job (and having a job). The idea of "wasting" my degree is definitely something I've thought about, and I hate that! How could any education be a waste?! Good for you for doing what you love and loving what you do!

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  21. It's so interesting to see the other side. I just went back to work as a high school teacher a few weeks ago after having our second little one. I'm still struggling with whether it was the right decision. I'm glad that you are content with yours!

    Here are a few of my thoughts on the difficulties of being a new working mom if you're interested: http://aforeverhouse.blogspot.com/2012/08/on-working.html

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  22. I, too, am a high school English teacher and am currently in my 6th year. You captured it all beautifully. The ups. The downs. The everythings that go along with a career in which you are constantly surprised and always challenged. Motherhood, I am sure, is quite the same. You are an arm to grab when the climb is rocky. A finger to point in the right direction. A hand to push when it's easier just to stand still. You should certainly be proud of both of your careers!!!

    https://heyteachenglishteacher@blospot.com

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  23. I've started reading your blog recently but I don't think I've commented before, but I love your posts! I hate it when people consider not working "a waste of education". Way to teach self-improvement, by making it all about money. I only went to vocational school but people always asked me how much I made and I was honest about it so when I decided to stay at home I got a lot of heat for "not helping my husband financially" even though he wants me to be at home and raising our kids. What a strange idea...being the one to raise your own babies lol

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  24. I don't think, that I would like to be a teacher in a "normal school" but at a language school would be great! That's why I am thinking about taking the TEFL and teaching abroad, maybe South America :)
    Sandra

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  25. I AM a teacher and a new mom. I would give ANYTHING to be able to stay home like you do. But my husband also teaches, so we do not make enough money on one salary to pay our bills. I am horribly jealous of stay-at-home moms.

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  26. I can't tell you have timely this post is for me. I've been struggling with my stay at home mom identity but really, its the beat job I could ever ask for.

    Great writing!

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  27. danielle, though i am not a mother, i so appreciate this post so much! thank you for your voice. :)

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  28. What a beautiful post, it's sums up the joy of being a stay at home mum perfectly. I gave up my job and although I was worried it has been the best decision I ever made...for me! Some days are much more difficult than work but I feel so much more connected to my son. Thank you for writing about your experience of it.

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