Tuesday, September 4, 2012
On Teaching, and On Staying Home
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.