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#TeacherMommy: The Best and Worse Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me

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I always knew I wanted to be a mommy.

Then, somewhere between junior and senior year of high school,  I decided I would become a teacher. (Like Totally!) As I worked through my undergraduate program, I realized that teaching was my passion and that I was actually pretty good at it. 😉 Turned out that years of bossy around my younger sisters payed off!

So, when I found myself pregnant in my 5th year of teaching I just KNEW my life would be PERFECT!

Teaching and motherhood, my dream and my passion, would work in Perfect Harmony.
I would spend my days inspiring  America’s youth with engaging and rigorous lesson plans and nights grooming my offspring into the model student… Yeah… teacher fairy dust was going to be magically sprinkled onto everything I did. I was going to not only inspire my classroom, but also my own children. I mean, just the sheer numbers told me things were going to be perfect. Women dominate about 80% of my field and just as many are probably mothers. If they were rockin’ it, then so could I!

In perfect harmony…

But as my belly started growing, my love for teaching started to wain…

The idea of changing lives AND changing diapers didn’t seem so appealing. It started to feel selfish...
How could I leave my innocent newborn baby in the arms of a stranger while I pursued my passions?  I began dreaming of becoming that fabled SAHM… 
Oh the mommy guilt plagued me even before I had a chance to hold my son in my arms.
So, when that 7 lbs 8 oz ball of fiery was born, I was smitten. 
I was basking in the glow of new motherhood. Exhausted. Exhilarated. Complete. I fell in love with first baby coos, tummy time, and soft arm rolls. Oh how, I LOVE soft arm rolls! But, instead of dreaming of staying home with my baby, I was looking forward to seeing my other 18 kids…
In perfect harmony…

I’m not sure if it was the loneliness of spending my days and nights with a tiny human who couldn’t talk. Or the delirium that comes with spending way too many hours with a b-pump… But as my maternity leave progressed on… I was ready to go back to school. I missed school. The routine of school, the certainty of school. I missed teaching  so much that I even started this little blog!  
And so I triumphantly returned and just KNEW that I’d go right back to being the most awesome-est teacher there ever was…
Except… teaching was kinda hard… actually ALOTTA hard!
I struggled with just the easy day to day teacher duties, like checking papers and setting up centers. My once clear, crisp, sharp mind teacher mind had somehow given way to a mushy gushy mommy brain.  
I couldn’t find enough energy to do the little things, let alone the fun things I used to do like classbooks, end of year performances, and class CD’s. I felt messy and disorganized. Follow through seemed like a joke. My poor kids! The teacher guilt consumed me. 
In perfect harmony…

I figured I’d return to my full state of awesome once the baby was finally sleeping through the night and I wasn’t preoccupied with the number of pumping sessions I needed. But as that first year progressed, things still didn’t get easier. Old issues (pumping and midnight feedings! Ph-uh!) were replaced with new stressors like mobility and Common Core.  
After a lonnnggg day of teaching (were school days always that long?) I’d rush home to get some baby snuggles and mash up a dinner of leftovers and some sort of microwavable food product. Then return to a disorganized classroom the next day, as an educator who was more ready for nap time then actual math time. This whole teaching and being a mommy thing almost seemed… unmanageable
In not-so-perfect harmony…
Well… here I am, 2 years later and no closer to finding the perfect union I was just so sure I would make between motherhood and teacherhood. It is a daily balancing act. I get asked all the time, “How do you do it all!?” The honest answer: 
I don’t… 
There are days where I am an amazing teacher with super engaging lessons and a flourishing classroom.  But those are the days where my kid is the last one being picked up in the afternoon. And then there are the days where too many worksheets dot my lesson plans for my taste, but I am busy planning that fantastic 2 year old’s birthday party.  Sometimes you just have to divide and conquer. Accept that you can’t be amazing at all things at once… My organizational system in my classroom has become even more important now that I have to split my brainpower. 
Oh… but that mommy/teacher guilt is always there!
Perfect example: 
At about 3 am this past Friday, my son awoke with a bloody curdling scream. A quick check with the thermometer confirmed my fever suspicions.  No daycare for this sick kid. But, wait… this wasn’t any ordinary Friday. This was Friday, February the 13th, Friday. The Friday before Valentine’s Day Friday. 
With heavy heart, and a toddler destroying my classroom, I set up for the sub. My kiddos lined up outside the classroom, hands full of Valentine’s day goodies and faces full of snaggled tooth grins. But as I announced that I would not be in that day (ME: their school mommy!) Disappointment washed over the room. To make matters worse… a sub hadn’t picked up the job. I was neck deep in a #teachermommy guilt cesspool. Pulled between the two worlds I love. 
And let’s not forget that mushy gushy mom brain (which pairs so well with that mushy gushy mom tummy)! I may not remember if the shirt I have on is actually clean, or if the classroom jobs chart has been updated this week, but my goodness… it has certainly heightened my sense for student needs. I have like a 6th sense of what students need from me now. It isn’t just about the academics like small group intervention and enrichment, but making sure the whole child is nurtured. It was like I had superpowers! 
And there is plenty of teacher dust… it just happens to be the kind that covers my furniture when I’m working on being an amazing mommy instead of an amazing housewife… 
My lesson learned… that somewhere between motherhood and teacherhood, I found crazy and never dull happiness. And instead of obsessing over a Perfect Harmony, I thank God that he thought me fit to be a  #teachermommy

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11 Responses

  1. I totally relate. I have two year old twins. My happy medium is teaching part time. I work everyday until noon. It's been the best of both worlds for me!

  2. I understand all you are going through…I was there once. Now I am the mother of 2 teenagers. I have found after all of these years that the only person that will know I didn't do the 'special end of the year' CD or Mother's Day project, will be me! It is about finding a balance……Good luck! Enjoy every minute of the toddler years……teenage isn't that far away!!!

  3. Right there with you. My daughter is 5 and in kinder in a different district. Mommy guilt because I can't volunteer in her class like so many other parents. Mommy guilt when she is picked up from After School at 5 or later. Mommy guilt when I can't help her Girl Scout troop. Teacher guilt when I leave as the students do to spend time with my child. Teacher guilt when my lessons aren't as great as they should be. Teacher guilt when I am tired from being woken up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or wet bed and couldn't get back to sleep so I am grumpy. Then I remember to hit my knees and talk to God as I know he will help. Roll on teacher Mommy friend….this to shall pass!

  4. Thank you for this very honest and transparent post. I have twin daughters who are almost 7. After 6 years of working full-time since they were born, I have never found the "perfect" balance. I have an amazing husband who helps in ways that many husbands don't (shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and so much more), and I've learned to take life one day at a time. My girls have spent hours and hours in daycare, and I am so thankful for the amazing teachers who have invested in their little lives. Now that they are enrolled at my school, we are able to share more time and experiences together. But even now, there are things that I miss when my class needs me, and things my class misses when my girls need me. Like you, I still feel blessed to experience the joy of both worlds!

  5. Thanks for sharing such an honest post. I'd like to say I have found that it gets easier as my kids get older but after changing schools and grades and having my children become pre-teens or teens it is still a struggle. The worst is running around like a crazy person – getting books and dollar store items and treats and my kids asking if it is for them – and I have to stop and look and realize that none of it is, ugh!!

  6. What a wonderful post! I currently have 3 kids under 5 and it can be so hard to balance everything. My position got cut to 60% this year which actually worked out great. Now I have a few more days with my own kids and still have my students. My schedule is a bit flexible as well so if I have to miss a day due to my own kids being sick, I can make it up with another day. For now it has given me the best of both worlds but it still isn't easy!

    Tara
    The Math Maniac

  7. What a beautiful, honest, and poignant post. I will be linking back to this post in a future blog post about balancing life as a #teachermommy– if that would be okay.

    Rachel
    thirdgradecupcakes.blogspot.com

  8. Oh my gosh YES! The guilt is awful. But…..not only does God give us the exact qualities our children need, but also our students! And a bad day in class is still an okay day. No permanent damage being done, lol! My husband is a big help with our 3 year old and house duties. When he can take her in to daycare, I'm at school by 6 so I don't have to stay late. And, my daughter's daycare does some amazing things and she usually hates to leave, so I don't feel quite as guilty staying until 4 or 4:30 sometimes. I appreciate my summers soooooo much more now! 🙂

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Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!

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