To My Fellow Teacher Moms,
As we embark on a new school year, we start to have anxious dreams, extra long to-do lists, and early wake up calls. Growing up, I remember a Staples commercial that played this time of year with parents celebrating and the Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” playing in the background. It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some parents, but the truth is that going back to school can bring up an array of emotions for many of us.
Like our students, us teacher moms are sad to see summer go, but for different reasons. In the summer, we establish new routines with our children. This may include play dates, story times, and trips to the Lowcountry Children’s Museum. We get to be there, without distraction and unapologetically, for the big moments: first steps, potty training, developing speech. We create inside jokes with our littles. We practice a mindful nonchalance that doesn’t exist when we are in teacher mode. We feel like we can finally focus solely on our kids.
It is a kind of motherhood utopia that can only exist because it is temporary, and because we glorify it all year.
Once school returns, we get that all too familiar feeling of being torn in two opposing directions. If we spend that extra hour preparing for school, we feel like our kids are missing out. However, if our lessons aren’t as prepared as they could be, we feel like our students are missing out.
There is more take-out and screen time at home, and more cutting corners on lesson planning for school than we would like there to be. At times, it feels like we can’t win.
We are constantly giving and giving. And alone time seems like a rare and precious gem. I find myself appreciating sitting in silence. A lot. In my car. In my empty classroom. At a traffic light. Wherever I can steal a peaceful moment to myself.
Sometimes I want to just be, instead of always doing, especially always doing something for someone else.
It is like our day is broken up into two shifts…teacher by day and mom by night. Both busy, and both demanding. Someone always needs us, and we feel like we are letting someone, or something, down.
My teacher mom friend looked at me the other day and said something so simple, yet so profound, “this is hard”. And she is absolutely right. THIS time of year especially is hard.
Throughout this teacher/mom journey, it is so important that we make time for us.
Before we transition from our first shift as teacher to our second shift as moms, it is important that we find a way to harness that quiet time and peace, even if it’s just for increments of those five minutes. In our car. In the school parking lot. Or our driveway.
The place doesn’t matter, but the act of being does. I have taken to gratitude bullet journaling after a day at school. It’s just a simple and subtle way to close out my teaching day on a good note before I go into round two, mommy time.
We have to also remember that everything is about perspective and choice. Although these jobs don’t come stress or guilt free (how nice would it be if they did?), we are blessed because we are changing lives on the home front, and also in the work world every single day. Everyday we leave a legacy, and we get to choose what that legacy looks like. We are choosing to empower the minds of the children who have been entrusted to us. We are choosing to take an active role in creating the next generation and helping to shift a society. That my fellow teacher moms, is pretty amazing work.
When I had my daughter three years ago and was sad about going back to school after my maternity leave, a respected friend said to me, “I know that this is hard, but for whatever it’s worth: I’m a better mom because I’m a teacher, and a better teacher because I’m a mom”. Turns out that it was worth a lot because her words have always stuck with me. I taught for nine years before ever having children. I don’t think I could have ever understood what it was like to take care of someone else’s child until I had my own. Likewise, my background in education and teaching has helped me establish routines and discipline at home that I wouldn’t have otherwise been introduced to.
And so my friends, we are blessed. Exhausted, overworked, stressed….but blessed, nonetheless.
Because we are always giving and giving, it is important that we realize how significant it is for us to receive. For me, it always comes back to the question: How do we find a balance so that we can be who we need to be for the children in our lives? If we’re not taking care of ourselves, we are not benefiting anyone–our school family, or our own family. If being a teacher doesn’t fit for you right now, the profession will always be there later. And if staying home isn’t your jam or isn’t an option, find a way to make peace with that, because there is no need for additional guilt.
All my love and blessings for you this school year. I am grateful to share this journey with you, to know that I am not alone. Be gentle with yourself,you have chosen a life that centers around serving others, and sometimes you need to stop and serve yourself first. Best of luck on this wild ride. All the children in your life are lucky to have you.
A fellow teacher mom