When I first went back to work, I was a pile of hormones, nerves, guilt, and anxiety, sitting in a rolling chair in my principal’s office crying. I truly believed, in my heart of hearts, that I was doing the wrong thing by going back to work, but that I didn’t have the choice to stay home because financially, we’d sink.
Christmas break rolled around, and I shopped for my little man, watched him learn to crawl and open presents, spent time with family, slept in… all of the things I would totally do if I were a permanent stay-at-home mom. Right? Oh, how I love to be wrong.
Summer has begun and I’m thinking back. Last summer, I sat at home recovering from giving birth with a newborn who was chillin in a bouncy seat while I folded laundry and watched daytime television. Yes, I had many sleepless nights. Yes, the baby needed to eat every freaking two hours because they grow every time they breathe those first few weeks. Yes, I was stressed. Yes, the baby cried for no reason (well, it seems like no reason, doesn’t it?). Yes, I feared he was colicky when he had stomach issues and we switched formula multiple times. But that was adjusting to a new normal. Those months went by really quickly. I enjoyed being home because it was the only time I could figure all that shit out.
Now I’m home with a 14-month-old toddler. Running around. Throwing food from his high chair. Laughing at everything. Mimicking words and sounds. Pulling the dog’s tail. Combine all of these things with the fact that I’m totally not used to all-day stay-at-home motherhood and a tropical storm named Debby that has me surrounded by closed, flooded roads and TRAPPED in my house for days on end. Cue stir-crazy paranoia.
My mom lost her job recently, which is awful and worth another post altogether, but why it is pertinent to this post is because she gave me all the supplies left over in her classroom. I could have stored these in my garage or in my house for the remainder of summer. But Lord of all the Heavens, I needed to get out. So I literally mapped my way around the flooded streets, left the babe with my husband, and drove a car full of boxes to my school the other day.
I breathed deeply. A drive alone to my place of work where things seem more normal.
One of the summer school teachers offered to send her students out to help me. No thanks. I’ll take my sweet time. And I did. I carried one box in at a time, through the door, down the hall, to my classroom. Four times. Then I moseyed in to find my assistant principal, took his keys, opened my door, returned his keys, took a trip to the office. You know, nothing I needed to do. Except it helped my sanity. I think I was gone two hours, but that little bit of time rejuvenated me. I feel so, so, so guilty for saying that.
Let’s face it: I’m meant to be a working mom.
I love, love, LOVE spending time with my kid, pinning all kinds of sensory play ideas, waking up at 9:30 a.m., pulling him out of his crib and snuggling and eating breakfast together. I really do love it. But at some point throughout each day, unless I plan something and get our asses out the house, it gets stifling. Not sure if that makes me a bad mother. But I do know I’m the kind of person that needs my own thing. Even though my own “thing” of teaching sometimes mouthy teenagers how to read Shakespeare isn’t always a breeze, it’s still my thing. I think what’s important to me is not only is it my thing, but every day it’s different. Yes, I have to get to school at the same time, but the lesson of the day is different, each student responds to it differently, and I guess, as guilty as it makes me feel to say it, sometimes I need those other people, other personalities, other adults and even other children, to make me who I am. Ultimately, working makes me a better mother who appreciates those evenings and weekends at home.
Photo Credit: womensdish.com