A little over a year ago, I was blessed with the most amazing gift; my sweet baby boy. I was a first grade teacher at the time and really couldn’t have asked for a better job. My students, coworkers, administration, parents, everything. It was all wonderful. I had worked so hard to get where I was and all my dreams had come true. I LOVED my job and I still don’t know how I got so lucky. Corny, but true.
While I was pregnant I was determined to be THAT mom that does it all. Works full-time, takes care of the house, is a loving wife, AND raises an amazing child. I thought, “So many people I know do this. If they can do it, so can I!” I was doing everything the way I was supposed to…in this era. I was committed to my decision of being a full-time working mom and I was determined to be successful.
Now fast forward 9 months later to the birth of my son. The moment I lost all that confidence in being this “perfect” mom. The thought was completely overwhelming. I couldn’t imagine letting that helpless, precious child out of my sight. As my maternity leave quickly passed and it was time to get back to work, I sucked it up and reminded myself of the thousands of women that do this every day. I kept reminding myself, “If they can do it, so can I.” So I did it.
Everything went fine. We made it work. I hated leaving my tiny baby every morning, but I did it. My husband and I were tired every. single. day., but we got through it. (Thanks to our parents for the loads of help!)
As the school year went on, time felt like it was flying by and my baby was growing so fast. I could deal with the exhaustion and busyness of all of my responsibilities, but I couldn’t accept the lack of time I was getting with my family. Call me selfish, but I wanted MORE time with them. I COULD NOT imagine spending the next 20 years of my life feeling this way. I enjoyed being at work and teaching 21 first graders every day, but I yearned for more time with my family and to be there for every new thing my baby learned to do. I wanted to be the one he spent his days with. I questioned whether or not the time I was sacrificing to be at work was worth it.
That’s the question that many answer yes (understandably so), and many like myself, answer no. I don’t think either answer is wrong. We all are doing what is best for ourselves and our families. For me, I wanted every day to be THAT day that I looked forward to. And for me, that meant I needed to figure out a way to have more time with my family. I had known in the back of my head what I needed to do, but it broke my heart. It would make life harder in some ways, but ultimately better for my family in many other ways. After much indecisiveness, I chose to go with my gut. I chose to leave my job as a teacher once the school year came to an end.
At first, I felt like a failure. I couldn’t be THAT mom that does it all. I’ve realized now that everyone’s happy place looks a little different and it may even change over time. For me, right now, I want to focus more of my time on being a mom. That’s how I want to spend my days. That makes me happy and will make my family happier. This decision didn’t come easy and took lots of planning with my husband to figure out how we can make it work. I believe anything is possible if you just set your mind to it.
I will miss teaching, but I’ve reminded myself that I can always be a teacher later, in a different season of my life. There will always be first graders ready to learn. On the other hand, I will not always have a one year old waiting for me to make him lunch or take him to the park. I won’t always have a sweet smile looking proudly up at me as he pushes his lawn mower down the sidewalk. I won’t always get to hear that adorable giggle as I’m being told to wear a bowl on my head while getting sunglasses pushed on my face. And the snuggles. I hope those don’t ever stop, but just in case they do I never want to miss a single one. I will not always have a baby that is completely dependent on me. I will never be able to come back to this moment in my life. For me, those are the days I want to have every day and I’m willing to do whatever I can to make that happen.
I am only at the beginning of my new journey. I plan on working part-time, because money just doesn’t grow on trees and unfortunately, as you know, you need lots of it to live in this world. I’m just happy with any amount of additional time I will gain. We may have to live a little more frugally, but money can’t ever buy these moments that I will get to cherish forever. I know I won’t regret any sacrifice I have to make for those priceless memories. My family is truly all I need.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard