If you didn’t know, before Olivia was born I was a teacher. Eric and I always talked about me taking half a year or a full year off of teaching nad be a stay at home mom. Once we found out we were pregnant, Eric and I decided I would take a full year off of work. The county I work in will hold our position for one year. We figured that year would give me the chance to decide if I wanted to be a stay at home mom.Well, now is the time that I need to let my school know if I will be going back next year. And it has been such a hard decision.
I was a teacher for 5 years before taking a leave of absence. Yes, there were hard days – lots of them. But I loved it. I had so many kids that made a huge impact on me, and I hope I made an impact on them as well. When I took a leave of absence I was not sure if I would like being a stay at home mom or not, but I love it. Being able to spend my day with Olivia and watch her grow has been such a joy. I can’t imagine dropping her off at a daycare and not being there for her.
I never imagined myself as a stay at home mom. In fact, I never understood why people who had a college degree would not use it and stay at home, until now. I hate admitting this but I somewhat looked down upon stay at home moms. Now I have come to realize they might have the hardest job out there. And just how closed minded I was.
This week my Assistant Principal texted me asking about my plans for next year. And this got me thinking. Do I go back and miss out on parts of Olivia’s day or do I stay at home and no longer teach? I told her I’d get back to her – even though deep down I knew the answer.
Teaching is a hard profession. Teachers aren’t rewarded monetarily but instead are rewarded with the smiles of the students in their class or the look a student makes when something truly “clicks.” They are rewarded when the student runs in and gives a good morning hug because they missed their teacher overnight, or with the many handmade love notes. If you’re lucky, like I was, you get amazing parents that let you know just how much you’re valued. And although this was enough for 5 years, now that I am a mom I have to ask myself – is this still enough?
My county has recently been all over National News because of their leadership, or lack thereof. This year they decided they did not want to honor teacher raises. Not only are they not honoring the raises, they handled the situation very poorly. There was no bargaining with the teachers and a lack of respect for what we do each day. A teachers day isn’t just the 8 hours in the classroom. I typically worked a 10-12 hour day when I was a teacher. Whether this was grading papers, preparing lessons, responding to parents and administrators emails, the list goes on – I always had something to do. Not only do teachers work hard, we spend so much money on our classrooms and our students. I was constantly buying new resources for my class to use, new books for our library, things to keep the excitement alive.
As the district took away teacher raises, teachers began thinking about the extra time and money spent on their class. As this was happening in my district it had me thinking about many things. The most important question I had was “Am I valued enough to leave my daughter and go back to the classroom?” And to answer this, I don’t think I am.
When it came down to making my decision to go back I texted a close teacher friend. And I told her my dilemma. I told her that I can’t imagine leaving Olivia. But that I also can’t imagine saying “I’m not a teacher.” She had the response I needed. She said: “you will always be a teacher.” And luckily this is true. I can take time off to be home. Teaching is the kind of profession that you can leave and go back to at any time.
So for now, I am going to be a teacher, but to my daughter. There are so many things I want to teach Olivia. I am going to teach her what it means to be kind to others, sign language, how to show you care for others, her ABCs and numbers, and most importantly watch her turn into an amazing little girl.
One day, I will step back into the classroom, and work with the students who have made such an impact on me. Hopefully, by then the teaching profession will be valued more than what it is today. But for now, I’m going to be a mom and a teacher to my little girl.