ramblings of a teacher on leave | Teaching in the Tongass

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ramblings of a teacher on leave




Let's rewind a bit.

Last November, I had another baby. #2. After having him, I started to think about how quickly time had passed with Cheeks (baby #1) and how I'd been feeling like a bad mom after coming home from a day of teaching. I'd give all my 2nd graders the best of me and my own children the scraps (read: exhaustipated--too tired to give a poop). I knew in my heart my own kids deserved better. I knew I would regret it if I didn't do something about it. So, I started fantasizing thinking about what it would be like to not be a teacher next year (as in, right now). From about November to February, I had pretty much made the decision to stay home with my kids the following year. Now, hear me out. This was a pretty easy decision, but incredibly strange for me. Since I was about 8 years old, I've known a few things about my little type-A personality. I've known I wanted to be a teacher (check), get married (check), have a house in my hometown (check), and have 2 kids (check). Pretty basic, suburban American cliche dream right there. So, for me to suddenly realize that I wanted to be a stay at home mom (or really, work at home mom in this case), was very weird for me. Change? I can change my mind? Me? Noooo. I don't do that. Even my friends (also teachers) were a little caught off guard. I remember one teacher friend, let's call her Bibs, on account of the fact that she should wear them, asking me if I was actually serious about taking time off. Even Bibs didn't think I would actually do it, and I don't blame her. After turning in my leave of absence request in February, I kept it a secret. I told very few people. I was so scared to tell my coteacher. We were both hired at the same time 8 years ago and had developed that special bond that only happens when you're lucky (#sisterteachers is what I like to think).  So, when I went to her room to tell her one day during prep, I said, "I don't know how else to say this, but I won't be teaching next year." Phew. Why was that so hard? Her reply? "Me neither! I'm pregnant!" OMG. Relief, then tears. Lots of happy tears. I patiently waited for the leave to be approved by my district (we can take leave up to 2 years and still have the security of being placed in a job somewhere). Then it came and I was so. Dang. Excited. I even made Cheeks stop eating a muffin to pose with the letter so I could capture the memory.
Then, from about February to May, I started to think, "Maybe I'll stay home until both kids are in school." And then, without warning, this summer. "I wonder if I'll ever teach again?" So, my friends. I don't have an answer to my own question (shocking, I know).

What I do know is this. Teaching is hard. Harder than anyone knows. And the funny thing about it all? It's not the actual "teaching" that is hard. It's the other stuff. Constant changes (which I know are necessary sometimes, but c'mon...I just organized that program into a binder system last year...), those parents, those coworkers, those admin.  If you're a teacher, you know what I mean. We love seeing the kids "get it" and feeling like we had some sort of responsibility in that learning.  That's the passion in it all.  I also secretly (not anymore I guess) love that look I get from strangers when they ask what I do. No, not the one that thinks we're crazy and all they can think about is our summer's off (they're jealousy is completely obvious and if they only knew, if they only knew...). No, I mean the look that makes me feel like I'm a good person. The head-cock, "Oh I don't know how you do it! You are a saint!" look.  You know that one.  It's a silent society-pat-on-the-back to make up for all of the negative comments we get the other times from the nay-sayer teacher-haters. And if I took a leave of absence, would that make me a quitter? Would I be judged by my coworkers for leaving? Or worse, would they not take me back as "one of the gang" in a few years?  When friends that aren't teachers talk about their jobs, I often fantasized about having a cubicle job that I could just leave at the end of the day. Or a shift job. Is that crazy?  It sounds sad when I type it now. I think our spouses are about the only people that have a little bit of a clue. Even as a student teacher you think you know, but it's definitely not the same.  Not even close, really.

So, instead of returning to the classroom for my 8th year of teaching last week, I went camping. Yep, camping. I rented a cabin at this beautiful spot here in Juneau called Eagle Beach. As soon as I turned in my leave of absence request in February, I knew I would need a distraction for the days that I would normally be prepping my classroom and the first day of school, so I booked a cabin (you have to reserve months in advance or the spots get taken). While we were out there last week, I realized a few things. I LOVE my children more than I can even stand. It's pretty gross. Like, I cried like a baby poured my heart out to my husband while they were sleeping all cute in the sleeping bags and we were chatting on the cabin porch. I wanted to know why something so powerful and that felt so, well strong for lack of a better word, wasn't tangible. Thankfully, he didn't laugh at me, but instead agreed and started telling me about some studies suggesting something to do with love and all the unknowns about brains (and that's about where my brain turned off..."sciency stuff" past 8 p.m. isn't my thing haha).  It's so hard to explain and such an amazing experience to be a parent.  So, while we were out there to take my mind off of teaching, it became clear that I am on the right path for me.  I think that the common thread I have now with my old self is that I love kids. Whether they're mine or not. And right now, my head is full of wondering what is to come next and my heart is just plain full. I mean, how could it not be?
And because I'm a hopeless romantic...

SHARE:

10 comments

  1. Good luck to you in your time off!! You have a beautiful family & it is wonderful that you will be able to enjoy this time with them. I will be taking my third maternity leave starting in December & will not return for the rest of the year &I have the same feelings, I wonder can I go back!
    ~Jen

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so proud of you! It's ok to change our "plans"- it has been a realization of mine as well. I was nodding my head as I was reading about the "real" hard parts of being a teacher. I felt them all too and it's what made it not as hard for me to take a break this year. (And same as you- I'm wondering will I ever go back?)
    Here's to living the dream! ;-)
    xoxo
    Jivey

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jen,
    I am so excited for you!! I don't have kids yet, but I have always known that as much as I love being a teacher, I want to stay home with my kids once I do have them. Thank you for sharing your story with us! You are one blessed wife and mom!
    Lauren

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved this post! It speaks to the hearts of so many of us teachers with little ones at home. :) I'm on maternity leave right now myself, and I love that many teachers in the U.S. have the freedom to take a leave of absence with their babes and return to the classroom within a year or two. I also applaud those who feel called to give the work-at-home-mom thing a try! That's quite a brave adventure!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great decision! I stayed home with my kids for 9 years, and it was the best for all of us! Of course, I was lucky to be able to stay home, and so are you! Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congratulations! I was fortunate enough to get 2 years leave when my daughter was born. I would have taken even more in the blink of an eye if I could have!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Congrats! I too left the classroom when I had my little ones. It can be a hard decision when you love teaching so much (I also always knew I wanted to be a teacher and loved my job). Now my kids are 10, 7, 6, and I can say I just started really itching to get back in the classroom a few years ago. So far, TPT has filled that need for me to be connected to my professional world, but I'm not sure how much longer that will last. Enjoy your time!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jen,
    Ever since this post came up in my bloglovin' reader, I've been wanting to get on my computer and comment. I could have written this post. The things you feel and think are things I went through (and continue to go through). After my oldest (3) was born, I took the year off that our district allowed and then after that resigned to stay home full time. I'm now home every day with our two girls (3 and 1) and love it. It is hard. Don't get me wrong. There are MANY days when I think about how much easier it would be to be with a class of 28 kids instead of with my 2. It challenges me in so many ways. But I wouldn't change it for anything. I figure teaching will always be there - yes it will change, yes it might be hard to get a job again, but it will be there. My kids at this age won't always be there so this is where I need to be. I discovered TpT and Instagram and all the teacher blogs after I left the classroom and it has really helped me to stay up to date and connected (maybe more than when I was in the classroom) so you are already ahead of the game with those connections and income. I hope it is everything you want it to be and on the tough days you remember how important your new full time job is and that you have lots of other teachers turned stay at home mommies out there to support you!!

    Sara
    Sara J Creations

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good for you! It is ok to change your plans. You have to do what is right for you and your family! Best of luck in this new journey!

    Jamie
    Teaching Tidbits and More with Jamie

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your honest feelings! I wish you nothing but happiness and success defined by your own terms :)

    ReplyDelete

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
© Teaching in the Tongass

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blog Layout Designed by pipdig