Me and Mary… about 6 years ago.
I didn’t plan on being a SAHM (stay at home mom). I really didn’t. From the time I entered Mrs. Kramer’s Kindergarten class, I knew what my future held. I would be a teacher. I would be a fun, dynamic, engaging teacher. I would not pass out packets of dittos. I would be like Mrs. Bennett, making learning as real and tangible as the peanut butter sandwich she used to teach us about fractions in the third grade. I would be encouraging and demanding like Mrs. Cole, who taught me everything I ever needed to know about the joy of writing. I would be a teacher who would win awards and be well remembered by her students.
I completed my degree in May of 2000 and accepted a position at a school in a, well let’s be honest, rough area of a large city. Quite a stretch for this country girl. I’d have to say it was a very eye opening experience for me, working in a school where the doors were kept magnetically locked. I grew up in a place small enough that such things were never even thought of! Nothing in my life had prepared me for the world I was entering.
I was young and brave. I jumped in feet first into this exciting teaching experience. I loved it. I loved my class. Twenty sweet little fourth graders just waiting to learn. I was thrilled to have my first classroom and poured myself into the work without reservation. I did all I could to make a magical world for those kiddos. As we went along, I learned their stories and came to love them even more. I put all of me into that classroom. I was the last to leave the building most days, carrying a bag of work home with me. I moved up to the fifth grade with my little class and found that it had expanded to 27 students. We had two amazing years of learning together that ended with a bittersweet goodbye and me crying in the faculty bathroom. I still love those kids dearly and pray for them. They have rewarded me with occasional letters and e-mails updating me on their lives. I often wonder if they know what a blessing they are to me.
I quit teaching in the city that year. Eric and I wanted a family and a long commute didn’t really suit a working momma. I looked for work in our rural community. I cried in August when the buses rolled out onto the roads and I didn’t have a classroom of my own. I took positions substitute teaching and eventually took a job managing a pre-school. I had high hopes that it would be a great place for me to continue to teach and for the baby we were expecting to spend the days. A few weeks into my work there, we lost the baby.
I was utterly devastated. Losing our little one made me reevaluate a lot of things. When we found out Mary was on the way, I was a different kind of momma. I was overprotective, nervous, joyous, amazed and completely devoted. I started really considering staying home with my little one.
The preschool where I worked helped push my decision over the edge. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the way I hoped my little one would spend her first years. I couldn’t imagine sending her somewhere and missing her important little “firsts.” Would someone else be the first to see her smile?
I jumped into being a SAHM with both feet, much as I did teaching my first class. Only, it was very different. I hated being a SAHM. I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise, but I really did hate it. I was a teacher. How could I give that up to be a housewife?! I was the first of my friends to do so, and I had nobody to talk to during the days. I was very lonely. I remember one day when I pulled the refrigerator out and scrubbed every nook and cranny for about two hours while listening to talk radio. It wasn’t much fun, but I didn’t know what else to do.
The babies kept coming and my life became increasingly busy. I quit washing behind the refrigerator. Don’t look back there, ‘cause you won’t like what you see! Eventually, I found a few friends who stayed at home with their littles. I also found some great blogs that helped me to see my life in new ways.
Looking back, I can see that becoming a SAHM who loves being a SAHM was something that just took time. I had prepared for my career for years. I had training. Being a mom meant on the job training because there is no other way to learn. In the first few years of my life as a mom, I thought I knew a lot. The longer I’ve been in this business, the more I learn and the more I know I need to learn.
I’m not the mom I thought I would be. Staying at home isn’t at all what I thought it would be. Somehow, I have settled into this life and I have even found my own special little groove that I fill quite well. What once felt a bit like a cage has become wings to me. I have freedom to experience the joy of raising my kiddos and seeing their firsts. As I discovered the joys of motherhood, I also discovered an amazing and rewarding way of life.
It has been a long and sometimes difficult journey to find my way as a mom. I suppose it’s that way for lots of moms… and dads. I’m so glad I stuck it out. That young, brave teacher has been replaced by a slightly older and wiser mom. She’s no less brave and ambitious. She’s very dedicated. She is teaching and making a difference in lives, just not in the way she had planned. Sometimes a change of plans is a very good thing.