The day I received the phone call to come and sub at my children’s school it dawned on me I hadn’t been in a classroom for 8.5 years! I had gone in to do Islamophobia sessions and worked with my own children but hadn’t done a whole school day since before Manessa was born.
I hadn’t planned to be a stay-at-home mom for that period of time. It just happened that way. I’m sure people wonder what kept me at home for so long. I was just so attached to my kids. I didn’t feel comfortable sending Manessa to daycare. There is nothing wrong with daycare but I just couldn’t do it. Then when I felt I was just about ready to get back to work and she was in school full time, we had Malik. So I started that whole process all over again. By the time they were both full-time, they were in 2 different schools 20 mins apart. One started at 8:15 am and the other at 9:00 am. I couldn’t commit to subbing let alone working full time. Instead, I spent my days driving back and forth between school, errands, and extracurricular activities.
I’m grateful every day that I’ve had the luxury of staying home. My children would often tell me they loved how I was always available to them. I was at every field trip, every performance, Valentine’s Dance, Halloween Dance, Mother’s Day Tea, always around if they didn’t feel well. It was literally a phone call and I’d be there in minutes to pick them up. They knew many of their classmates didn’t have that option. I think they appreciated it. Kids have a weird way of expressing gratitude sometimes.
Over the past 3 years or so I found myself falling deeper and deeper into a rut. The feeling is hard to explain. It’s like being lost in your own house. You know the house; room by room; but you can’t seem to find anything in it. My husband and I took the business route once I was home and I was busy. Being bored was never an issue but I wasn’t fulfilled. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I did but it just wasn’t enough to get me up in the morning. This was reflected in the quality of my work. Seemingly simple tasks would be imperfect because I just didn’t put my mind and heart into what I was doing.
They say being a stay-at-home-mom is a full-time job. That is true BUT, there is no year-end bonus or acknowledgment for doing a good job. When I was a teacher I got daily confirmation that I was a great teacher. Students drew me pictures, parents raved about me, and colleagues loved working with me. Perhaps I got equal acknowledgment at home but I just didn’t see it. Maybe I was stuck on the fact that those things only come from the WORKPLACE.
Another struggle I had that I’m sure other stay-at-home moms experience is the guilt of not contributing to the family financially. Although my husband reassured me that I was contributing by taking care of our family I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I should clarify that I am actually a work-from-home mom. I do some work with my husband’s engineering firm. BUT STILL….I was stuck on the fact that this only comes from working OUTSIDE the home.
I thought about applying for jobs so many times over the past 8.5 years.I’d have days where I’d be really motivated. I’d sign up to every job listing website and skim through endless job listings then eagerly check my inbox to see how well the A.I. matched my education, work experience, and their employment opportunity. I did apply for some, but seriously who wants to hire someone who can work from 9:30 – 2:30 M-F? Even when I found a job that might work, I ended up with a case of “imposter syndrome”. The job could be perfect for me, but my inner voice would talk me out of applying because I didn’t trust my own skills and experience.
When it came to this subbing job, I contemplated applying. I can’t even comprehend why. What is more ideal than a flexible teaching job?! NOTHING! With so many years of being out of the workforce, I lost my confidence. I never thought that could be possible. Teaching was my calling. Since I was a small child I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Before becoming a teacher I taught swimming lessons, I coached the swim team, trained junior lifeguards, and spent a few years as a Juniour Leader. It was in my blood. How could I not feel confident about something that was this much a part of me?
Fast forward to September 21st, 2021. It’s 7:45 am and I am driving with my kids to school. I suddenly become overwhelmed with emotions and questions. I’m holding back my tears. My kids are so excited that I’ll be at school with them, I can’t let them see me unravelling. Am I ready to be in a classroom? Do I still have the same passion for teaching I had before? Do I still have patience for young children like I did when I was 8.5 years younger? Is this really how I want to spend my time? Have I come too accustomed to my freedom during the school day? Will this choice affect my children? Has my experience as a mom made me a better teacher? The most pressing question for me as I made that 35-minute drive was… Have a made a big mistake? Was waiting for this exact moment a waste of time? Should I have moved on to something else?
I walk down the hall towards the classroom and I can feel every heartbeat. There are a few moments I spend alone in the class. I look around and take it all in. The little desks, the colorful posters, tiny lockers, and I can’t help but smile. As the wide-eyed students of the Kindergarten class started coming in, and I introduced myself I instantly started to feel like a teacher again. As we had our first lesson I started to feel more comfortable and feel like I might actually still love teaching. Finally, as the day came to an end and the students tell me they enjoyed having me in their class I started to feel that passion for teaching coming back. Felt like me again after so many years.