Monday, August 24, 2009

The Day Before School Starts

It is the last day before school starts. The house is clean (even vacuumed) although as I write this the kids are playing, which means they are getting out more stuff that will need to be put away later. As Erma Bombeck said, cleaning your house while you have small children is like shoveling the sidewalk while it's still snowing.

Not that I'd know anything about snowing. I think it will be near 100 again today--but that's to be expected in Texas at this time of year.

I am trying to think about how to write about what has been going on with me in a way that will be at least moderately humorous and not come across as mentally unstable so that everyone would be all, "Now THAT is a woman who does not need to be teaching America's Children. She is about halfway off her rocker."

I think I should just go ahead and tell you how I've been feeling instead of prefacing it so much. The more I say "I'm not crazy"--well, I think you know how that sounds.

I read all the Facebook posts this morning about the moms crying all the makeup off their faces when they took their babies to school. I have always wondered what is wrong with me when I hear about moms crying--surely my heart is a small black lump of coal for not crying? I have never cried, not when either kid started preschool or Miss P started kindergarten or at the END of kindergarten. Maybe because they were both excited about school and willing to let me leave. Miss P told me last year, "You can go now, Mom," when I'd been there about five minutes and no other kids were even in her class yet. So I did, feeling that it would be fine because my kids are just like that . (I don't know what I did to get two of them.)

I still feel great about Miss P starting 1st grade. She has the same teacher and classmates because they loop K-1st. I feel good about Mr. Blue not being in preschool, but rather being watched by one of my best friends when I am subbing. She keeps several kids around the same age and is going to do plenty of educational activities with them; plus our parenting philosophies are almost identical (makes sense because we helped each other develop our parenting skills by endlessly talking about it when our oldest girls were toddlers). I know he will love being at her house and the main thing to learn at his age is social skills, sharing, lining up, etc. and there will be plenty of that. He is excited about it.

I also feel relieved that the after-school care for Miss Pink has been settled. On days when I sub, unless I am at her school, I will need thirty minutes to an hour before I can pick her up. (I have to finish leaving the classroom ready for the next day and also, the secondary schools dismiss later than the elementaries.) I had asked a mom from her class to take her home with them on those days, but I learned at the sub meeting that I am allowed to use the after-school care at her school for a reduced rate. Normally it is $15 a day for drop-ins, but I get to pay $5--exactly what I was hoping to pay the mom! I will still make enough money that I am not just barely paying for day care and they have an excellent program with lots of fun activities.

So all that is good, but I have been struggling with the whole idea of becoming a working mom. Not so much for right now since I can pick and choose the days I want to work, but I do overthink and project into the future. So that means I am worried about using up all my energy and patience on other people's children and not having enough for my own. Right now when I sometimes get tired and snappy before bedtime, I think,"Well, at least they had me at my best all day." I haven't taught in so long--and I didn't teach long enough to be a "veteran teacher" who has all the routines down to a science. I just don't really know how hard it is going to be. (I also know I am making it harder on myself by expecting to be super-stressed. I mean, I am going into a classroom of kids, not OGRES!)

I guess I am also grieving not being able to stay a SAHM. (My brain doctor, as I call her to myself, tells me this is completely normal.) As I said, I knew I wanted to be a SAHM when I was teaching and then going to grad school, so I didn't get invested in either of those as a career. Justin kept telling me I didn't have to go back because the company was supposed to make more money every year. Then this little thing happened--you may have heard of it--called a recession. If Justin is going to retire before he is 80 we need to have some more money coming in. (If any of you are able to stay home homeschooling and growing your own food, that is great but those are not choices I was able to do while staying home. Basically we sacrificed for me to stay home while the kids were small. I don't regret it but I think it would be unwise to continue barely making it financially, being unable to plan for the future.)

I do feel that I need to go back to work. All the signs are pointing in that direction. I would need to do something after Mr. Blue started school anyway--I am not much of a PTA volunteer, it drives me crazy to plan fundraisers. I am more of a "bring brownies" kind of person. As my dad wisely told me, the longer I wait, the harder it will be to get back into it. Once I do go back, I know the "teacher" part of my brain will click on and it will be okay. It always does whenever I am in charge of a group of kids. But part of me is sad that I don't get to be a SAHM forever. I thought it was going to be my reward for losing so much sleep when they were babies and that I would finally have enough time to write a novel. Now I'm worried I won't have time or energy enough to do the things that are important to me. Being a good mom is at the top of that list.

Okay now I have made myself sadder than when I started. It still is a good day although I don't have time to tell you what I planned to, about how low the expectations are for subs, which cheered me up when I heard it. "Don't fall asleep in class"? REALLY? I THINK I can follow that rule.

Unless of course I can wear pajamas while lying on a comfy couch in a dark room while the kids watch a movie and let me doze off. I may have done that just this morning.



  1. You are going through all of the thoughts & fears I had a few years ago when I was finally offered a classroom again.

    And it was (sometimes still is) difficult, but being honest about your feelings (tired, grouchy, stressed) helps as does just walking away from the brain-draining stuff and giving yourself permission to enjoy and breathe.

    You can do it, and I get the impression you'll be happier than you imagine. :D

  2. It is always a struggle to find yourself at the brink of a major change in your life. I remember when I went back to work, I was terrified! But, in the end I knew it was the right thing to do, as you do as well.

    Whatever class you are in each day, they are lucky to have you. Showing your heart here can only help you direct that at a classroom.

  3. I fired two people a couple weeks ago for sleeping at work. Both of them denied it, but later one admitted, "Well, I did put my head down on my desk now and then, but it's not like I was SNORING or anything."


  4. I don't have any wise words, other than that I don't tend to cry on first days either... though i will cry at the patriotic portion of a laser show projected onto a mountain. Hmmm.

    I hope things go REALLY well this year for all of you!!!

  5. That sounds like a tricky stage to get through. You're bound to find a good balance between "working mum" and "mothering mum"!

    Depressingly, when I go to get a job when my kids are both school age, I have NO career to return to. So it'd be working at a checkout or something like that for me.

    Sigh. You'll find your groove!

  6. I think the lesson here is - be a sub forever! ;)

    I can totally appreciate how you must be feeling about launching back into your career. I am thankful I have a few more years to worry about that transition (I hope!).

    Take heart knowing lots of moms are rooting for you and sending more positive vibes than you'd know what to do with anyway. It will be different and sometimes not easy, but I suspect it will be all good when you come out the other side.