Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is the Working Mom for Me?

The end of the school year is around the corner, as well as new changes to look forward to with the end of the summer.

I am in such a different place mentally this year than last year. Last year I felt so defeated. I was not happy with my job at all; I was seriously considering leaving teaching. We had just moved into our new house, but we were struggling in a way financially that we had never struggled before. Due to that I wasn't going to be able to go home for a year so I became homesick.  With those things stressing me out, it was a huge contributor to tension between Nate and me.

But I was set on taking this year on with a positive attitude and new motivation. I have been at my current school for eight years. One of the most disheartening things to me was that I wasn't sure I wanted to teach anymore, but really felt in order to feel if that was truly the case I owed it to myself to experience teaching somewhere else. I am going to get that opportunity next school year. I am actually going to get to experience two different school environments as I will be at the neighborhood community school on "B" days and the magnet school a mile away on "A" days. I am teaching six sections of Honors English 11, which is American Literature, in our school system. I love teaching American Literature and have taught it for the last five years so I'm excited about continuing with something I love and am familiar with. However, I am a little concerned about getting bored. Being on repeat six times may get a little boring, but I'm hoping with only one prep I will be able to put a lot of focus and creativity into my lesson planning.

At one point last year I was convinced I really wanted to be a SAHM. Even though that would take some things off my plate and probably lower my stress level at times, now that I am back in a more positive place, I really don't see that being for me. Not because we couldn't afford it but as awful as this sounds I'm not sure it would make me happy. I told my husband I think I'd just feel like the maid all day, constantly cleaning up messes, preparing food, and working on laundry.  Even though I'm sure I'd take the girls to go do stuff (even though with less money I'm not sure what), I'd think all of us would get a little bored and stir crazy, especially since they're older now and need social interaction.

Working and having my own career I see now is more important to me than I realized. I don't want to take anything away from those that choose to stay home, but for someone that was so torn between which was the right choice even though our finances didn't allow me a choice, I'm glad to feel more sure of my path as a working mom now.  There are still times I think maybe a different schedule or even part time would work better, and maybe if I ever get that opportunity I'll try it.  For now though, I'm glad this year reassured me of my enjoyment for my chosen career and my choice to be a working mom. I'm thankful I had such an enjoyable last year at my current school, but I am not one to stay standing in the same spot for long so I'm excited to see what next school year brings.

I was also asked to return to teach the English 101 class at the community college this upcoming Fall. I did it last year because we needed the money, but this year I didn't have to do it. It'd be nice to have the extra monthly income just so maybe I can overspend on my grocery budget without going into freak out mode or redecorate the room the girls are going to start sharing without stressing about where to cut money from to splurge on something. But I also wanted to do it because I really liked it. When I did it last Fall it was the first reassurance I had that I do still really love to teach. I was really torn on this due to the whole mommy guilt thing. However, because the class is right after work and only puts me home two nights a week about two hours later at six instead of four, I decided to go ahead and do it again. The extra money will be nice, we'll definitely be able to start Ave's college savings with her start of kindergarten now, it's a great experience for me, and dang it I can be a good mom as a working mom. I don't have to feel guilty that I have a career or that I do something additional like teaching this college class.

I think that's what this year was about for me. Last year I felt like I had such a thin grip on everything, even who I was. Go back and read my post from last year in the April-June 2013 archives.  This year was about proving to myself that I can balance the working mom journey and be content with it.

Did I always feel like I had it all together? Haha, no way. Did I get stressed and overwhelmed? Definitely. But I was okay. I didn't feel like quitting, giving up, or lost. I can work and still be a good mom to my girls. Even though there are so many ways I can improve as a teacher, improve as mom, improve as a wife, I found something I lost last year, contentment. I never realized until recently how valuable that is to not just motherhood but our lives.

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