So much has happened since I stepped into a classroom in 2011.
A decade later, I’m stepping away.
This past year has put many things into perspective. Priorities have shifted. Teaching, in the normal sense, has become almost unrecognizable. I leaned towards the changes and worked my hardest to support my colleagues as we shifted from hybrid to virtual to hybrid and back again.
I walked into my current school almost 6 years ago. I was hired when I was pregnant with my first child. I started the school year 9 months pregnant and gave birth the Saturday after the first week of school. A short 6 week maternity leave later, I was teaching 2nd grade as a new mom with no sick days for the remainder of the school year. I continued to work on my Master’s in Reading, had a second child, and finished my program in 2019.
When I envisioned what my adult life would be, this is truly it. Two kids, a husband I adore, a house with a nice yard and a career. Notice the order. In my visions, having children was always at the forefront. I imagined myself as a mom–taking care of my kids, planning playdates and hosting birthday parties. (All the fun stuff!)
In reality, teaching came before everything else.
I had to balance everything else around my teaching life. Even though, as the years went by, I got better at setting boundaries and not doing school work at home, the emotions and weight of my day spilled over into my home life. I felt like I was never the mom I imagined. Instead, I was tired and stressed out with little patience left for the precious few hours I spent with my own kids each weekday.
But, I made amends with that. I’m extremely fortunate to have a strong support system–grandparents, an amazing babysitter, friends–that would step in for my kids when I couldn’t.
During back to school season, when I was running around getting ready for the first day of school and open house, my parents would take my oldest son on a special birthday outing.
In November, while I was preparing for parent-teacher conferences and turkey-themed activities for my students, the pang of guilt that I wasn’t spending time getting ready for my son’s Thanksgiving weekend birthday was hard to ignore.
At the holidays, when I’d be wrapping gifts and preparing what I needed for a pancake breakfast for my class, my children’s sitter was planning a fun day of crafts and Christmas-themed snacks.
These moments have passed and they’ve gone so fast.
Like many of you, the pandemic (though extremely stressful) was a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I got to slow down with my kids and spend more time together than ever. But, once school started, it was back to the grind. We rushed to get back to normal without trying to incorporate any of the parts of pandemic life we were enjoying.
I switched to a new role this year–Reading Specialist. I really thought moving from the classroom would be the change I was needing. It has its challenges but it was nowhere near the amount of work caring for 20+ students day in and day out requires. I’m not sure I would have made it through this whole year without that move. But, when January rolled around, I started feeling done.
I spent a lot of time not doing my Reading Specialist job this year. I had to fill in for teachers who were quarantined or had COVID. My teaching life was coming full circle–I was back to being a substitute. And you know what? I didn’t mind it. I love the classroom. And I truly hope to return some day in some way.
But for now, I’m stepping back. My oldest will start half day kindergarten this fall–a day I have dreamed about since I found out his due date. I can’t wait to be there when he gets off the bus and hear all about his day. My younger son will be ready to start preschool–an experience my older son didn’t get due to the demands of working full time and the pandemic. I get to experience my dream come to fruition–being a mom–first and foremost.
The classroom will still be there….
childhood is fleeting.
I realize how privileged I am to be able to make this decision. I know many teachers are struggling to keep going, especially after this insanely difficult year. I hope if you are feeling done, you have the opportunity to rest, reset, and make a change that will improve your mental well-being. <3 I will be here continuing to support teachers in any way that I can.