Maybe you can relate? I used to think that my students got the best of me and my family got the rest of me. While I hoped this wasn't true, this thought weighed heavily on me. I had no idea how much my unhappiness in the classroom affected them.
Being a teacher/parent is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done - on every single level, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. But it is not in my nature to give up, especially not on things that I'm passionate about. I fight for the things that are important to me. My students and my family are both important to me. I struggled so hard with divided loyalties. I tried so many ways to give my best to both of them. I turned myself inside out, often sacrificing my well-being to show up for ALL my kids - biological or otherwise.
And I thought I was doing an okay job. I was certainly doing my best! So that had to mean it was ok, right? Isn’t that what we say, “As long as you do your best, that’s good enough.” I didn’t understand the cost my family was paying as a result of my unhappiness & exhaustion until I left.
Within 2 weeks of not returning the following school year, my husband gave me the biggest hug and thanked me for not going back. He was working so hard to be supportive of whatever I decided, that neither of us knew the strain my unhappiness brought to our relationship.
My kids and I both LOVE that I get them on & off the bus. Before the end of first week of school that first year, my teary-eyed, oldest child told me how much it meant to her to be able to give ME a hug and exchange “I love you’s” before heading off to school each day. The three of us love sharing snack together after school and talking about our days before rushing off to after-school activities.
Then as I began really working my businesses, I explained to my girls that I was doing this for all of us - for myself, our family, & for them too. I want them to see that if they don’t like a situation they’re in, they have the power to change it. I explained that I missed teaching and that while I liked my new job, it didn't make me happy the way teaching did. I want to teach AND I want to be there for my family too. I want to do the bus, help in their classrooms, AND teach my own students.
At the end of that conversation they both hugged me and said, “Thank you for choosing us.” Ooof! That hit me like a ton of bricks. Did they feel like I wasn’t choosing them before? Honestly, I haven't had the courage to ask. Maybe someday.
Fast forward to last summer, I began to learn how my own personal transformation affects my daughters.
I'd been so busy (as we often are) that I hadn't noticed certain changes in myself until she pointed them out. She told me that she'd gotten so used to "tired, angry Mommy" that this new "happy Mommy" is kind of annoying. She went on explain that she's just not used to me singing and dancing all the time and telling people about what I do now. She explained that she's just not used to me being proud of myself and being so confident. "It's like you know you're enough now."
"Wow," I said. It took me more than a few moments to process everything she'd just shared. I AM proud of myself. I AM confident. I DO know that I'm enough. I didn't used to feel those things before at least not to the extent that my children could see it- not while I was so busy trying to be heard, trying to get my needs and my students' needs met, trying to keep up with all the impossible demands of the classroom and family.
It makes me feel so good to see how proud they are to tell other people about me, what I do, and why I do it. They were always proud to tell people that I'm a teacher, but this is different. Because I'm different. Now I KNOW I'm ENOUGH.
The results of this realization are still unfolding, but I do know one thing. My girls KNOW that they are ENOUGH too.
- * Above are pictures of our first First Day of School together. We were all so happy that I got to be a part of the First Day of School activities. This was the 1st time I got to walk them to the bus stop and wait with them, the 1st time I got to give them hugs and kisses right before they got on, and the 1st time I got to wave to them as the bus pulled away. The first time I got to do the First Day of School was when they were starting 2nd grade and Kindergarten. As a classroom teacher, having to miss these moments was just part of the job. We all still really LOVE that I get to do this now.
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