I walked out of my classroom for the last time today.
It was the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done all wrapped up in one… but, let me back up.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I has a baby girl in April.
Last year was probably my favorite year of teaching ever. I was in a brand new, amazing school with great staff and I had an exceptional class. I was also in 2nd grade after years of teaching first. I think I was amazed at my students’ independence level daily, and they were just the sweetest bunch.
I was so stressed about leaving them when I went on maternity leave in late April. They had made huge gains, and I wanted to make sure they continued to grow. I thought I’d spend the whole rest of the school year worrying about them. Other teachers kept telling me that the second I was holding my baby, I wouldn’t be worrying about my students one bit.
I thought that was impossible. My students were my life, and I spent almost every waking minute, and even many sleeping minutes thinking about school, teaching, lessons, my kids.
And then on April 21st, 2014, I sat in a hospital room exhausted, looking like a truck ran me over, holding a beautiful baby girl, and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
Nothing prepares you for the love you’ll feel for your child. Nothing. I thought that was so cliche when people told me things like that before I was a mom, but it is so, so true.
I didn’t forget all about my students, and I did wonder about them and hope they were growing, but it definitely wasn’t my top priority. I had 4 gloriously exhausting months home with my daughter because of the timing of her birth and summer break. Before I had her, I thought it’d be enough time. I thought maybe I’d be ready to go back, and get back to my passion.
It wasn’t and I wasn’t.
The last month of summer break, at least once a day, I would sit rocking my sleeping daughter and cry. How could I leave her? How?
August came and I spent a week setting up my room, prepping for those first few days, and trying to mentally prepare myself for spending 10 hours a day away from my baby when I had never been away for more than 2.
The first PD day was torture, and even more upsetting when I picked up my daughter from the sitters and found out she didn’t eat all day. The next day was the same, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it. School started, and the insanity of the first few weeks of school ensued… procedures, getting to know each other, new programs, assessments, procedures, procedures. But, on top of the usual beginning of the year craziness, I added pumping every lunch and prep, sleepless nights with a baby who refused to eat much during the day, and the anxiety and guilt of being away from my child.
It did get easier over time.
She began eating a little more, my firsties started learning procedures, I started drinking way more coffee and learning to function with little sleep, I stopped blogging, and things settled a bit.
But, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t have the time, energy, or ability to put into my classroom like I did before, and I was also missing so much of my daughter growing up. It felt like I was a rope in a tug-o-war game. On one side, my students, on the other side my daughter. I just felt like I couldn’t win no matter who I focused my attention on.
I wasn’t sure what do to because teaching has defined me for most of my adult life, and it’s something I love… but I love my daughter more.
Financially, though, I needed to earn some income, so I felt stuck until one Sunday in church. My pastor was discussing some church news and mentioned that they needed a new, part-time Director of Children’s Ministries. I thought to myself, “I wish I could do that.” but
knew thought there was no way that would work financially. Just at that moment, my husband leaned over and said I should look in to it. So, I did. I met with my pastors, and they agreed that I would be a great fit for the position. They offered it to me very quickly after meeting.
After discussing, praying, and really thinking, I decided to take it.
60 days later, here I am. A teacher without a classroom.
It’s such a bitter sweet feeling. I mean, obviously, I love my daughter and I’m thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that I am blessed in a way that I can work from home and spend so much more time with her. That’s what made this decision easy. I look into her face and see how much she’s already changed in the 8 months she’s been in my life, and I know that I’m making the right decision for my family, but walking out of my classroom today, I couldn’t help but pause and feel like I’m leaving a part of myself behind. As my sweet students hugged me as they left today, they each took a little piece of my heart with them. I will miss them. I will miss my classroom. I will miss their a-ha moments, their sweet, silly comments, even those behaviors that are oh so frustrating at times because that’s what teaching is all about.
I will miss all of it, but I won’t be missing my daughter grow up, and that was ultimately the deciding factor in this decision.
In my new role, I’ll still be working with kids, choosing curriculum, planning children’s events, and teaching often, but I’ll be working mostly from home and won’t miss a second of my baby girl’s childhood. As much as I love teaching, and as much as I’ll miss my students, I am 100% happy with my decision, and am thrilled that we can pinch our pennies a bit and make it work.
I’ll still be creating, blogging, and sharing ideas because it’s what I love to do, and one day I believe I’ll be back in the classroom, but for now?
I’m to soak up this amazing time in my little one’s life as much as I can because they’re only little once.