Thursday, August 28, 2014

back to school mama

I got a job.

There's no other way than to just come right out and say it.  Since I became a mama (7 1/2 years ago!!) I basically dreamed of being a stay at home mom.  I've gotten little glimpses here and there, staying home for a year with Andrew, then working part time for a year.  Then I got to take a semester off when Kerigan was born, and most recently we were blessed to become part of a new community and my husband's new job allowed me the freedom of being a substitute teacher.  Going to work whenever it was convenient for me.  Being able to feel like that stay at home mom I had always dreamed of.

I could take my kids to appointments whenever I needed to.  Not to mention going to my own appointments without having to worry about taking time off.  I took charge of Andrew's class Christmas party and glued twenty-five gingerbread houses together, made snowman cupcakes and got to watch the kids bring the gingerbread houses to life with candy and treats.  I got to take Andrew out to lunch during the day.  We could go to Daddy's school and surprise him anytime we wanted.  I made homemade minion cupcakes for Andrew's birthday and got to be the one to deliver them and help serve them to his class.  On the last day of school I helped with the class pizza party and got to watch my son interact with all the new friends he had made the past year.  I got to witness every special day and moment in both my kids lives the past year.

And you just can't put a price tag on that.  I was careful not to take it for granted.  I knew I was lucky, and those moments were sacred.  

And as it turns out, short lived.

So let's face it.  It's no secret that I love being a stay at home mom.  But... there's a neat little part of this story that needs to be told.  
With Kerigan turning 3 this summer, I knew she would be going to preschool and soon enough, Kindergarten.  I also knew deep down that while I would also have loved to be the "room mom" and plan all of her class parties, I just saw no reason not to think about going back to work.  I needed last year to get moved in and settled.  Unpack and feel more organized (even though we still have a long way to go!)  But there's only so much organizing I can do and I knew with both my kids in school I would feel the need to contribute to our family's finances.   Be able to help save money for our kids' educations, and have a little extra to take those Disney trips and mini vacations I so desperately love!
So, while I knew that me going back to work was in the cards, I wasn't really looking all that hard for a job.  I had the opportunity to sub in all the elementary schools in the district.  I had made friends with many of the teachers throughout the district, and of course we knew people through Craig's job.  But deep down I knew where I wanted to be more than anything was with my kids.  And somehow in the process of making this place feel like "home," I became attached to Andrew's school.

I'm not really sure why or how it happened.  I think a large part of it was that it was so convenient.  Right up the street from our house (5 minute walk, 2 minute drive).  Not to mention I immediately fell in love with the staff and principal.  With my husband being an administrator now (that makes me feel so old!  I can remember when my dad was an administrator and I thought it sounded so official!) we have had a unique opportunity to "hang out" with other administrators.  Andrew's principal (and others in the district) became our friends.  And Andrew's school felt more and more like "home" every time I walked inside.

So early one Monday morning when Craig got a text that a 4th grade job had opened up last minute at Andrew's school, I just couldn't believe it.  4th grade is pretty much my dream grade, and Andrew's school?  Well, I think we all know how I feel about that. :)

The principal wanted me to call her.  I was a mess of nerves.  It was so odd to me that while 2 years ago the thought of working made my stomach turn, now I was completely thrilled to be very possibly going back to work full time.  

So I interviewed on a Wednesday afternoon.  I sat in the interview with my other potential 4th grade team mates, principal and literacy coach, all of whom I already knew and loved.  And when the first question they asked me with a smile was why did I want this job and why at their school, I couldn't control my emotions.  And I got choked up!  In an interview, people!  And it could not have been more genuine.  It was the easiest question they could have asked me.  I had no trouble coming up with a list of reasons, and I told them their school felt like home to me.

And that was it.  An hour later I was walking out with a spring in my step, feeling pretty confident I had just sold myself.

The next morning I got the call.  I had gotten the job.  My dream job.  At my kids' school right in our neighborhood.  I couldn't think of one thing that could have been better than that.

Most of my friends and family, who know how much I love staying home, have been treading carefully the past couple of weeks as I've immersed myself into my classroom.  Since I was hired relatively last minute, I had to attend all new teacher trainings and didn't have much time to get in my room to unpack.  Yes, it was stressful.  Yes it took time away from my family because I had to go in on weekends just to get it done.  But this time Craig could bring the kids up to see me.  They had lunch with me and played on the playground, and it was just a wonderful feeling.  Being a 2 minute drive from home is such a blessing.  Everything about this job is a blessing.
(Helping mommy move into her new classroom)
My friends have carefully asked me if I survived the first few days of school.  I've been pretty reflective about how I'm feeling because it is so unlike me!  To say I was "burnt out" before would have been an understatement.  Teaching was getting so demanding, and I started feeling like it just wasn't "fun" anymore.  I was at a crossroads.  I was trying to figure out what else I could possibly do with my life besides teach.  I couldn't have put my finger on exactly what it was that was making me so unhappy.
But now I know.  

It was a mixture of a 45 minute commute, not being able to make close friends with people at school because we all lived so far away from each other, never seeing my husband, and not feeling like part of a community.  And now that I have all of those things back in my life, I just feel like a whole new person.  I know that sounds clique, but it's true.  I don't think Craig can believe that I haven't complained about going back to work.  I haven't been grumpy, or sad to leave the kids every morning.  I've never been happier to be working.  How could I not be with my son just down the hallway??  And like I told my friends that have asked how it's going... I have nothing to complain about!  It is such an amazing and refreshing feeling.
(My sweet mentor and friend is our literacy coach and she left me these beautiful flowers on my first day of school.)

I never would have dreamed that packing up and moving was exactly what we all needed.  I needed that mental break last year to recharge, to get excited about teaching again.  Because now I can see more clearly.  Now I remember why I became a teacher in the first place.
(Left on my desk by one of my sweet new students)

Sometimes it just takes a leap of faith to be able to understand what you need to fly.  And yes I just made that up.  But truer words have never been spoken.
My sweet friend Angie (she's a teacher too!) planned a little party for me!  We went out to Rube's (my favorite- grill your own steak place!)
And then we went to her house for a fire afterwards (this is Angie, my neighbor Heidi and me).  She surprised me with this cookie and some champagne! 
The kids had fun lighting their marshmallows on fire!  Ha!

So while I'm not a "stay at home" mom anymore,  I still get to be with my kids (Kerigan will be here in a couple short years!).  I still get to drop them off and pick them up, take them to their first day of school with my camera in tow, and while I may not get to be in charge of the class parties and join in, I can still peek in at them.  I won't have to miss the music concerts or special parent invite days.  Because I'll already be there.
(My buddy and me on our first day)
And there is just nothing in the world that could ever mean more to me.

And it did.

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