Saturday, March 7, 2015
A Mother's Guilt
Seven years ago I made a much different decision: to share a contract with another teacher at my site. I spent some time agonizing over that one as well. I had given birth to my younger son the previous year. When I put him in daycare at the age of seven months, he got sick on what seemed like a weekly basis. My husband and I were constantly having to juggle work schedules so one of us could stay home to care for him. Of course, we also had our older son, who was in first grade, to take care of as well. My stress levels reached an unprecedented high, and I came to the conclusion that I couldn't be both a good mother and a good teacher under these circumstances. Both jobs were just too important to me.
Unbelievably, it's been twenty years since I became a teacher. After I graduated from college, I ended up working for a financial planning company, which preached the philosophy of living your vision for your life. It was during my time there that I came to realize that I wanted to teach. I can still feel the excitement of getting my first job. I remember one day I was standing out on the playground watching the children play, and I thought, "I can't believe they pay me to do this!" (Truth is, they weren't paying me much!) That's how excited I was to be a teacher. I would work long hours and even went in on Saturdays. I didn't mind. I loved being a teacher. In some ways that excitement has never left me.
Over the years, though, the demands on my personal time have increased dramatically. Now I am a wife, a mother of two, and the daughter of an elderly mother. It's no longer just about me and what I want. I have to think about how my every decision will impact those around me. I feel guilty for wanting to return to full-time. My mother was a stay-at-home mom all her life, raising five children and helping to raise nine grandchildren. For her, it was enough. Why isn't it for me? What is lacking in me?
My eyes wander back to the list in front of me. Each position has its own drawbacks, and there is the question of whether they really exist or not. It's quite possible I am agonizing over a mirage. It's also quite possible that returning to full-time is a huge mistake. Talking to my younger son last night, he made it clear that he wants things to stay the way they are. I thought about our mornings, walking hand-in-hand to his class, wondering if I would have to sacrifice those as well, and once again I was left drowning in guilt. What I have should be enough.
So why isn't it?