Saturday, January 16, 2010

Never would have thought

Since Sassy was born, I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom. That was always the plan. It was something my husband and I discussed even before we were married -- that we both wanted me to stay home with our children someday, and that we'd be willing to make the sacrifices necessary in order to make that possible. We both had moms who stayed at home (mostly) while growing up, and felt that was important to both of us when looking ahead to the future of our own family. I know some are not as fortunate, and some choose other paths, but it works for us. :)

I taught elementary school before becoming a mom, and did really enjoy it. I was most certainly ready to get out by the end, and pretty fed up with the endless meetings, paperwork, and documentation that come with the job. I'd dealt with my share of irate, unreasonable, or absentee parents, and I'd gotten my fill of administrative "politics."

But, I do still miss the actual teaching part of teaching. I've even had a small seed in my thoughts of homeschooling Sassy when the time comes, but I'm not sure yet if that will come to fruition or not. I don't want to make that important choice based on my desires rather than her best interest.

For now, I'm just 100% enjoying where we are in life right now, and that includes me being at home.

And then the phone rang this week. The principal from the school where I used to teach said, "I have a favor to ask you, and don't say 'no' right away." Ugh... what was coming?

The short story is that, after a few hours of debating and thinking outside my comfort zone, I agreed to fill a long-term substitute position for a kindergarten teacher who is out on an unexpected medical leave. I've committed to one month, at the most. If her recovery goes well and she's able to return sooner, I let the principal know I wouldn't be offended. :) We also discussed that I cannot work past our agreed-upon deadline. I don't want to get into a situation of, "Oh, do you mind coming in just a couple more days? Just another week? Just one more?"

I only cover the morning class, which is wonderful. I don't think I could have done it full-day. We've pieced together family members who are willing to watch Sassy at our house every morning. This is fantastic, since she's not even awake when I leave for work in the mornings. I'm relieved that we've had to make very minimal changes to her normal routine. The only REAL difference is that I'm not the one here with her, but instead it's grandmas or aunts that she is completely familiar with.

I can't lie; it was flattering to be their first choice fill-in. It feels nice to be appreciated, and all of the other teachers (many of whom are former co-workers) have made me feel right at home again. I've gotten lots of hugs and words of encouragement. Everyone smiles warmly and says, "It's great to have you back!" I think what is most hysterical to me is watching former students pass me in the halls and whisper, "Hey, Mrs. _____ is here... is she back?" In a way, it feels like no time has passed.

The kids are delightful and precious. I've gotten a few hugs from them, too, and one little girl wanted to sit next to me one day. They do stretch my patience quite a bit in a couple of areas, but we'll get there. :)

The most difficult part so far has been putting everything back into order. Since the teacher was out so suddenly, and hasn't been in the classroom since before the holidays, things are fairly chaotic. I'm missing curriculum, portions of lesson plans, worksheets that were to be done, and other materials. Given my "type A" personality, organization was always a strong point of mine while teaching, and I had plans and materials laid out for at least a week in advance, always. Again, this is a unique situation, so it's not really anyone's "fault"... but it does make for some added challenges.

I think things will be much more smooth when the clutter gets under control a bit. I also think it will help the flow of our day significantly when I gain some familiarity with the new reading and phonics curriculum they've implemented this year, which is quite extensive. (Side note: I would love to know why curriculum writers seem to think half-day kindergarten has upwards of seventy minutes to spend alone on phonics. Perhaps it's been a bit too long since they've had to escort a classroom of five-year-olds to the restroom eight times in a morning, tie forty-seven shoelaces in an hour, and compassionately listen to a ten-minute story of how little Johnny's dog has a cold today.)

The mommy guilt isn't as bad as I'd expected during the day, simply because there is no time to think about it. Three days out of five, I have literally NO breaks, from the time they walk in the door to the time I drop them off for dismissal. But, it does hit a bit more when I get home. I eat lunch with my precious girl, and then it's time for her nap. She's been a little crabbier since this all happened, and I've noticed a few more meltdowns than usual. I wonder if this big change (in our world) is affecting her more than I realized. :(

It's only a month. We can do anything for a month! And, I do honestly enjoy it... but I won't be turning in my application for next year. :) I'll have fun with it while it lasts, be able to count the days, and will probably heave a huge sigh of relief when I scoot out of that building on my last day. I'll definitely be ready to go back to "just" a stay-at-home mom. That's my favorite job. :)

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