From the time I was in first grade, I knew I was meant to be a teacher. It is all I ever wanted to do. It easily became my passion. I loved teaching. The results blessed my heart every day. As life happened, I also knew I wanted to be a mom too. When my husband and I were pregnant with our first child, we did a lot of talking about what we wanted for our family. We prayed and discerned and decided that the best thing for our family would be for me to stay home with our kids. The idea of putting my career as a teacher on hold was a little scary, but being a mom was something I always wanted and I hoped that my other passion–teaching–would always be something I could return to. I remember the first Fall after I left the classroom was kind of surreal. The late Summer always reminded me of back to school time. It felt very strange not getting a classroom ready and preparing for a new year. As time went on, I didn’t have that feeling any more. My sole focus was on raising our family and teaching our own kids. My days were filled with playing, reading lots of books, dance parties, playdates, baking, kissing boo boos, and laughing a lot. There were also some really hard days where I felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I was worried I was screwing up my kids when I lost my cool.
When my oldest was in Kindergarten and my youngest was newly one, I started subbing on a very part-time basis. I volunteered in my son’s school and kept my feet wet in the classroom. As he got older, I started subbing more regularly. As my kids grew and I spent time in the classroom, the itch to return to the classroom full-time began. And the right opportunity presented itself this year and I have returned.
Returning to the workforce full-time was definitely met with a whole gamut of emotions and mom guilt, but also a sense of realizing my passions. For the first time in over nine years, I had to miss a well-child visit. My fully capable husband handled it like a champ, but I felt guilty that I wasn’t there. We have learned that all of the things I did around the house and outside the house still needed to get done. It has been a lesson of planning, organization and working as a team to do all the things. I am learning new tricks and hacks every day but I am realizing something, too: never judge until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
To all of you working moms out there, I see you. I see the exhaustion on your face as you leave your work and come home to still be a parent. I see the sacrifices you make for your kids. I see the hard work and planning that it takes to make sure your family has what it needs. I see the guilt that you feel for missing things. I see the balancing act that you are juggling as you work to make sure you are succeeding in your job and as a parent. I see the sticky floors and piles of laundry that can get done tomorrow because it’s just too hard today. I see the guilt you feel as a mom when you cannot be there for every event or appointment. I see the guilt you feel when you have to take time off because your child is sick. I see the lack of self-care because it seems that adding that is just adding one more thing. I see you.
To the stay at home moms, I see you. I see the sacrifice you have made to stay home. I see the loss in income. I see the exhaustion at the end of the day. I see the feeling of wanting to just veg or fall asleep on the couch when the kids are in bed. I see the balancing act you do with one child and then with multiple. I see the worry you feel when you are ready to go back to the workforce and the wondering if you will even be able to find a job as you have been away for a while. I hear the comments others make when they say, “oh you’re just a stay at home mom.” I also see the sticky floors and the days when you lose your cool because you are around your kids all the time and that is incredibly exhausting. I see you who rarely gets the chance or rarely feels the need to put on makeup or wear “real” clothes. I see you. I have been in your shoes. I want you to know that even when you do not feel like it, you are doing a great job
To all of the moms out there, just keep doing you and try to block out the unnecessary noise from society that tells us that we are not enough. Each one of us has gifts and talents to share with the world and remember that you are doing the very best for your family. You may not be the perfect mom, but you are the perfect mom for your kids. Your kids see you and they know that you are doing your very best. And on the days when everything is hard, give yourself grace to know that you are made for this purpose no matter how hard it is. On the days when you don’t feel like you are measuring up, turn to love. Show love, give love, receive love, and lead with love. If you can do that, you will be just fine. Our kids know. Even when they cannot eloquently show appreciation, they know.