Saturday, April 5, 2008

Stay at Home vs. Working Mom Part One: My Story

I have been thinking about this for quite some time. You see, I was a stay at home mom with my first two children. Really, stay at home is not the correct term for what I did. I volunteered for lots of church work (day camp, VBS director, children's ministry work, etc.). Anything I could volunteer for to keep me busy, I was on board. When my first child, Gabe, was one, I decided to try my hand at being the Mother's Morning Out Director at our church. I started the program (which was an incredible amount of work on my part) and I was in charge from the get-go. Soon after we started this program, I started back to school to get my teaching degree and then found out I was pregnant with Zane. I had lots on my plate, but I still considered myself a Stay at Home Mom. My children went with me to work (2 days a week) and Jim kept them at night for me to attend classes at a local college. In a year and a half I had my teaching certificate and begin teaching part-time in a private school. I really wanted to teach in public school but had a hard time getting a job in our county. After that awful year of private school, I swore I would never teach in private school again and I quit. At the last minute, I interviewed for a position teaching part time 4 year old kindergarten. I didn't get the job because someone coming back from maternity leave interviewed for it too and she was offered the job. But I was recommended for another 4K position and I accepted this job. I was hired on a Wednesday afternoon and school started the next day. This was a very overwhelming event in my life. I had no lesson plans, no ideas, no assistant had been hired, and 20 kids coming to my classroom the next day. This was in August. In October, I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. That is when I had a hard decision to make. Continue to work (it took me 2 years to get in the public school system) or stay at home with this baby. Jack was born on June 1 and school ended the week before. I worked until it was time for me to go deliver (planned C-section). I struggled through the whole summer (the short 2 months we had out of school) with the decision. Finally, I decided to go back but this time I went back full time (2 half day classes) with 40 kids in my class. I worked and nursed and pumped and I was exhausted. I had never known how exhausted a working woman with 3 kids could be. But that year I was pooped. I never cooked and I crashed most days when I came home. We ate out almost every night. I had 3 kids at 3 different places and I was running myself ragged. But I decided if to go back the next year and work full time again. Two weeks before school started, I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child. I was thrilled but didn't know how I was going to do it with 4 kids. Maci Clare was born in March and I took the end of the school year off (with the exception of the last week so I could do home visits and paper work.) I loved being home with the 2 little kids. I started to pray about babysitting and what we were going to do in October. I still did not feel I had a clear answer from God. So at the end of May, I told my principal I was coming back. I was happy being a teacher. Wasn't that what I had worked so hard for. I wasn't willing to give up my job just because I had another baby. He was really quiet and I didn't understand at the time. After summer started, I realized how stressed I was about going back to school. The thoughts of leaving Maci Clare and Jack again, lesson plans, bringing things home, screening kids after school, all the other after hours work that a teacher has, not to mention the fact that I was driving 30 minutes one way to work and that didn't count to the time to drop Jack at the babysitter. The 30 minutes was just the straight shot to work. Then my answer came in the form of two things. My babysitter moved 5 hours away. And my first born son decided it was time to tell me that I was a much better mom when I was staying at home. I returned to the school July 25 (the day all the principals came back from the short vacation that they have) and tucked my tail between my legs and told him I wanted a year off. Then and there I found out, my wonderful family man principal thought I was making the wrong decision the whole time but didn't want to say anything. So here I am...8 months later.


Windy said...

I think you made the right decision! They are only little once and if you can afford to stay at home - do it! They are much happier and obviously so are you. There will be lots of time later to work, when your children are bigger. Then you can devote the time needed to your school children with preparation as well as YOUR children at home, which is the MOST important thing you will ever do:)

Southerner said...

I never thought I would be able to stay home with the kids. I had planned to take off 6 months then return. I did work about 8 months and loved the job but hated the juggle of life. You can find ways to teach some if you want to add that in at some later time. Enjoy these days.