My first week back to work is almost over. Although I had a rocky start, I finished up strong and I remember why it is that I love teaching and why a big part of me did want and NEED to return to work.
I cried like a maniac on Sunday night. Okay, I cried all day on Sunday, and not just in the evening. I was doing fine, and then I made the mistake of feeding Parker before one of his naps and he fell asleep in my arms in the rocking chair. I teared up and was suddenly sobbing uncontrollably. You’d think I was sending him off to Africa for the next twelve years. Everyone tells you how difficult it will be to send your child off on that first day, but since I was never a crier in my pre-baby life, I wasn’t sure how I would react. Tears, tears and more tears.
Monday morning was worse. Now I had to wake up at 5 AM without the prospect of going back to sleep for two hours after that first bottle. My head ached from crying myself to sleep the night before. I chugged three cups of coffee in the hour and a half before leaving the house. My husband brought him to daycare, which he will do usually, but I knew that I would never be able to send him off on the first day. I cried while zipping up his hoodie. I cried while I wiped spit off of the not-clean-anymore hoodie. I cried while I strapped him into the car seat. I cried all the way down 91 South and most of 84 East. I finally got it together, popped in my Britney Spears Greatest Hits CD – bet that surprised some of you – and vowed to have a good day.
For most teachers, the first day or two of the school year are devoted to meetings and professional development sessions. I didn’t have a single student in my classroom until today. Those first three days were bittersweet. It was great to see my colleagues, many of whom I hadn’t seen since leaving before April vacation. It felt good to get into my classroom and start to organize for the coming year. It was hard to hear, “How was it today?” a few times, but my mantra has been, “This is good for me.” I had been psyching myself up for this day by repeating this for weeks. This is a situation where you need to tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing, that this is good for you, and that there are more pros than cons. I may not have sincerely believed that “this is good for me,” in the beginning, but I think I almost do now.
After successfully completing my sixth First Day of School at my current school, I quickly remembered why I did go back. I really do love teaching. I really do have a great time with my colleagues. I am a very lucky woman to get to pick up my son by 3:00 in the afternoon. I know, as I’ve said before, that this time apart from my son can be good for us. I hope my children respect me for wanting to continue to grow in my professional life. I hope that if we some day have a girl, she admires me for working hard and using my education. I think my son will respect that too. Just as in my classroom, I practice what I preach. Why would I tell my own kids to go to college if I did, and then decided to throw away the tens of thousands of dollars I spent on that education? To some, this is a silly question, because what could be more important than raising your children? To me, I will always be independent, no matter how many years I have been married and no matter how many children I give birth to. If I give up a huge chuck of what builds my character, who is left?
Everyone tells me that soon I will be used to this, and it will be just another part of our daily routine. I can already see it. On that first day, I went in and Parker was hanging out with the five other children, watching them color and read books. He was content, smiling and still recognized me when I came in to kiss his sweet little face. The other children were so sweet and polite, and it put my mind as ease to catch a glimpse into what might be Parker’s future.
Plus Jackie, our day care provider, got him to take a three hour nap. A. Three. Hour. Nap. WTF kid? Where was that four days ago when I tried to iron a shirt for three days in a row and I ate a string cheese, without unstringing it, for breakfast?