Lately I’ve felt the need to advertise the fact that I have an eight month old baby at home. You see, I started a new teaching job a few weeks ago. And usually with new jobs, you try hard NOT to show up with the kids and leave soon after the final bell. You slave away before and after school, trying to stay ahead (well, let’s be honest, you’re really just trying to not get behind!) You can’t really go on autopilot, because you don’t even know what the flight path is. Teaching in a new school is hard–and long–work.
But I have been showing up moments before the students, and leaving school within an hour after the final bell. Slacker? That’s why I keep telling everyone that will listen about my Baby ‘Bee.
I’m not just leaving at 3:30 to go shopping or go to happy hour. I’m picking up my daughter, changing diapers, breastfeeding, cooking dinner, playing with blocks, making lunch, reading books, rocking to sleep, and then collapsing myself sometime around 8:30pm. I arrive at school just before the kids because I’ve spent the morning wrestling my daughter into clothes, attempting to pack a healthy lunch, and maybe even read a book before we rush off to day care. I’m sure there are tons of other working moms who recognize this routine.
The reality of being a full-time teacher and a full-time mommy is that you really can’t do it all. And if you can, you’re probably not doing it all well. A close friend once told me, “you can’t always bring your A game to everything. Your kids have to get your A game. And your marriage has to get your A game. But work? Sometimes it might have to get your B+ effort. And you can’t spend the time to feel bad about those priorities.”
Now I do realize that I might be pushing some buttons here. I’m a teacher. I work with the neediest, lowest kids, and every single one of them is somebody else’s baby. They need and deserve help, and shouldn’t teachers spend every breath of every minute doing more and doing better? Mommy guilt is no joke, but teacher guilt feels strangely the same. It’s exhausting spending the work week never quite feeling like you’re doing enough, both at home and at work.
I’ve become efficient with my lesson planning. I know how to eat lunch and analyze a reading test, while chatting with a teacher about student A , and mentally lesson planning for student B. When I’m at work, work is totally getting my A game. But come 3:30, I’ve got another little face that gets 100% of my attention. So please, just remember when you see me lugging my books and computer to my car at 3:30…I’m really just heading off to my second job. And I’m trying my hardest not to feel guilty!