Disclaimer: As always, this post is from the heart and based solely on my own experience and opportunity.
A few people have been asking me lately what I’ll do when I go back to work. I’m starting this post on my phone, with my baby snugged up in my arms as she tries to fall asleep for her first nap of the day and if I’m honest, it’s hard to think about work right now.
Before Charlee was born I
interrogated talked with several teacher friends, whose opinion and knowledge I trust deeply. We talked on the topic of babies for a long time. Part of me wasn’t sure if a baby was the “right thing” for the moment because my teaching career was (still is) so young and new. I was just getting my feet wet in our district and then BAM, I’d be off on maternity leave. Another part of me leaned into the fact that Joel and I had always wanted to be “young parents” (we are 27 and 29). I was scared that if I had a baby I wouldn’t love my job as much (who AM I?!?) and I knew for a fact that if I had a baby there would be no way I could work full time after maternity leave because I experienced full time teacher work last year and it literally used up every ounce of energy, heart and soul I had. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to be the mama I wanted to be and the teacher I wanted to be if I went back to work full time after having a baby. This was a big dilemma for me, because I’ve always been the person who is going to go big or go home.
One dear friend said to me, “Please have children – you will do a wonderful job as a parent”. Flattering, right? Another dear friend told me that having her son made the true meaning of life clear to her. Both of these friends are teachers, mentors and leaders in our district…I figured if these phenomenal women could do it, I could do it.
Obviously we decided to follow our hearts and we had a baby.
Our girl is now in between three and four months old (don’t ask how many weeks…math is my weakest link and I’d have to look at a calendar to let you know). The other day Joel jokingly said to me,”Only nine more months of mat leave!” and you know what? I felt sad. Nine months to me sounds like nothing. I have no idea where the last four months have gone, so only nine more is like…what?! Note: Dear readers to the south, I know your maternity leave is basically non-existent and I feel for you. I don’t know how people are expected to have and raise children on such a miniscule maternity leave plan. And to our readers in Sweden, I want to move to your country. Don’t get me wrong, I am entirely grateful for the maternity leave offered in Canada, especially because I am able to actually utilize all twelve months of it.
Confession: I am not in teacher-mode right now at all, as you can likely discern from my extreme lack of posts on this blog. If fact, when I even so much as think about teaching I can’t even draw up one fun, inspired lesson plan or idea. My brain is literally like, “Nope…you’ve got nothin'”. And I suppose that’s how it should be right now. This whole baby time IS my very own lesson; I am not the teacher, my daughter is. It’s like I’m in a year long inquiry project and it’s awesome.
Today my dentist asked me how I was enjoying maternity leave so far. She mentioned some people don’t enjoy it as much as they think they will. This has not been my experience. I adore maternity leave. Recently a friend explained to me how her life has become very simple since her son’s birth. I just think that is so beautiful. My life has also become much more simplistic since Charlee was born. For example, barely any of my days are planned right now, which is a new thing for me. We do what we want, when we want. Yesterday we went on two different hour long walks. Today we are having our nap an hour earlier than yesterday…on the couch instead of in the crib. My life has slowed wayyy down compared to last year’s full time teaching gig. I love it. My mind has space to wander and appreciate. My body has time to heal and rebuild. Somehow I can’t find time to cook dinner, but I’m not worried about it…I solved that problem and might touch on it in another post at a later time.
For now I am fully immersed in the peaceful calm that is raising our baby girl during her first year of life. I’ve learned it is my attitude that makes this experience “the peaceful calm”, because trust me, there are times when it is neither peaceful nor calm. I’m learning there is nothing a deep breath can’t solve (I started to learn this last year when I taught grade 8!) It is my greatest honour to be here for Charlee right now. And next December when I go back to work, I’ll only be doing so part-time. I don’t know what that looks like right now because part-time contracts vary greatly in our district. What I do know is that I am now first and foremost a mama. Teaching has become a tiny bit more of a job for me, whereas last year it was a lifestyle (and an unsustainable one at that!) This doesn’t mean I won’t teach with all my heart and soul ever again…I will, just only part of the time.
Teacher-mamas out there, how lucky are we that our profession allows us to work and still be there for our children? I’d love to hear from you about how you managed to juggle teaching (part time or full time) and being a mama when going back to the classroom after maternity leave. I have a lot of learning coming my way in the near future!
PS- Charlee is still asleep in my arms. I just wrote a whole post from my phone with one thumb. How skilled am I!