On giving it all up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
It wasn't exactly supposed to go down like this. I was planning on more thinking time. I actually wasn't prepared for how it went down at all.

For those who didn't know, I was (still am) on a year long (unpaid, of course) maternity leave. Thanks to a wonderful section in our teacher contract, our district allows us to do this and return to our position the next year. However, I wasn't sure I wanted to return next year. Also as a section in our contract is the ability (as a tenured teacher) to request a leave of absensce (without needing a reason) with the ability to again return to your position the following year.

That was my plan. A year of maternity leave and another year of a leave of absence. Thinking time to decide if this staying home business was for me. I admittedly was on the fence. While I am thankful for the opportunity to stay home and love being here, there are pieces of me that did (and still do) miss the adult time and the "ownership", if you will, of my job and the fact that I was pretty decent at it. I had come to a place where I was confident in my skills as a communicator to parents, a strong writer in my IEPs and other reports and in my skills in helping run a classroom and work one on one with my students. This year had been the start of my fourth year already. I was in a comfortable place, a place to call my own in my little closet office. I honestly did (and do miss it).

But then I think back to the year I left Henry at daycare at 10 weeks old. I remember the heart wrenching pain I went through NOT being able to stay at home with him. How the updates and pictures I got (at a one point, almost daily basis) were double edged swords. On one hand, it was great to get updates and see pictures during the day and that my day care mom took the time to do that. On the other hand, it sucked monkey nuts knowing that I had, again, missed something else awesome because I was at work with other peoples' kids.

As much as I was missing pieces of my working, adult life, I knew without a doubt I would miss what I've had at home this year. I got to see Claire's first smiles, her rolling over, her first bites of all the new food, the sitting up and everything else. I've missed nothing. I've been able to teach Henry how to use scissors, a glue stick, make art projects, read books, teach him how to draw a person, write his name, play outside when it's gorgeous out and handle his behavior in my own ways. I'm fortunate, I know. But there's still a piece of me that misses the adult life, and that's why I wasn't prepared for this.

What I didn't read in the fine print was that the request for a leave of absence was up to the discretion of the superindentent. The fine print I didn't read until 2 days before the request was due to human resources.

I found out via email the next week that my request was denied. This meant one of two things. Go back, or resign.

I'm officially a stay at home mom now. I will admit, the resignation letter was difficult to write. I owned that job. It. was. mine. When I think about the money, blood, sweat and tears that went into not only my graduate degree program (which was heavy on the tears) and the entire resume writing and interview process (also heavy on the tears), it was a hard thing to leave behind. But the hardest part of this entire process, oddly enough, was checking out the district website and seeing MY job opening posted. That used to be mine.


But, I'm more than excited for this new phase of my life. I've let go of my career so that I can be here with my kids each and every day and witness all the new things, and be my own kids' teacher until it's time to officially pass them off to school full time in kindergarten. As a plus, I have an expensive Master's degree to help me out in the parenting department every day. :)

I'm not sure how this post will read to some, but it's definitely not meant to say that I haven't enjoyed my time at home or that I wish I was going back. I also don't want it to be a slap in the face to moms who haven't/didn't made/make the choice to stay home, or can't. It's definitely not for everybody. I think a lot of moms who wind up choosing to stay home go through this career mourning and I just wanted to document what this whole thinking process was like for me and how I ultimately came to the decision I did.

1 comment:

Mandee Vang said...

Thank you for being so honest in your experience. I'm a FT working momma but I've always thought about making that leap. Thanks for sharing!

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