I taught PreK for 5 years before becoming a stay at home mom. It wasn’t until this year, that I realized, I was not ready to go back to teaching yet, that my heart was telling me that my place now, in this moment in time was home with my girls. It took a very long time for me to acknowledge it. I worked so hard to graduate school with a Masters Degree to continue to teach and grow professionally as a teacher. I was not thinking even for a moment, that it was even possible that I would give up teaching.
I had one test to take before completing my NYS Certification and I had gotten pregnant with my first, Olivia. Ayla and Esme came into my life very shortly after. I never completed my last exam. Now, when time can and I was ready to finally get it done, I was told that here are 2 more new exams I would need to take and another exam, that pretty much was equivalent to student teaching (which I had already done). Year after year I told myself I would do it, I would get it done. Year after year, I have gotten more tired, discouraged and had the added responsibilities of caring for another two little precious humans in my life. Olivia started PreK this year and Ayla would be starting next year. I had Springfield farm day nursery planned out in my head (sort of) for next year (where my in laws would help watch the children and I would return to work). I was determined to complete all my exams, immediately.
Then, Olivia lost her first tooth this year. It hit me. I was emotional. I couldn’t believe my little baby girl permanently lost one of her little baby tooth. It woke me up; that baby tooth is never coming back the same; it will be an adult tooth that will take it’s place when it does grow back. I was happy, but sad too. It was bittersweet. It made me realize that my girls are all eventually going lose their baby tooth and all their baby teeth. The baby teeth will be gone. I saw my life in this. One day, Olivia, Ayla and Esme will be grown up. They will be out and about, as little adults, being grown up. They may not want mommy to kiss their boo boos or to read them a bedtime story. They may not want to go to the park and play all day, or at least not with their parents. How will that type of time come back to me. Now, I finally get it when people say “Your children grow up so quickly.” They’re one, and they are already ready for solid food; two and they are already both walking and running; three and they are becoming quite the chatterbox; four and they are ready for Prekindergarten; and after that, sometime along, they will lose that baby tooth.
When I’m out and about going to the doctors appointment for myself, I am thinking about them. When I’m out with friends or anywhere, I think about them. What will I be doing when I am back at work? I will be worrying about them? Trust; yes I am lucky to have many people in my life I would trust my girls with; but the point is, I will hear stories about new milestones they hit; I may not be the first one to see and receive that large smily face with her first missing tooth. I realized when I was teaching, I was there for all those moments with my students, such as when they learn something for the first time; when they had their feelings hurt and needed to be comforted. I always tried my best to give my 100% to my students. I realize now that I am their teacher, and I am their mommy too; and I too, want to give them that 100%.
After I hit that epiphany, I felt a big load of stress lift from my shoulders and instantly felt happier. My husband was surprisingly very supportive of this new decision I’ve come in terms with. Prior to this decision , he and I were still both trying to encourage me to quickly finish my exams to start teaching as soon as possible; and yet, when I explained the lost tooth to him, somehow, he just understood. I was so HAPPY.
All of a sudden, doing 5 loads of laundry, clearing the sink filled with dishes, sweeping the floor very 10 minutes only to find crumbs every single time wasn’t as dreary, as it once felt. All those little things I do all day, all the toys I pick up, meals and snacks I make all day were all my little acts of love, my way of looking after them, caring and loving them. The way my mind once looked at being mom had changed too. I always loved them (no doubt about it), but my attitude changed. My heart was lighter, yet fuller. I wasn’t stressed out doing all the acts of love anymore; Home is where I decided I want to be, it is my 24/7 “job” and you know that saying “Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.”
Fortunately, I had a choice between whether or not I wanted to go back to work or not. There are many parents out there that may not be able to make that choice or choose not to and that’s okay. Just give your child your heart and love and they will know and they will feel your love. Your baby loves you for you. Children are so pure and honest. Give them a kiss in the morning and they will remember that feeling all day. Give them a thumbs up after they showed you something they are proud of, and they will have gained confidence and feel your love. Give them a home cooked meal or animal crackers with oranges for dinner, and they will think you are the best mom, the best parent and love you so. So no matter where you are in your life, just remember all the little acts of love you give are enough and they will feel it.
What are ways you show your little ones your little acts of love? What kind of difficult decisions did you have to make as a parent choosing or not choosing to go back to work? Any advice or support for parents who may be contemplating this?