Teacher Mother

img_0851I am a teacher.  I became a teacher because I love learning, I love helping other people learn, and I believed I could make a difference.  I wanted my job to be meaningful to me and to others.  I am proud of my title even if my last name still hasn’t grown on me.  Sometimes I don’t like other people’s tone though, when they say with more shock than surprise, “Oh wow.  You’re a teacher?”

I am a mother.  I always wanted a family.  I wanted to have my own children to love, nurture, teach, and mold.  Most of the time I like being called “Mom.”  I always like being called “Mom” by someone else’s kid.  Sometimes I don’t like the tone my own kids use when calling my name and there are many times I don’t appreciate how frequently they call it.

I am a teacher.  I teach children, but I learn about each kid.  I study their personalities and try to figure out their learning styles.  I push them to do better and try harder.  I want them to succeed and to become independent.

I am a mother.  I see my own kids in my students and connect their personality traits and tendencies.  I understand other kids based on what I know about my own.  I realize that the saying “kids are kids” is so true and at the same time so false because I’ve experienced it in my own house.

I am a mother.  I wake up (just) early enough to get myself and two kids ready for the day.  I am packing lunches, brushing hair, braiding hair, making sure homework is in backpacks and after school sports gear is already in the trunk.  Sometimes my morning involves cranky children, breakfast spills, tantrums, and unplanned poops (all of which tend to put me behind schedule.)  It means a prayer before school, me giving kisses and hugs and shouting, “Make good choices!  Do your best! I love you!” at my kids as they’re running to a before school program.

I am a teacher.  I arrive at school before my students and set out chairs, start my computer, turn on the SmartBoard, put water and oil in the diffuser, and rush off to my first meeting or devotion.

I am a teacher.  My workday ends at 3:30, but I stay at school much longer and always take work home.  I get weekends off, but I have to schedule time to grade papers, create PowerPoints and answer emails.  I get summers off, but spend time collaborating with my team about the following year.

I am a mother.  I sign the permission slips for my child to attend another field trip that I won’t be able to attend.  I try to donate items to the classrooms because I cannot volunteer my time.  My kids ask me to do little things like drive around to get them from pick-up line, “Just like the other parents do, Mom,” but I’m contracted to work until after that time.  My kids get picked up at an after school program at 5:30 most days.

I am a teacher.  This means that when someone asks me about homework I’m going to say it’s important and can help support what a child is learning in school.

I’m a mother.  That means that I understand homework isn’t fun and doesn’t always get done.  It means I know that when a child is sick, getting a packet of make-up work to do while they’re pale and holding their head over a bowl seems ridiculous.

I am a teacher.  I spend hours at home planning lessons that will engage my students.

I am a mother.  My kids think I’m always on my computer.

I am a teacher.  It means I am in charge of reviewing auditions for plays and Christmas pageants and then I’m forced to choose who will get to shine on stage while others are disappointed that they didn’t get their part of choice.

I am a mother.  I’ve had to comfort my own child when he’s come home crying that he wasn’t picked to do the back-to-back air guitar that he and his friend had been practicing during recess.

I am a teacher.  I have to plan for parent-teacher conferences.  I stay late completing report cards, printing documents, gathering papers, and scheduling meetings.  I review what will be said during each one and play out every best and worst case scenario over and over in my head.  No matter how many times I tell myself that conferences won’t be a big deal and it shouldn’t be something to stress about, I always end up with at least one cold sore.

I am a mother.  I’ve had to sit in the hallway waiting for my turn to hear what someone else has to say about my child.  I’ve waited nervously in a too tiny kindergarten chair hoping that I’m not going to be scolded because of the reading logs I didn’t sign, or the homework that I lost that one time, or the fact that my child isn’t reading seven hundred sight words in October.  I can never decide if it’s worse to be attending a conference or leading one.

I am a teacher.  On the school playground I am enforcing rules like, “We go down the slide not up it!”  and “Tag should be two finger touch!  No shoving!”

I am a mother.  At the park I’m pretty sure the equipment is free to be used however you want as long as you aren’t hurting another person.  “Mom, watch me climb up the slide!” Lindsay yells.  “Sure thing!”  I reply.  “Just let me watch to make sure no one else is coming down.”

I am a teacher.  I know all about internal and external motivation.  I have used clip charts, marble jars, button jars, and card pulling and name-on-the-board-writing, Class Dojo, team points, prize boxes, and all manner of behavior management systems.  I can honestly say I have never truly lost my temper with a student.  (Losing patience with their parents is a different story.)  I tend to think, “Well, he’s sure having a bad day.  Whatever.  Tomorrow we’ll try again.”  At school I tend to keep in mind the idea that “kids will be kids” and they’ll learn eventually.

I am a mother.  I believe that my kids should want to obey me because I spend every waking moment of everyday doing nothing but stuff for them.  I don’t often get to pee uninterrupted.  At home I am adamant that there will be no reward systems or fancy charts.  I have read the parenting books, I have watched the Positive Parenting Solutions lectures, I know about Love and Logic and sometimes I’m convinced that a little person needs to do what they’re told dang it.  It’s true that sometimes my capacity for patience is left at work.  I spank my children. (Oftentimes I blame this on the children who came before them who I taught and were never disciplined.)  I have all out yelled at them and said things that I later regretted.  I’m sure our neighbors have heard, “If I wanted to talk to kids who weren’t going to listen to me, I would have stayed at work!” or “I don’t care what so-and-so does, you will not be doing that!”  When they have a bad day I assume that:

  • a) they have been deeply scarred probably by me in some way or another
  • b) I am failing him/her as a parent and  now I’m seeing the consequence of either being too soft or being too hard
  • or c) they have a huge personality flaw that I have somehow encouraged or intensified by neglecting to deal with it appropriately and eventually we will all need counseling

Since I’m a mother I worry that if my kids aren’t perfect, I’ve done something wrong.  Everything in me knows that my thinking is completely illogical and somewhat paranoid.  I can’t help it.  Kids will be kids?  Well, everyone else’s kids maybe…

I am a teacher.  I believe that there are no bad children, but only good kids who make bad choices.  I try to incorporate friendship and community building in my classroom.  I encourage students to love and respect each other.

I am a mother.  I tell my kids repeatedly that kindness matters most.  I ask them to stick up for other kids who might be getting picked on.  We have discussed at length that we need to be Jesus to everyone even when it’s not popular.  I tell them that no one is a “bad” or “naughty” kid.  There are only good kids who make bad choices.  That said, before Matthew had his first sleepover, I totally took his list of friends that he wanted to invite to the secretary (who also happens to be one of my best friends) so she could approve of the list.

I am a teacher.  I have lost sleep thinking about my students.  I worry about the one who has seemed off all week…the child whose parents are getting a divorce…the one who lost a family pet…the girl who felt left out…the boy who is feeling bullied…the one who is neglected because his parents work too much…the one who came to school hungry because her dad just lost his job…

I am a mother.  I have lost sleep thinking about my children.  Did I stay at work too long today?  Is he getting enough quality time?  Did I give her enough attention?  Why didn’t I stop what I was doing to look at him when he talked to me?  Why did I snap at her so quickly?  Why do I rush them?  I need to get up earlier so I’m not yelling so much.  Should I be reading more with them?  Are they getting enough sleep?  Am I packing enough for their lunches?  Are they even eating their lunches?  Is he fitting in at school?  Is she being too bossy?  Do they know how much I love them?

I am a teacher.  I pray that God blesses the work that I am doing.  I pray that He helps me to do it well.  I pray that He can use me despite my shortcomings.  I pray that each child in my class feels loved and that I can have a few special moments with each one.  I pray that they know how much I love them.  I pray that parents realize that my work to me is more than just a “job.”  I pray for forgiveness, guidance, patience, strength and wisdom.

I am a mother.  I pray that my kids know how much I love them.  I pray that they know they mean more to me than any job or any student.  I pray that God will help me to find balance so that my time with my children isn’t limited by what still needs to be done at school.  I pray that God forgives me for being short with my children and for cheating them out of time that we need together.  I pray for the energy I’ll need to come home from work and still be fun and playful.  I pray for forgiveness, guidance, patience, strength and wisdom.

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