Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/JuEUC
Mother’s Day is approaching, and I’ll be spending part of it helping my daughter weed out her bedroom. She’s leaving for college in August and preparing this space for her younger sister, who has been looking forward to inheriting the bigger room since she started middle school.
Like many educators, I’ll dedicate a part of my Sunday to preparing for the week ahead as well. When I was in the classroom, this often meant writing lesson plans, reviewing papers, or getting a jump on my email inbox. Now, I’m designing professional development programs, tidying up blog posts, and completing written reflections of the work I’ve completed during the previous week.
In between all of this, the house will be cleaned, the laundry done, the shopping completed, and the bills paid. I’ll try to see a friend or two, I’ll try to read a bit as well, and if its nice, I’ll play in my garden. If I get enough fresh air, I may sleep through the night and wake up ready to tackle a new week.
I have a hard time sleeping on Sundays, and I know I’m not alone. Teacher moms spend their weekends multi-tasking, and their house work and home work is never done. Long after the sun sets and the lights go down, our brains are still in motion: planning, reflecting, and wondering how all of our problems will be solved.
Perhaps its because my first born is graduating or perhaps its because I’m watching former students become new teachers and new moms themselves, but this Mother’s Day more than any other, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.
The fact is that teacher moms come to love many more children than the ones they’ve given birth to. They will always love their own kids best, but their hearts are stretched and poked and broken by hundreds if not thousands of others over the course of their careers.
This is an incredible blessing and joy, and there is no greater work, in my opinion.
There is no harder work either.
Last week, I learned that one of my favorite former students is planning to marry soon. She just landed her first teaching job, and like me, she plans to have children right away because mother nature isn’t making it easy for her to fulfill this particular dream. She asked me how I handled being a new teacher with a newborn and a new husband. I told her the truth: I was a hot mess in a thousand different ways.
There are many tough truths that new teacher moms would do well to know, and I wish someone had told me these things eighteen years ago. My daughter may be the one graduating in June, but she isn’t the only one who gained an education over the last twelve years.
These are the most important lessons I’ve learned. If you’re a teacher mom, perhaps you’ll find yourself nodding in spots. I expect that you’ll disagree with me a bit as well, and that’s okay. I’m wondering what your truth is. Share it in the comments if you’re so inclined. I know quite a few new teacher moms who would like to hear from you too.
20 Tough Truths About Being a Teacher Mom
1. You will notice your child’s strengths in ways that others do not.
2. You will be more sensitive to their potential for failure, too.
3. You will know how to teach them best.
4. This will make things worse.
5. You will be judged unfairly by some moms who don’t teach, by some teachers who don’t have kids, and by your own children, who may not appreciate that you know as much about teaching and learning as you do.
6. At one point or another, your kids may become jealous of your students. This will kill you.
7. You will become “that parent” once in a while, and by “that parent” I mean the one who made you craziest as a teacher.
8. You will catch yourself being “that teacher” too: you know….the one who made your kid craziest.
9. Your understanding of school systems and your respect for all teachers everywhere may prevent you from advocating hard for your child, and you will regret this later. Probably forever.
10. Your regret will inspire you to advocate for your child at a later time, and this may do more harm than good.
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11. You will not do your kid’s work for him, and his work will pale in comparison to some of his peers’ who had “help” from their parents.
12. You will not fit in well when angry parent friends begin complaining about well intentioned teachers.
13. You will not fit in well when angry teacher friends begin complaining about well intentioned parents.
14. You will talk shop in parent-teacher conferences and forget what was said about your kid.
14. You will become a dirty rotten thief who spends more time snapping photos of teacher ideas you can replicate than listening to the principal’s presentation during open house.
15. You will know when you are being finessed or dismissed by people in the system.
16. You will wrestle with the discomfort of questioning authority in ways that non-educators would not.
17. You will watch your child thrive under the guidance of a teacher who is far better than you.
18. You will watch your child thrive under the thumb of a teacher who is nothing like you.
19. You will worry when your child tells you she wants to become a teacher.
20. No matter how much you love your profession or your students, you will be jealous of teachers who choose to become stay-at-home moms.
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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.