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My First Year as a Working Mom:Thoughts

April 19, 2013

Hi All!

Sorry for the lack of posting in these parts lately—things have been crazy.  Between the end of the semester (!!), our move (we’re still steadily unpacking, but things are moving along), and some stuff with Lila (she had a cold for about a week and a half, and then she had an adverse reaction to her one year shots, but all is well now), I’ve just been trying to get through each week, day by day.

“Day by day…day by day…” 

Anyone?  No?  Okay.  Moving on.

Anyway, today is my last official class for my two composition classes, and then my two creative writing classes wrap up next week.  Now that my first full year as a working mom is almost over, I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve learned over the past nine months. 

Working makes me a better mom

Because I spend more time away from Lila than the typical stay-at-home mom, I think (I hope!) I really, really appreciate the time that we DO spend together.  Last summer, before I went back to work, I kind of laughed off the idea that I would miss Lila after being away for only a few hours, but the truth is—I do.  When I’m at work, I miss her—especially now that she’s become more of a toddler and less of a baby.  She’s becoming so active and fun, so interactive and engaging, and because of this, I really do miss her when I go up to teach my classes.  And that kind of sucks.  But missing her so much also means that I never take for granted the time that I do spend with Lila.  Working keeps me engaged with the outside world—and because I have that, I think I’m much more willing to totally give myself over to the “Mama” world when I’m not at work. 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again—I truly believe that not every mother is meant to stay at home with their kids, and if you’re one of the mamas who chooses to work, that doesn’t make you a lesser mother.  It doesn’t mean that you’re less maternal than the mamas who DO stay at home.  It doesn’t mean that you love your child any less, or that you’re selfish.  A happy, fulfilled mom is more likely to raise happy, fulfilled children—if you’re bitter about having to stay home with your kids all day, that’s not good for ANYONE. 

Being a mother makes me a better teacher…

In the same way that going to work prompts me to appreciate my time at home as a mom, spending that time at home as a mom often prompts me to appreciate my work life much, much more than I did, pre-baby.  I felt more grateful for my classes this year than ever before—grateful for that adult interaction, for the escape that teaching gave me on the rough days at home, and grateful to be doing something that gave me intellectual stimulation (and an excuse to put on something other than yoga pants).  I think some mothers struggle with preserving their identity after having children.  It seems that for some mothers, having kids means that you are ONLY a mom—and to me, that’s a little sad.  Teaching has allowed me to retain a part of my identity that is (for the most part) totally separate from my identity as a mother.  Because of that, I think I appreciate my job way more than I ever did, pre-baby.

…and a worse one

That being said, I find that I have a lot less patience these days, when it comes to teaching.  When students come to class unprepared, or are disengaged in class discussion, or blatantly text all through a class, or ask me a question for the twentieth time that I’ve already answered nineteen times before, I find myself thinking—I’m sacrificing my time with my child for this?!?

Little teaching annoyances that would usually just roll right off my back seem to get under my skin more now, and again, I don’t think I’m as patient with my students as I once was. 

Working as a teacher is showing me how I want to raise our child

This year, more than ever before, I found myself studying my students.  I found myself watching the “good” ones—the ones who did the reading, the ones who came to class ready to engage, ready to learn, ready to discuss—and the “bad” ones—the ones who came to class and slept, or texted, or simply tuned me out, day after day—and then seemed surprised, or confused, or even angry, when they made anything less than an A in the class.  I studied those kids.  And I wondered—what can we do to help turn Lila into one of the good ones?

And when I say “good” here—I’m not just talking about academics.  I’m not talking about raising Lila to use correct grammar (although that is also important Smile), or to be really great at solving word problems.  I guess what I’m saying is that more and more, I get students whose core attitude seems to be one of entitlement—and that is something that I want to work very hard to move Lila away from. 

I think this is something we see more and more of, and we see it starting younger and younger—the idea that everyone is a special snowflake, that every child is a star, and that we all deserve accolades and ribbons and A+’s  for just trying—whether or not we succeed.

No.  I’m sorry, but no.

Not all of us are amazing athletes.  Not all of us are great at math.  Not all of us are great at English.  Not every kid is the next Picasso.  And we need to stop telling EVERY kid that they are great at EVERY thing.  Because then they get to college, and they expect to make A’s in every class just for trying—and I’m sorry, but sometimes trying isn’t good enough.


Can you tell that this is something I get worked up over? Winking smile  

So there you have it—some of my (slightly scattered) thoughts after teaching for a year with a baby at home.  I’m extremely lucky to have the job that I do—for the next three months, I’ll get to spend all my time with my sweet girl, knowing that come fall, my job, my office, my students—they’ll be waiting for me.  Somehow, for right now at least, I seem to have found a balance that works. 

And for that, I’m very grateful!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. itzyskitchen permalink
    April 19, 2013 4:11 pm

    I give MAJOR props to Moms who stay home! HARD WORK to be with peanuts all day long. I think that the work life balance is something I/most mom’s struggle with. Working definitely does make you appreciate your time with your kids

  2. April 19, 2013 4:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Although my boyfriend and I are still a few years at least from having kids, when we do – although my ideal is two parents working part time – he’s more open to being a stay at home parent than I am, so I’m very likely to be a working mom as well. It’s nice to get insight into what that life style can be like.

  3. April 19, 2013 4:42 pm

    Great post! I definitely see the entitlement in the girls I coach too… and yeah I believe it comes from parents who think the sun shines out of their kid’s ass! Guess what… it doesn’t 😉

  4. Emo permalink
    April 19, 2013 5:20 pm

    Can we get a guest post from Ryan about his first year as a working dad? It seems like y’all make a great team!

  5. April 19, 2013 6:26 pm

    To the last part of this post…the part about entitlement….YES. Just yes. The “let’s give every kid equal playing time on the soccer field” or the “everyone gets an award” stuff…it drives me mad. Teach them early life isn’t fair and you don’t get everything you want handed to you on a platter! I look at the difference between myself and my brother and my youngest cousins who are on average about 10-13 years younger than us and I’m just floored at how that sense of entitlement is literally engrained in them, just like you say. It’s crazy to me. How did it happen? Is it possible to raise a kid today without it? Great post 🙂

  6. April 19, 2013 8:20 pm

    I’m one of those moms who is just happier working. Mom-ing all day is not for me. So happy to find a balance that works for me and my family! Do what works for YOU, that’s what I say 🙂

  7. April 20, 2013 11:41 am

    Perfect timing for this post (well, for me at least!). Nick and I are trying to have a baby soon…..somewhat 🙂 I know I will always be working, full time, and this post was just what I needed! I’ll be bookmarking it so I can refer to it again in the future. Thanks Anna.

  8. April 20, 2013 3:55 pm

    Obviously I don’t know how I’ll feel when I actually have a kid, but now I think that I’d be much happier (and thusly, so would my family) as a working mom.

  9. Louise permalink
    April 22, 2013 5:34 pm

    I have a sixteen month old and I’m much happier working. I truly believed working saved me. I had an awful case of postpartum anxiety. I’m blessed to have a wonderful caregiver for my son and a husband with some work flexibility.

  10. April 22, 2013 9:25 pm

    Great post, Anna. And, such great comments! I think the key is to figure out what works for you and – this is the tricky part – hope you’re lucky enough to be able to do that. Some moms HAVE to work, even though they would rather be at home and some stay-at-home moms don’t financially have the option to hire help, or their partners are unsupportive or whatever. I’m so glad you have been able to find the balance that makes you happy, because, in the end, that’s what makes a happy family!

  11. April 23, 2013 2:20 am

    I love your insightful posts like this one. I appreciate your opinion and perspective, especially your last point about the A+ for effort. I agree. That’s not how life really is and it’s not how we need to treat our children (not that I have any haha).

  12. May 15, 2013 3:47 pm

    I love this post! I’m so glad I found your blog. I am pregnant with my first and just wrote about how I’m desperately looking for blogs from working moms to give me a better perspective.


  1. Back to Work: Thoughts (and gifs) | On Anna's Plate

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