I've been a working mom for eleven years now. I vividly remember a student's mom asking me at 6 months pregnant with my first child what my plans were once the baby was born. I told her that I would take my maternity leave and return to the classroom to teach when it was complete. Looking at me condescendingly, she responded with "Oh, well, I guess that will be nice for MY child." Well, ok then.
I have an advantage now that I am a teacher again. Yes, I get more time off with my children. I no longer travel like I did when I was director of the charity. That was difficult and took a large toll on my family. I love my summers with the children when I get to be home with them, but I am always ready to be back to the academic rigor of the school year. During the year, I work long hours, both at the school and home grading papers after the children go to bed. Often until late in the night.
I think the struggle is balance. Most working moms feel like they are doing an inadequate job in one or both areas of their lives. I can't always be the teacher and employee I want to be because of my commitments as a mom. I can't always be the mom I want to be due to the commitments I have to my job. I often feel like I am failing one or the other. I question my abilities and I find comfort in other working moms who have the same issues.
It's a constant juggling act.
As a teacher, I can't take my kids to the early morning dentist appointment and simply arrive late to work. I ask for the latest appointment available in the day, explaining with a slight apology to the doctor's receptionist that I am a school teacher. I have 24 minutes for lunch, so I can't bring my girls lunch from Chick Fil-A and enjoy seeing them with their elementary classmates. School parties or assemblies? Forget it. I have to be in the classroom. My girls understand, though they do complain on occasion that I can never be there. Cue the mom guilt!
All in all though, I wouldn't change it. I love my family and cherish my time with them. I love my career and feel strongly that I was called to be in the classroom working with students. My daughters are proud of me for being a teacher. They love to come up to my school and meet my students during evening activities. They enjoy hearing stories about the students. Maggie has even written a prompt about it in class over who she most admires and why.
I chose this life. Daily, I continue to choose it. It's not the easiest and it certainly is not meant for everyone. However, it's my life and I love being a working mom.