Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This Is When It Gets Hard

I am a wife, a mother, and a teacher. They are three vocations (not jobs) that I relish. They make me who I am, and without one of those vocations I don't feel complete. But this is the time of year when those three vocations collide in uncomfortable ways: the beginning of the school year.

As usual, this summer has been fantastic, and as I noted last year, the older my kids get, the more enjoyable that summer time is. And this summer was packed. We camped, both kids had swimming lessons, my daughter went to two day camps, and I spent the majority of the summer purging and selling a much as I could through Facebook garage sale groups. We went to the park, to the drive-in, and hung out. It was a good summer for all of us. During one weekend camping trip my daughter asked my husband why he couldn't be a teacher. She wanted to camp for longer and knew that if Daddy also had the summer off she wouldn't have to go home yet. We laughed at the idea of my computer nerd of a husband being a teacher but also enjoyed our daughter's sweet sentiment. She just wanted to spend more time with her whole family.

Contrary to popular belief, most teachers don't take the whole summer off. There are workshops, summer assignments, summer school, professional reading, and getting everything done that doesn't get done during the school year. Really, when you are working anywhere between 50-70 hours in a given school week, depending on the time of the year, a lot gets neglected during the school year. That includes quality time with our kids. But we working moms who are teachers are blessed. We get to spend our summer months with our kids, a luxury that our fellow non-teacher working moms do not have. I can take my kids to work with me during the summer. I can grade summer reading assignments with them sitting next to me on the couch (thanks to the Internet). And I have a lot more time for them. Nights can get later without worrying about getting them up in time for daycare and work the next morning. I don't have to worry about staying on a strict schedule (with the exception of things like swimming lessons and day camp). I honestly have a hard time flipping that switch at the beginning of the summer and by the end of summer I am ready for routine again, but the in-between time is awesome.

Then we have to go back to school. My daughter has always gone with the flow and this year things change again because she is starting kindergarten, which means a new schedule and routine for the three of us as we get ready in the morning. But my son has never been good about getting back into routine. He thrives on routine but he prefers that his routine include Mommy. So this week has been hard. REALLY hard. We've had two mornings of kicking, screaming, and tears. He doesn't want to go back to school. He wants to go to school with Mommy. I'm beginning to think that those couple of days hanging out with just me last week while his sister was at day camp spoiled both of us. He played in my room, watched movies, and took naps on my floor. The last two mornings have been hard on me too. I don't like seeing my baby upset. I love that he wants to be with me. And I'm frustrated because his tantrums and tears are keeping me from a tight morning schedule. This is when the guilt and frustration gets to be a little much. This is when I question one of my three vocations.

And yet I'm still excited for a new year. I know that in the next couple of weeks things will settle down. My son will be back in his routine, my daughter will be thriving in Kindergarten, and I will be living it up talking about composition, rhetoric, and literature. But until then I am once again reminded that this is when the job is hard. This is when it feels more like a job than a vocation. But I know that this what I am called to do. I am called to be a wife, mom, AND a teacher. And with God's help, we will make it through the start of another school year.

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