Being a parent has changed many things about me, my husband, our goals, our plans, etc. But the one thing that has never changed is my absolute love for teaching. Even after having Liam and dealing with a year of frustration, stress, and guilt from working full time, the thought of leaving my job never occurred to me. When something is so ingrained in who you are, you can't imagine life without it. Since the moment I got the call from my principal offering me the job, teaching has been like breathing.
When the option to work part-time came about, I was very excited. It offered everything I was looking for! I could be home with my son more, be less stressed about leaving him as well as work, I could still do what I was born and love to do, I could continue to help support our little family, and both Liam and I could have some social time daily. It was the best of both worlds and I loved everything about it!
Working has always been important to me. I love my son, and the baby that is on it's way, which is why I feel so passionate about them seeing the drive and focus I have toward being a teacher. Both Joe and I came from middle class families where all of our parent had to work. My mom didn't get to stay home with me, and because of that I grew up knowing that you have to work for what you want, you have to make goals and strive to reach them. I want my children to know these things as well. Although I want to be there for them as much as possible, I also want them to see how rewarding and important a personal passion and drive are. I have never wanted to be a stay at home mom, not because I don't love every second that I'm with my children, but because I love my career too. I don't want to give that up, nor do I want my children to not know that about their mommy.
A week ago I found out that the schedule that I planned to have this year, had changed in a way that could have definitely caused problems both family-wise, and with childcare. It was even more stressful because the news came with only two weeks to figure out the childcare portion. I called my mom in a panic, crying, stressed, and hyperventilating. Luckily, she was supportive and offered her help until baby #2 comes along.
With this news, not only did my daily schedule and my childcare plan change, but also my maternity plan. I had fully intended to go back to work the beginning of May, but I'm no longer sure that is going to happen. I'm just glad that it happened this year, when I already know I get to be home a good portion of the time.
Last night a co-worker suggested that if it were an option, and if plans continue to be this frazzled, that maybe I should think about taking a leave of absence for a year or two while my kids grow. Until this last week that would have never been an option for me. I love my students, co-workers, and career far too much to leave it, but if things continue to be this unknown and stressful it may be the best option for the coming years. I'm lucky enough to work in a district that supports parenting and that offers up to a two year leave, while still securing my job for the future. This has helped to make this option seem like less of a loss for me. Knowing that I'm not giving up my passion to stay at home, knowing that my job will be waiting for me when the time comes, and knowing that I'm not leaving a wonderful job in a crappy economy are all points that make it easier to consider this option.
Although we have discussed the possibility of me staying home with our two growing babies, we have not even come close to making a decision. Obviously, money is still a concern. We have been working like cattle to pay down debt, and live on a budget for quite a while now and I for one, am loving it! I see our progress daily and feel good about the choices we're making. It scares me to think that these goals and this focus could easily be lost if I were to take a leave. We also have longer-term plans for our family that could be put off or lost all together if staying home becomes my reality. But we are also considering the cost of having two children in childcare vs. my part-time pay check. Would I be working to have someone else watch them? Possibly! We are very blessed that we have a whole year to think these things through, to test it out while I'm on maternity leave, and to work out the details before we have to make a definite choice.
I have always, and I mean always, known that I should be a teacher. I spent my entire education focusing on being not only an educator, but being the best one that I could be. I love my job, and in fact, have never felt as though it is a "job". It is a career, a passion, a calling. Up until yesterday I never thought (not even once) about giving it up. I still wouldn't completely give it up, but taking a break to raise my children is starting to seem like an option I have to consider, both financially and parenting-wise. This is such a difficult decision, and I don't know what to do!