I hate to start with a cliche, but man, I can’t believe it’s already time for back to school. I don’t want to believe it, but the calendar says it’s true. School buses rolled down our neighborhood streets and, dare I even mention it, some of the leaves are starting to turn.
Like many of you, my son had his back to school day yesterday. It isn’t his first time at school; we sent him to a 2 year old program last year. This year he’s at a new school, with new teachers, and a bigger class. He took it like a champ. And I’m grateful he had the experience of last year (or, rather, that WE did), because drop off was so much easier this time around. No weeping into my Starbucks coffee and wondering if I was ruining his life by leaving him all on his own.
It was also MY back to school day. I’ve worked from home for a few years, now, teaching online college composition courses. I wanted to add some new challenges, though, and maybe even interact with some people outside of the computer, so I took a job teaching a course at one of the local colleges. It is the first time I’ve worked outside of the home since becoming a mother.
I had some mixed feelings about it, sure. Luna is still a baby, and it’s hard to leave her (especially since her bottle acceptance is still hit or miss), but honestly, I was mostly excited. We found a great babysitter to come to the house so the kids can stick to their routine. She’s comfortable and at ease with babies and preschoolers, so I had no qualms about leaving my children with her.
But beyond that, beyond being excited about the flexibility of my children, I was excited for me. Excited to do something that challenged myself. Excited to fill a role outside of “mom.” Excited to meet the needs of people that went beyond fetching a snack or finding a toy or changing a diaper (and let’s keep our fingers crossed that it stays that way).
I love being at home with my kids. I love being able to do so.
I also love remembering who I am apart from them. A teacher. A grown up. Someone who can wear clothes that don’t snap down in the front for easy cleavage access. It was nice to remember that I do have something to offer the world outside of my family.
It’s such a complicated thing, parenthood. No matter which way you go: full time at home, full time work outside or inside the home, a little of both, it feels like there’s a sacrifice. It feels like, maybe, you SHOULD be doing something differently. I have a hard time remembering that this is nonsense. No matter what we do, no matter what I do, I am the best mother for my kids. I can work a 40+ hour a week job and still be the best mother for them. I could do nothing but perfect Pinterest crafts and be the best mother for them. There doesn’t have to be a distinction. There doesn’t have to be this false choice of being a mother or being a worker. All of us are both, all the time.
So despite me thinking that this new job is something that fulfills me outside of my role as “mother,” it’s also fulfilling me inside that role, too. I guess the two are never separated.