Saturday, July 30, 2011

Actions speak louder then words, or do they?

 This week for the Dare to Share Link Up I'd like you to link to a post about your dream job, what you wanted to be when you grew up as a child...what you want to be now. Tell us about your dreams and how you're going to make them come true. This post can be old or new, fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose. All that I ask in return is that you grab a button from our sidebar and try to visit and thoughtfully comment on at least three other posts.

Upon reading the prompt this week for the Lightning and Lightning Bug's dare to share post, I immediately knew this was it. I have reposted this from it's initial date over a year ago, May 17, 2010 to be exact. Maeve has since learned not only to sit up but walk, run and even talk a bit, and Mo's passion for the Wiggles has been replaced for that of the Fresh Beat Band. I'm still not sure what is worse.

From the time I was a little girl I always remember my mom and dad telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. While I sometimes played veterinarian with my pound puppies or office with the stapler and role of scotch tape, I usually found myself as the 'teacher' to my classroom of miscellaneous stuffed animals, Cabbage Patch Kids, and my little brother and sister, who were my students. I guess, there was never any denying that I would become a teacher.
As I got into middle then high school, I started working at the local YMCA. Surprise, surprise, I was a lifeguard! (Who would have thought the kid that was a competitive swimmer since age five would get a job in a pool.) While I found the social aspect of the job to be fun, I enjoyed teaching swim lessons 100 times more. I eventually let my life guarding certification lapse so that I could teach swim lessons.
When it became time to apply to college, I looked at schools that had education programs that had access to real school classrooms early on, and hence my decision to go to Seton Hall. I remember reading some statistic that most college students change their major a few times, but me, never wavered. Declared myself a dual special education/elementary education major from day one and I never looked back. I ultimately did my student teaching in the same district I was hired and worked there until the birth of Mo. During the last few years, I pursued my Master's degree from Rutgers in education with the idea that possibly I would consider getting my doctorate some day and then teach how to teach.
I knew deep down when I was pregnant with Mo that I would never go back to my job as a first grade teacher. I honestly and truly LOVED what I did. I had a ball with those 6 and 7 year olds every day and worked in a fantastic district. I had been there nearly 8 years when I left, which meant I basically knew my way around the district. I was a familiar face with the families in our school, parents requested me for their children, and I was even complimented by one father as being the "Progressive one" out of the four first grades. I did some things in Room 8 that I knew no other first grade teacher in the district was doing.
I mean, who really has conversations about race and gender with 6 or 7 year olds?
I did!
Who would scour freebies from the grocery store, fast food restaurant, own mother etc... to use in the weekly class auction?
Umm, again that would be me.
Not to toot my own horn, but I was good, the kids learned AND had fun doing it, and I felt blessed to have a job which I loved.
When I had Mo, I went on maternity leave and then took off the next year. She was born on April 1 and again, because of our contract any child born April 1 or after, one's leave does not count for that calendar year, I took off another year. I got pregnant with Maeve and then this March sent in my official resignation, and thus with one letter and signature, my time and tenure are over.
Now I'm full time mommy, yes, a full time mommy with a bachelor's degree in special and elementary education and a master's degree in education too! I have these pieces of paper but really, what are they doing for me now? A M.Ed really doesn't help one take care of their three and half month old at four a.m. nor does my special ed. degree help me figure out how to get my two year old to be potty trained.
I do not second guess my decision to stay home with my girls, but I wonder what me being here and not being in the workforce says to them. All too often I remember hearing as I grew up that I could be anything I wanted to be. Dream big, they would say- astronaut, oceanographer, doctor, or teacher. Yes, I WAS a teacher. I HAD that profession, but I gave it up to be a mom.
I wonder if my girls will value this?
Will they think I copped out?
Will they underestimate their own potential because I'm not that professional role model?
I want to be everything for my girls, but I realize I may have to relinquish this role to someone else. My sister, luckily, can be that strong role model in the workforce for them as she is the pediatrician, and maybe, just maybe, I'll jump back in to the education field in the future.
I know I'm getting ahead of myself, as Maeve has yet to sit up and I just bet if you ask Mo what she wants to be when she grows up she'll probably say "a guitar" or member of the "Wiggles", but I can't help but wonder now.
I do know, however, that like my parents before me, me and Bry alike will tell our girls that they can be whatever they want in this big world - whether a Wiggle, or doctor or teacher or yes, even a mommy.


  1. your girls will love and admire you because you made the decision to love and raise them. You are and will continue to be a strong role model for them. Be proud of your choice, teaching will be there if you want to return but your girls will grow up faster then you can imagine.

  2. My mom led a very similar path as you. She was a teacher who decided to stay home with the kids. Eventually, as we got older, she went back to teaching. Looking bad, I'm positive she would not change a thing.

    I understand your struggle. Your entire life up until Mo was born was about teaching. It's a great profession that provides instant gratification. You are still teaching, just on a smaller, yet more powerful scale. You will raise your girls to be be great.

    Just remember, it's not what you do (i.e. your profession) that defines you, but who you are. Just as you said, your actions speak louder than words. Your girls will see you as a role model, professional or not, because of the strong person/woman that you are.

    Your career path is never set in stone. You never know what your future has in store for you.

    Good luck.

  3. You've made difficult choices and I commend you for being at home with your girls.

    My oldest, in her late 30's, is a high school APC and her frustrations in juggling a consuming schedule along with managing a home husband and two little boys overwhelms her at times.

    She misses teaching and the tremendous impact she made on her special needs high school students. But, with her NYC teaching background, when she moved to Florida, her abilities as an educator quickly helped her to move to where she is now.

    Still, she feels that she's missing so much as her boys grow. In the future, will this all be worth it? So, so hard to make that call.

    I see you returning to teaching at some point, with all of your dedication and inventiveness, when the time is right for you and your family.

  4. You are doing exactly what you should be doing, in my humble opinion, and your girls will be so grateful to you for the time you are spending with them. You are a role model without any doubt! Revel in it and enjoy this season!!!

  5. I think the greatest gift a mother could give to her children, other than her unconditional love, is time-spent together.

    Your daughters will undoubtedly appreciate the choice you've made, because being a stay-home mother is not an easy task. It's a full time job that's rarely recognized or publicly admired.

    Whether or not you have a profession other than being a mom, what matters are the values and examples that you pass on to your children. And I believe that you are well on your way doing that, regardless of you returning to work, or staying in your role as a stay at home mom.

  6. Great post! I especially loved the part about which is worse: Wiggles or Fresh Beats. That's a toughie. :)

    And you girls WILL look up to you for what you've done. You've lived it both: had your dream career AND been a mommy. And being a mommy, in my opinion, is the most respectful job in the world. Teaching and being there for your kids: priceless and irreplaceable.

  7. Congratulations on knowing what you wanted early and going for it and achieving it!

    Being home with your girls and a full-time mom though is really your best achievement! It's the most important job in the world!

  8. This post resounds with me on many levels. You are so blessed to have found a profession that you found fulfilling and to which you were so committed. As for staying at home, they may not immediately recognize the job and the sacrifice that you have made, but I know for sure your daughters will recognize that their mom took on the most important job she ever had when you signed that letter of resignation!

  9. You are a fantastic role model for your children whether you work in an office or at home with them all day. I am new to the whole SAHM thing and I have yet to figure out if I'm cut out for it. I'm basically in the middle of a huge identity crisis. So I understand your struggle. I'm started to redefine what an accomplishment is and find other ways to be proud of who/what I am. Easier said than done...

  10. My parents both made immense sacrifices so my Mother could stay home with us kids. I didn't fully appreciate this until I was older but I love them all the more for it and truly believe I had the best childhood a kid can have thanks to my parents and what they gave up for their children.

  11. This is a struggle that touches me where I live! I have done both the 'working mom" and sahm thing over the years. I have to say for me staying home was better.....I was better. I was more focused, less exhausted and over all more in the moment. Even knowing that about myself I question what it said to my daughters. Time will tell I guess.

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective and I think all the kids who did have you in the classroom were very lucky.


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