If you’ve been reading here for anytime at all, you know that I feel passionately called to BOTH my role as a mom AND my role as a high school English teacher. For this season of my life, God has made it abundantly clear to me that I am better when I am working and that He is not finished with my ministry in the classroom. However, that choice – as confident as it may be – does not come without its questions, sacrifices, or guilt on occasion.
Today, I’m joining up with Linda Kardamis from one of my very favorite blogs – Teach 4 the Heart – to share about two different perspectives on continuing to teach after starting a family. Here’s a little preview of my post over on her blog explaining some of my heart behind deciding to work after having a baby… (You can read the full post here.)
I discovered an interesting paradigm during my pregnancy with Sam. At work, no one really ever asked me if I was going to come back after the baby was born; it was just assumed that I would. Instead, the questions revolved around how long I would be out, who would do my long-term subbing, and who would keep Sam once I started back. At church, on the other hand, I suddenly noticed that most of the mos around me (women I loved and respected a lot), had “given up” their careers to stay home full time after children. I was asked frequently whether or not I planned to go back to work; and, to be honest, I often got the clear feeling that the only acceptable reason to work after having kids was because I “had” to – for financial or other reasons.
In the end, although I was a little tormented by some of those opinions early on, I knew what my decision would be. As the daughter of a phenomenal teacher and the colleague of many excellent mothers, I had great examples in my life to prove that I COULD follow both of my dreams – motherhood and teaching. And, now three years in to this “working mom” gig, I am convinced that with a lot of prayer, grace, and a little extra planning, I can actually be GOOD at both of them.
I found Linda’s blog shortly after starting Sam & Scout and consider it one of the BEST resources out there for high school teachers today (especially Christian teachers). She posts incredible content almost every day on classroom management, faith in the public schools, work-life balance, and motherhood. She has one little boy too, and we immediately connected over all of our shared passions and loves. However, one major difference stood out among us… While I chose to continue working after having Sam three years ago, Linda hung up her official “teaching hat” for a few years after the birth of her son and, instead, stays connected to education through her blog etc. these days. I am honored to have her here today to share a little about her decision to STAY HOME after starting a family and some tips for adjusting to that new life. Please welcome Linda!
For many, the choice of whether to keep working after having a baby is quite difficult. There are so many factors to consider and so many emotions at play.
For me, the choice itself was easy, as I’d known for years that when I started my family I would stay home with my children. The tough part was navigating the adjustment and figuring out what my new role would look like.
Why I Chose to Stop Teaching
- Because training our children is our responsibility. The biggest reason I chose to stop teaching was because my husband and I believe that training our children is an incredible responsibility and that we want to be the ones to teach and train our children. And we just don’t see how we can fully do that if we only get to be with them for a few hours each night. Now that my little one is fast approaching the terrible twos and I’m working daily to teach him not to throw temper fits, I’m so glad that I’m here to train him every day. These years are just too important to trust to anyone else.
- Because they’re going to grow up too fast. Even though some days seem endless, I know these years will soon be gone and my kids will be school aged then teens then adults. I want to savor each moment that I can with them because I’ll never get these years back. I want to be there to see their first words and their first steps. I want to laugh with them, play with them, and dry their tears. I want to be a part of every aspect of their little lives. And while I’d certainly still get to love them and spend time with them if I were still teaching, I would miss out on so much.
- Because my family comes first. I’m well aware that family can still be one’s first priority even if they choose to keep teaching, but for me I strongly felt that putting my family first meant leaving the classroom. Yes, I have a strong calling as a teacher, but my calling as a mother supersedes even that. Furthermore, I don’t consider myself to have stopped being a teacher; I’m just taking a few years off. I’m really enjoying this season of life, knowing that, if God wills, I’ll be back in the classroom again at some point in the future. It’s not like teaching is going anywhere while I’m gone…..
- Because I know this is God’s plan for my life. Okay, this is actually the most important reason I chose to stay home. As a Christian, I believe God has a plan for my life. And I was and am confident that being at home is exactly where He wants me right now. And, really, that is all that matters. If you’re a follower of Christ, He will lead you and show you exactly what His plan is for each season of life. And knowing that you’re right where He wants you gives such a perfect peace, even in the midst of challenges and mixed emotions.
Finding My New Role
Even though the decision itself was easy for me, leaving the classroom wasn’t. First of all, my husband was quite concerned about our having enough money once my paycheck was gone. And secondly, I absolutely loved teaching and was really struggling with the idea of leaving it behind. I even found myself tearing up from time to time.
The reality, though, is that God has been incredibly good to me and has guided me each step of the way. I share more about how God provided for our financial needs in my post Yes, You Can Be a Stay-at-Home Mom (Even if You Don’t Think You Can Afford It) and I share some about letting go of my death grip on teaching in my post Can Good Things Become our Idols?.
But perhaps one of the most incredible things of all has been how God has allowed me to stay involved in the sphere of education through writing and blogging. I have absolutely loved being able to share what I’ve learned with fellow teachers through my book Create Your Dream Classroom and my blog Teach 4 the Heart.
When I first had the idea to write an ebook (actually, it wasn’t really my idea. I’m convinced God put it in my head), I didn’t think much beyond that at all. I just started writing, with no idea where it would lead.
In the year since I finished the book, I’ve seen some pretty amazing things happen. My fledgling blog at Teach 4 the Heart has started to gain some traction, and I’m starting to explore new ideas and opportunities. It’s just been awesome to see how God has led step by step, and I know He’s going to continue to lead and open doors.
I was really worried about leaving teaching behind, but when I surrendered it to God, He gave it back to me. Not only am I teaching my son but I’m also able to teach fellow teachers, and that has been incredibly rewarding. I’m also getting some inklings that He’s just getting started, and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for the future.
What About You?
I know many of you may not be Christians, but I just can’t share about my experience without sharing what God has done because it really has been all His doing. Lest you think I have an unusual or unique story, I don’t. I’ve seen God do incredible things in many people’s lives as they follow Him wherever He leads.
If this concept of knowing God and having Him be a part of your life is intriguing to you, check out godlife.com to find out more about having a relationship with Him.
And if you’re about to start a family, my biggest challenge is to not let finances dictate your decision. These days there are so many ways to make money from home – you just need to find them. So search your heart, pray, seek advice, and talk to your spouse. But make the decision based on what is best for you and your family, not your pocketbook.
What about you? Did you keep teaching or step away when you started a family? What advice would you share with young moms?
*Read my post at Teach 4 the Heart here.
Liz Balazs says
E- I wandered onto your blog a few years ago looking at great classroom organization ideas and I’ve stayed because you’re writing strikes a chord. I wear many hats: wife, mother, teacher, GT coordinator & Army spouse. It’s a constant balancing act, but one I also feel called to do in the very depths of my heart.
My daughter was born right after a change of station 1000 miles away from our home state. I ended up stating home for the next year while I dealt with changing my teaching license and updating my content testing. That year was the hardest year of my life, not because I was a new mom, although that was hard. The hardest part was feeling like I had lost a big piece of myself. Being a mom is an amazing, exhausting, rewarding and never ending title. It’s wonderful. It’s also wonderful to teach, to realize that you have impact outside of your own family unit and that your passion and enthusiasm could spark the leaders of tomorrow.
I don’t feel that my daughter is lacking time with her parents or that we aren’t completing our responsibility in raising her because I also teach. I know that I am raising her to know that she can do anything she wants and that hardwork and dedication (and time management!) are skills that will take anyone further in life. I am teaching her that a woman can be strong, smart, professional and yes, a mom, all at the same time. I think that’s the best training that I can give her.
I applaud the mothers who return to work. I attended public school, and was babysat by various relatives and neighbors to allow my mother to continue to work full-time.
I’m now in graduate school. None of the remaining students in my cohort were home-schooled. I think home-schooling is a fine way to raise children if the intent is to train them for manual labor work or to be stay-at-home parents. Careers requiring greater abstract thinking and the ability to entertain multiple opinions or perspectives requires that children receive education from a multitude of teachers. I’ve had educators I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with, but their differences in teaching styles, opinions, perspectives, etc. have made me a more well-rounded professional. Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath” has a great chapter about the optimal class size — allowing for many various opinions within the classroom, but not so large that the individual feels intimidated to express his or her opinion. Extremely small class sizes (such as the one-on-one attention in a home-schooling environment) limit the ability to see multiple perspectives on an issue or idea.
I will never home-school my children because I want them to form their opinions and perspectives after exposure to many different perspectives (outside of my home). I think it’s a bit narcissistic to believe any one parent has “all the answers” in that respect. Plus, they’re more prepared for the level of abstraction college requires.
Hey, Ashley, I agree with you in applauding women who return to work. However, Your comments about homeschooling lead me to believe that perhaps you don’t have a lot of contact with homeschoolers. I homeschool my children, but I am not training them to manual laborers or stay-at-home parents. (unless of course, that’s what they choose for their life work). My children are influenced by a variety of people with different backgrounds, opinions, teaching styles, etc. I am their primary education-facilitator – I do teach some of their subjects but much of their learning comes from others. My daughter is fascinated by computers and coding – so we found someone who is passionate about that to mentor her and teach her that. People with skills that I don’t possess, such as art or music or debate can be easily accessed by homeschoolers because our schedules are so flexible. Also, I have found that people who are truly passionate about their area of expertise are more than willing to share it with others. I take offense that you think it’s narcissistic for parents to homeschool. I do not have all the answers. I am teaching my children to learn for themselves – to seek out answers for themselves – so that they will be independent learners and lifelong learners.
Schools waste a lot of time. My oldest was bored in class. She could grasp a math concept quickly and finish her worksheet, but then she was forced to be in math class for an additional thirty minutes and do mindless review or busywork to fill the time. At home, she can complete her math lesson much more quickly and thus cover a much wider range of subjects in one day than she could at school. I’m not bashing school. I used to be a teacher myself and loved my time in the classroom, although it was a daily challenge to give all my students the time and attention they need And homeschooling certainly isn’t for everyone.
I just wish you wouldn’t paint homeschoolers with such a broad brush.
Micaela @ California to Korea says
Hi Ashley! Just wanted to chime in for a second about your thoughts on homeschooling. Homeschooling, for most parents, is far from narcissistic. In fact, it is one of the most humbling experiences of my adult life. Every day I have to face my shortcomings and work to overcome them. I created a co-op of 4 other moms who teach various subjects, I enlist experts in the arts and sports, and we spend a lot of time out in the world exploring. Far from being “only” taught by me, my children have a wide range of experiences with all sort of adults. For the record, many homeschool families work this way.
I’d encourage you to avoid using the phrase “I will never,” simply because well, you never know! I once said I would never be a teacher. And then I was. I said I would never homeschool, and now I do. Life is a growth experience, and we just never know where we will end up. So why limit ourselves with “I’ll nevers?” 🙂 Good luck with the rest of your studies.
Nikki Miller says
This post really spoke to my heart.
The way I see it you choose to work INSIDE the home or you choose work OUTSIDE the home. Both choices have pros and cons and we all need to make that choice on what is best for our families and our HEARTS!
I have gone back to teaching after 12 weeks home with both my girls. I still question my decision and I still second guess what is right for my family. I have been home with our girls all summer and I have been enjoying them so much. I am not sure what God has planned for me and I just try to take each moment as it comes and make sure I have enough quiet in my life to hear his gentle voice and guidance.
To be honest I am really dreading going back in three weeks I have done very little classroom work this summer, which is unusual for me.
Kathy Gildez says
As a credentialed teacher who taught for 18 years before staying at home to teach my own children (for 20 years) I can say I am glad I made the choice to stay at home. It has been an awesome blessing to teach my own children through the years. I have grown so much from this experience and have three sweet, friendly, bright life-long learners (my chlldren Sara-age 23, Amanda – age 20, and Mark – age 18)who love the Lord and I wouldn’t have missed any of the time I had teaching them. The icing on the cake is that as soon as my son graduated from high school in June I applied at a private Christian school 5 minutes from my home and was hired as a full time Third Grade teacher. So I am now excitedly, nervously, joyfully re-entering the field I was trained for. I am so thankful to have had the best of both worlds, and now get to return to the classroom. God is so good!
Micaela @ California to Korea says
Hi E! And Linda too! This is my first time here, by way of Kendra, who is both a blog and IRL friend. When I saw the topic, I had to click over!
I taught outside the home for 9 years. When I was pregnant with my third child, I left the classroom to homeschool my children. I felt very called to do so, and I haven’t looked back once. That said, I don’t think there is one right way for every mother (or family) and I applaud both of you for following where God leads you. One of the great things about our faith is that we know that God has a plan for each of us, individually, and that all we need to do is to be the best version of the person He made us to be.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
My husband and I are in what we feel is an ideal situation.
I returned to work after the birth of my first son (and found out I pregnant with number two not long after!). It was always my intention to work, and we felt it was the best decision for our family for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons was the fact that I have suffered with anxiety and depression. While some people may not understand our choice with that information in mind, my husband and I know that my work outside the home dictates a schedule that actually helps keep things (depression, etc.) manageable.
In addition, my husband works Saturday through Wednesday so he’s home with our boys Thursday and Friday. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday? My retired mother keeps the boys for 2 hours until I get off work (the husband works 3pm to 11pm).
So I don’t really feel badly about leaving to go to work in the morning–I know who is taking care of my children and I know I’m a better Mommy because I have a job that helps me keep things in perspective.