As our 31st (and final) working mom interview, Katy is here sharing with us today about her life as a Pre-K teacher and mom to Will, 2. About herself, she said:
“I’m a proud Texan and lover of all things Southern. I attended the University of the South in Sewanee, TN and Southern Utah University. After living a vagabond lifestyle of theater (my undergrad degree) and fundraising (my master’s degree) across six states, I returned home. Not long after that, I met a Midwestern boy online, fell in love, got married, and moved to Chicago. We’ve been married for 8 and half years and, after 6 years of infertility, have one 2 year old son. Five and half years ago, we moved back to my beloved Texas. In addition to my incredible son, I’m also mother to an adorable Maltese mix, Cordelia (named for King Lear’s daughter – have I mentioned I’m a theater nerd and my husband teaching English?) By day I teach prekindergarten. By night, I attempt to keep my mess in order…”
And here’s her interview:
1. What is your typical day like?
My weekday mornings begin at 5:39am. (I always allow myself to hit the snooze button once.) My husband, Dave, and I stagger wake up times (his is 5:00) so that he is finished and out of the way for me to get ready which usually takes about 30 minutes. We both spend a few quick minutes packing up last minute supplies, lunch and breakfast before waking up our 2 year old, Will. We wake him up every morning the exact same way, singing the song my mom used to wake me up and I love the rhythm and routine of that tradition. Will, taking after me, is NOT a morning person so we usually laugh at him and tease him as he flops around declaring, “No wake up. SLEEP!” We get him dressed quickly and all three of us are out the door by about 6:30. Dave and I alternate dropping Will off at the home daycare he attends (I could write volumes about how much I love that place!)and then on to work for both of us. I teach prekindergarten at an elementary school about 20 miles away from where we live, Dave teaches English and American Studies at a local Catholic high school. At that hour of the morning, it takes me about 20 minutes to get to school. I spend 15-25 minutes opening up the classroom, catching up with my aide, and doing any last minute tasks to prep for the day before my kids arrive for breakfast in the classroom at 7:40am. From there my day is filled with songs, learning, centers, play and naps before they head home at 2:15. After students are gone I spend anywhere from 1-2 hours doing work in the classroom. I love that teaching pre-k allows for a lot of creativity and enjoy the craftiness required. It totally makes up for the amount of snot I encounter! After that, I head back towards home. If I dropped Will off, Dave usually picks up so depending on the day it may or may not include picking up the dude. Will is in an amazing home daycare that we found when the owner’s niece was an intern at my last job. Most of the kids she’s cared for since Will has been there are either grandchildren or close family friends so he’s treated just like another grandson. And since we’re like family at this point, drop off and pick up often involves at least 10-15 minutes of chit chat and laughter. I love, love, love it! After that, its home, unless there is an errand to run which often times is picking up last minute ingredients for dinner. If time and weather allow (we’re in Texas after all) we may go to the park for some outdoor play time. Dinner is always something simple and most often together. Some days Will devours it and other times he chooses to exert his independence and refuses. I may or may not worry about that too much. J Will’s bath and bed time routine typically begins around 6:45 or 7:00 and lights out for him is no later than 8:00pm. We alternate the bedtime and kitchen clean up routines and thankfully Will goes down easily for either of us (he’s a great sleeper). I use the time after he’s asleep to pick up a little, do any prep work for the next day, watch t.v. and play around on the phone. I’m usually in bed by about 10 and lights out at 11. I do have a couple of mom’s groups that are pretty important to me and I have those in the evenings as well. One meets weekly so on those nights I have dinner, fellowship and a book study at church with those ladies and Will plays with his friends in the nursery (Dave has a book group that same night). The other meets every other week and doesn’t include dinner so we usually have a quick meal out before I go to that group. I started going to the biweekly group at another church when my church didn’t have a mom’s group in the evening and fell in love with the ladies. Then when my church started an evening mom’s group I thought I’d try it out only to fall in love with them as well! At this point I can’t give up on either group since they have become such wonderful friends and amazing support! Plus, Will made his first friends in their children. (These things are SO good for both of you! Good for you for prioritizing them!!)
2. Why do you work?
If you had asked me this question when Will was first born I would have told you I worked because I had to financially. At that point in my career, I was still in fundraising. But nothing makes one contemplate life’s purpose and calling more than having a child. I’ve known for a long time that I was meant to be a teacher but ignored that calling. I am the youngest in a family full of educators and spent my early adult years proving that I could blaze my own trail. On the one hand it led to many great adventures but on the other it meant denying what I was meant to do. So when Will was less than a year old I left fundraising and I entered into an alternative certification program. I am now one of nearly 20 family members in the field of education. And I can say, without question, that I work not only for financial reasons but because I feel it is my calling to make a difference in the lives of my students. I fully believe that I am a better teacher because I’m a mother and I’m a better mother because I’m doing what I love. I want Will to see examples of others following their passion and feel he has that with both of us. (YES. I couldn’t have said it better myself!!)
3. What’s the best part about being a working mom? What’s the worst or hardest part?
The best thing about teaching is knowing that I can make an impact in many lives. I teach in my hometown, a place that I LOVE. And I believe that I’m laying the groundwork for a successful future for that city as well as for each student. And I’m not going to lie, there is nothing better than a four year old coming up to you and asking “are you okay?” and then throwing their arms around you. It is THE BEST! I also love that it has forced us to seek out a village to help raise our son. Will is surrounded by family and friends that adore him and want nothing but the best for him and in their care he’s gained such confidence.
The hardest part can be learning to let go. I used to be much more type A and I quickly had to abandon that and adapt as a working mom. It is impossible to be at 100% all the time in all areas of life. That was a very hard pill to swallow.
4. What items or tips do you recommend to help “make it work”?
Having a spouse that is a teammate is an absolute for me. Dave is just as much a part of the running of our home as I am. And we balance each other. Thankfully we easily can pick up on chores that the other hates (please don’t make me take out the garbage). This year we’ve also started a family calendar where we jot down anything that is outside of the normal routine or occurs in our “off” hours. And I think it is very important to cut yourself some slack! I used to stress all the time if I didn’t have a written out weekly meal plan, or know exactly what day things were going to be done. But letting that go has made a huge difference for me. Yes, we may have had the store roasted chicken AGAIN but everyone is healthy and alive and we survived another day. YAY! (Love those roasted chickens!)
5. What encouragement, scripture, etc. has been important in your life and might be meaningful to another working mom?
First and foremost, show yourself a little grace. I think we’re often harder on ourselves than we need to be. Know that your children love you regardless of your mess. I had a friend whose mother used to always ask “in five years at five o’ clock on Friday, will you care about <fill in the blank>?” That kind of puts whatever my stress is into perspective. And I have a prayer I have turned to throughout my adult life that I think goes well with the hopes and desires we all have as mothers. It is by Thomas Merton, a Catholic priest and writer:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton
Wow, I love that prayer!! Thank you Katy! And THANK YOU to all of the wonderful moms who have shared over the last 31 days!! The truth is, 31 days is a looong time. Thanks for hanging with me this month! While I will admit that at times it became a little monotonous to me, I am so so grateful for all the women that took the time to share their lives with us and the community that was/is being built here for working moms… The biggest message I heard – and I hope you did too – was that WE ARE NOT ALONE. We are all running from 6AM to 10PM. We all feel guilty sometimes. We all make sacrifices and have days where we wonder if they are worth it. But, in the end, we are all also serving our families, fulfilling our callings, and “making it work.” I’m proud to be a part of this club. 🙂
What’s almost as amazing as the fact that I actually DID this for 31 days is the fact that we had zero exact name repeats (Katie and Katy don’t count, right?) – pretty unusual, you know?!
I’m taking Saturday and Sunday off, but I’ll be back Monday with “regularly scheduled programming.”