Friday, February 15, 2008

Working Mom

We took Jo to show off to visit my colleagues and students today. He was a hit, of course, with everyone commenting on how big/alert/adorable/gifted he is. Someone said he had my eyes. Not ironically. (He does, right now, though we'll see if that changes.)

So, I'm not quite a working mom yet. Let's say I've been a part-time working mom, in this sense: though I've been on leave, I have the kind of job that never leaves. For those of you just tuning in, I teach 7th grade. So I've been in touch with my leave replacement, sometimes daily, about various issues with the students. I had to write the reports. Even in my time at home, with Jo, there is this other thing that lives in my head. It didn't affect my time with him negatively, by any means (well except I wish I hadn't had to do the damn reports!), it's just there.

I did go back to school once before, for a meeting in mid-January. I was stressed about having to go, about leaving Jo and Co. I was really a mess about for a few days beforehand. And then I went...and it was fun. I enjoyed being back with my colleagues, talking about our students, being in that role again. I probably stayed a little longer than I needed to, although of course my plan had been to dash in and out as quickly as I could. I called Co while I was walking to the train, to let her know I was coming home, and heard Jo in the background, and totally fell apart. I had missed hours with him, I was sure I had missed entire crucial stages of development.

This pattern has been pretty consistent; I've gone to my Hebrew tutoring job several times since he was born (that's around the corner and for an hour at a time) and I've been grim about leaving him, enjoyed the work, and then panicked that I was away.

My first day back at work is February 25, and then I'll be a full-time working mom. (Co will be home with Jo full time 'til April.) I'm scared, but I do think I can do this. It's a transition, and I hate transitions, until I establish a routine. I know there are so many moms who have gone before me, many of whom (I hope) are reading this, and I know that if they do an amazing job, I can survive.

I seem to have two compartments in my head and heart, my job/career and Jo, and I love both. I love Jo more, I don't hesitate to say that. But I enjoy my teaching too. Right now it feels very schizoid, that when I am engaged in one it is hard/painful to think about the other. It helped to bring Jo to school, that I've now changed his diaper in my classroom and introduced him to the class hamster, that everyone there has met him in the flesh.

This working mom is definitely a work in progress.


meanmama said...

Well, I didn't go back until the boys were almost 2, and even at that only 3 days per week. But with this next baby, chances are that I will be going back 4 or 5 days/week when s/he is just months old. Of course, I have the advantage of having experienced the SAHM thing and watched the boys' development. But for whatever it's worth, I will say that I do love teaching and love being back at work. I think being a teacher is very compatible with being a parent - the not-too-crazy schedule, the summer, and the fact that other teachers are parents too and tend to be supportive. So, I don't know how it will be for you, but I have a hunch that if you enjoy your job, you will probably be okay. I think it could be much worse for people who are just so-so about their work and then have to go back anyway. Please keep us posted as to how it is for you- I'm kind of nervous about it for myself, and hearing about someone else's feelings may help.

sandra said...

7th grade!!?? I teach 9-12.

I'm going back just for the month of June and then back for good in September... I like what I do - I really like it... but I am loving being at home. So we shall see.

Definitely a work in progress.

girlranting said...

One can get used to anything, and if it is any consolation, many mothers here in Mexico have to leave their babies at 40 days old to go back to work since we have no PTO or anything like that, and yet they do fine. They're even better than children who have their moms at home, since they're more socialized. I can sympathize with how hard it will be for you though, so I'll be sending good vibes your way.

On another note, I started my own blog (finally) so you might want to check it out...


Leave a comment!

girlranting said...

Oh.. and in case you didn't know.. This is Erika ;)

Jen said...

It was really hard, but it has gotten easier over time. While my position (non-classroom based) has advantages of flexibility that were helpful (especially as a nursing/pumping mom) I think being in a classroom would be even better for making the transition, because it is SO ALL CONSUMING. Sometimes I just had too much time on my hands to be melancholy. OTOH I don't bring home as much work as I know you must. Anyway, you will get through it; you have to. For a long time that was what was getting me through: I had no choice. It's a lot better now, and it will be for you someday too.