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Monday, August 24, 2009

A Working Mom Manifesto

With school starting this week, I feel it only appropriate to write this post now.

I'm just going to say it-- I don't think I could be a stay-at-home mom. I think working makes me a better mom. You see, since I teach, I do get to experience being a stay-at-home mom for just under half the year (11 weeks in the summer, 5 days at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas, 1 week in the spring, and every major bank holiday...not to mention the three generous personal days I get and at least one or two snow days, if not more). And I love those days and weeks that I get to hang out with Cate. I love coloring with her, trips to the library, going to the pool, the museum, the zoo, hanging out at home and just being lazy. But I also love new school supplies, sharing my love of reading and writing with my students, and the "break" from drool and dirty diapers.

Cate went to our sitter one day a week this summer and I think it saved my sanity. I spent most of those days off learning to sew. This is my newest project for Cate, which will now have to be worked on during weekend visits to my grandma's. There are two more tiers to add to this sundress I'm making for next summer. The next row will be brown and pink (the leftover material from my skirt) and the bottom row will be the pink that you see below the brown here (the leftover material from the first outfit I made Cate). So it'll kind of look like this when it's done:But I digress. Anyway, when I am home with Cate and she has a particularly fussy and cranky day, I'm ready with my earbuds in and the dog on the leash when Eric walks through the door-- I'm desperate for a break. When I'm back at work though, Cate can have the roughest day in the world and I know I'm more patient with her. Why? Because I've gotten to spend part of my day already talking with other adults, doing something I love, and not changing diapers (not that it's all about changing diapers though). It helps to know she's not spending a full 8 hour work day at our sitter either. Eric waits for her to wake up and eat breakfast before dropping her off around 8:45. I'm usually there by 3 to get her. And it helps to know that when she does start school in just a few short years, she won't need any before or after school care at all because Eric and I have such great work schedules.

I look forward to summer break because it is the longest break I get with her. But by the time August rolls around, even though I say I'm never ready to go back, a couple of days in my classroom always seem to prove that I am ready to be back. My breaks with Cate-- those days and weeks when I do get to see how it would be if I did stay at home (if I could still get paid my salary while staying at home)-- fill me up so I'm ready to go back to work. And that time at work fills me up in a different way so I'm ready to spend time with Cate after school and on breaks.

Today was my last day of summer with Cate. She went to our sitter four of the five days last week so that I could attempt to restore order to my classroom, go to a doctor's appointment and get some professional development out of the way. I was going to send her to our sitter all five days this week, but decided I really wanted that one last day with her.

So today we went to Lunken playfield with my sister-in-law (who is home on a break from med school) and some small group friends. After naptime (which wasn't really naptime because she fell asleep in the car, woke up when we got home, and laid in her crib babbling for the next hour before I showed her some mercy and just got her up to play), we played on the floor and read some books. We swung on the porch swing and took Zoey for a walk. Cate walked all the way around the block with me without the stroller...probably why she's sleeping so well now.

I wanted to experience today not from behind the lens of my camera, so I only took one picture of my sweet babe.
Yes, with dinosaur in hand. My awesome sister-in-law took a ton of pictures at the playground anyway.

It's been a great summer and I can't believe how much Cate has grown and learned. At the beginning of the summer she was a wobbly new walker. Now she can run with the best of 'em (toddlers, I mean). At the beginning of the summer she only knew a few words. Now I feel like she's learning new ones each day (broccoli, doggie, daddy, mommy, book, chicken, cheese, fish, leash, nanny, poppy, baby, hi, bye-bye, night-night, shoe, cat and go are just a few she knows). She does pretty well feeding herself oatmeal with a spoon and occasionally can manage a fork with her broccoli or green beans if she concentrates hard enough. She can entertain herself with her toys for a pretty extended period of time, can build towers with her blocks now (she only has the patience to get them about four blocks high before she knocks it down, laughing), and plays okay with other kids (we're still working on this one, but I hear it's a phase every kid goes through).

And after all of that, I'm ready for my 101 new students to walk through my door on Thursday. I'm ready to watch them grow and learn until next June, when Cate and I can begin another summer together. I'm truly blessed to have such fulfillment from both motherhood and teaching. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

~Melody :-)

P.S. I lied. I took one other picture of Cate today. With my cell phone. It's of her in Zoey's crate. I took all of Zoey's blankets out to wash them and Cate crawled right on in and shut the door.

2 comments:

The Palmer Family Blog said...

I feel the same way. I'll see you later today at professional development. (And random, but Tessa really likes dinosaurs too because of the one at the museum center - we had to buy a dinosaur ball).

Elizabeth said...

Amen! I think being a working mom also teaches our kids some very important life lessons, like how to be a responsible adult and take care of your family. Enjoy your first week back!