79 days, folks. A pregnancy that seemed it had just scarcely begun is now over, and we have time as parents growing behind us.
I return to work on this upcoming Tuesday. I consider myself a fool for sitting here writing about my sorrow when I could very well be hogging the waning hours of "Mallory time" I have left. But Michael is nuzzling with her on the couch while they watch football together, and keeping the blog helps me release some of the emotional pressure I tend to bottle up.
So how did I did I make my decision to go back and finish up the school year? Sure, things like salary and state benefits factored in. I like making money, contributing to our society via skills and taxes, and putting my own education to use. Then there were articles I read about staying at home versus returning to work. They had me leaning more toward going back to work since studies had shown that stay-at-home moms run a higher risk of depression.
|It's tough to imagine parting with our little beauty 5 days a week.|
"Are you coming back?"I still haven't figured out why this question made me tear up. Maybe it's because I wasn't secure in my decision. Maybe it's because I'm comfortable enough around them to be vulnerable. Either way, I didn't expect the sudden stinging in my eyes and held Mallory a little tighter against my chest. And to make it even more difficult, Tamela gently put it out there:
"You know, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if we had to find a replacement in the middle of the school year."It was my dinner party, and I was crying. And I didn't really want to. But at least I knew that my team supported any decision I made, even if it meant more work for them. Four of them are mothers. Not only had they been in my shoes, they had worn holes in them.
I still needed time to make a final decision.
Two days after the party, I visited my classroom. The highlight of the day was the holiday party my kids were having, as it was the last day before the 2-week winter break. Maria, my substitute, had them engaged in games and fun writing prompts. The room mother arranged for my kids to have pizza for lunch. I expected my students to give me a couples of hugs, wave at Mallory, and return to their plates of confections and cheesy greasiness, but I was way off. Despite the fact I had been away from them for 8 weeks, they brought me gifts, food, and poems. They fought for my attention to catch me up on their educational successes and progress. They bragged about what treats or drinks they contributed to the party. One boy, Dre, showed me the personalized gift he had made for Maria: a frame of boldly printed words reflecting their relationship as teacher-and-student in my absence. He had matured in my absence and was proud of his growth. I was proud of him, too.
One child's father came by to drop off a gift for both Maria and myself, taking the time to pull me aside and tell me how much I have meant to his son. When he told me I was his son's favorite teacher, I couldn't help with my reply, "But I only had him for 9 weeks before my maternity leave!" The father's response: "You're not the kind of teacher who's here for a paycheck. It's obvious you are here because you love what you do and you love your kids."
|Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook saw this photo posted last month.|
A true example of sacrifice and sharing a skill (drawing Yogi Bear!) in gift-giving.
That did it. I was going back to work. My kids showed me how much they need me because, even if it's only for 18 more weeks of their lives, I am a reliable source of love, discipline, and knowledge. Does it make me less of a parent to Mallory to commit to a room of 26 fifth graders? Heck no! Do I realize how hard it's going to be at times? Of course. Other women go back to their classrooms all the time…with 4 kids at home. Or a severely ill child. Or a non-supportive husband. Or no husband at all. Or a really long commute. Or a second job on the weekends. Do they love their children any less? I should think not.
It was not an easy decision, but I made it. I can change my mind for the next school year. I might research jobs or new careers that will allow me to work part-time or at home (like writing the next bestseller, right?). But as for now, I return to work on Tuesday. I expect to cry when I drop Mallory off…and think about her as I drive away…and when I text at lunch time to check in... It'll be my first time giving our daughter to someone other than family to care for her. Emotions will run high, and thankfully, we have a great babysitter, Christina, who I've known since I was in high school. We were fortunate to have her living so close.
Now let's put it all in perspective. This time last year, we had reached our 19th month of negative pregnancy tests. On Tuesday, 3 January 2011, I will be a working mom.