Last Sunday night I was feeding June in her rocking chair in her nursery. My phone pinged; someone had tweeted me. It was a previous student, and she told me that she missed my class. I responded that I missed her and her class period, too. Some classes are just magic. The chemistry is there between the students, the lessons always seem to go just right, and there is an overall feeling that we all just really like each other. It's classroom magic, and if I'm lucky I get one period a year that has that magical, sparkly feeling.
She tweeted me again and we started recalling memories- the kid who rapped his prompts, the boy who yelled out the answers during the quizzes, the Italian foreign exchange student who told us that in school in Italy he read books about nuns having sex. (We're all still trying to figure that out.) A couple of other students from the class joined in via twitter, and I was left that night with so many fond memories of the class and of teaching.
I thought about how much I enjoyed teaching and then I looked down at my little babe, now sleeping in my arms.
And I thought about how much I enjoyed mothering.
I was kind of overwhelmed in that moment with gratitude. Gratitude for my baby, gratitude for my job. I never thought I would get to do both. I used to think that once I became a mom I would have to give up teaching. It wasn't until a few years ago that I seriously considered continuing to work while I had children. It is not a decision that is right for everyone, but for me it is absolutely the right decision. I am grateful to my principal who worked with my schedule and let me work part time. I'm grateful to my school for having a daycare where June can stay and where I can feed her during my break. I am grateful that my school makes it easy for women like me to work. I am grateful to my husband who supports my desires to work. I am grateful to my June bug who willingly allows other people to hold her, kiss her, cuddle her so that I can teach seventeen year olds how to write killer thesis statements.
Balance is a tricky thing and I don't know that I'll ever have my life all balanced out. But working every other day might be the closest I'll ever come. The days I am home I feel so grateful to be there- I genuinely enjoy throwing the laundry in, running the errands, playing with my baby. And then the next day I go to work and I feel so grateful to be there. To get out of the house, to associate with adults, to contribute to society. If I taught every day this year I think I would resent my job- resent it for keeping me from my baby. If I stayed at home every day this year I think I would resent my baby- for changing my life so drastically, for taking me away from a job that I love.
I know that my situation is not the norm. But I wish it were. I wish all women could work part time if they so chose. I wish all women could have their baby downstairs in day care to feed during lunch. I wish all bosses were more willing to work with female employees so that they could have children and continue working at a job they enjoy and are good at. I have had countless women, most of them teachers (and fantastic ones at that), tell me that they would love to still work if they had a situation similar to mine. Some have told me their bosses were unwilling to work with part time teachers. Most have told me that they don't have daycare that is onsite. Right now situations like mine are few and far between, but I hope that we get to the point that that isn't the case. Is it too much to dream of onsite daycare for all jobs employing a large amount of women? Of bosses who don't consider you of less value if you only choose to work 20 or 30 works a week?
This isn't to say that this is the system that will always work for me and my family. When more kids come along it may be much trickier. But for this year it has been perfect. I don't ever let myself feel guilty for working, and I don't ever let myself feel guilty for staying at home. On both fronts I consider myself to be doing important work- and work that I truly enjoy. I don't have to choose between the two.