Summer vacation always seems to fly by at warp speed. It was just June, and now suddenly the days are getting shorter, the leaves have a golden hue to them, and there's a chill in the night air. And for this family of teachers, there's the transition from the lazy, family-filled summer days back into a whirlwind of newly sharpened pencils, meeting students, and grading papers.
There was a time in my teaching career where I could throw myself into a new school year full throttle ahead without a second thought about my personal life. Now, going back to school means scrambling to find a healthy balance between being an effective teacher and being the best mother for Madeline. Mother guilt sets in. Teacher guilt sets in. I'm still learning how to do both jobs well.
There always seems to be a slightly contentious debate over the life of the working mother versus the life of the stay-at-home mother. Which woman has it harder? Who is sacrificing more? Who is helping their children more?
In some small way, summer vacations allow me to have the best of both worlds. I get to stay home for two months a year, and the rest of the year I work. When I see these debates playing out on blogs or through the comment sections on newspaper articles, I find myself agreeing with both sides.
Both jobs are equally hard in different ways. Both jobs require huge sacrifices in different ways. Both jobs both benefit and disadvantage children in different ways. The debate is pointless.
I love the time I get to spend with Madeline when I'm home. It's so much fun to see her learn and grow every moment of the day. It's tremendously rewarding, but it can also be frustrating, isolating, and a bit monotonous. To top it off, I'm spoiled with an at-home husband to share the burden during the summer months. Without him, I can only imagine that the negative aspects of staying at home would be even more intense.
On the other hand, while work gives me social, intellectual, and financial rewards, I hate missing out on so much of Madeline's day. Besides, the responsibility of taking care of your house and child don't go away...it's just combined with the responsibility of work. By the time we see one another in the afternoon, I'm a walking zombie and she's a cranky patty. Zombie moms aren't fun. They eat brains.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the grass is always greener. By the end of the summer, I'm ready to get back to work. Yet, as soon as I get back to work, I long to be home with Madeline.
Honestly, the desire to stay home has been stronger than the desire to work in recent months. I am lucky to be employed, lucky to be able to help support my family, lucky to like my job and the people I work with. But, pretty soon my baby won't be a baby any more and the opportunity to be a full-time parent will have passed me by.
It also doesn't help that Madeline got bitten by a classmate....twice...on her first day back to school yesterday. Apparently, there was a turf war over the play kitchen in her new big-kid room. Secondly, I let her sleep in this morning because she was so wiped out from yesterday, so I missed her all day long. Furthermore, when Eric told her she was going to school this morning, she started crying, "I no like school." Heart. Break. In Half.
In another week or two, we'll all be back to our normal routines, and it will be like summer vacation never even happened. In the meantime, I'll try not to look too hard at the grass on the other side of the fence.