Before kids, I was a middle school teacher. I loved it. The quirkiness and awkwardness of the age resonated with me, and I found joy in my work. I was engaged in my career. I had started a cross-country program and an ESL program, I ran a middle school for three years, I mentored teachers, and I earned my master’s degree while collecting multiple certifications. The district I worked for had a mission I agreed with and a student body I connected with and cared about. I never saw myself leaving. I had found what I was looking for.
And then I had a lot of children. My career was no longer in alignment with
Having four children turned my world upside down. Not only were we blessed with four healthy, beautiful babies, we were also blessed with four spirited, strong-willed, and fiercely independent children in the span of five years.
Our oldest just started kindergarten. There is no calm in our day. From the moment the first one wakes up until the last one falls asleep, our family is in a constant state of extreme emotional management. As each child arrived, I took time away from work, and then I went back. Even after my fourth child was born, I went back. The baby was 10 months old, and we were four children deep. I tried to keep work simple — I tried to not take on extra tasks, I tried to keep work at work, I tried not to work too hard. But that was not who I was. I loved teaching and I could not be less than my best at it.
See, I thought I could be great at mommying while being great at teaching. I planned birthday parties, attended school events, packed five lunches every night, and scheduled play dates and outings. By social media standards, I was killing it. But I wasn’t. I was on autopilot, and there were glitches I had no time to catch or fix.
My family needed me more than I needed to work.
Our life had turned into a daily comedy act. Scenes of wicked early drop-offs, empty lunch boxes, babywearing while teaching, mixed up and missed appointments and plans, and a frazzled, defeated mom happened regularly. And that doesn’t even touch on the formidable laundry pile, TV-style dinners, irregular bath schedules, and lack of exercise! On top of it all, my husband travels for work. So there were many days where I was a one-woman show, with four small, stressed-out children clinging to my pant legs, desperate for my presence.
My kids and family needed me. I wanted to work, but I didn’t need to work. And I had become persistently exhausted, easily agitated, definitely no fun, and wicked stressed out. I had papers to grade, projects to plan, content to study, and curriculum to write — and it had to come home. I turned down opportunities to read, play, and engage with my children. Family outings were overshadowed by anxiety and worry about getting home and finding time to lesson plan. Chicken fingers and pizza deliveries became the daily dinner for both children and adults.
I was becoming someone new.
My heart had become heavy. Something had to change. Over the course of seven weeks, my husband and I listened to a collection of sermons at our church titled “Sunday to Monday,” which explored our purpose in our work. Those sermons provided us a platform to talk about what we both knew needed to happen in our home. After many conversations and chatting with moms who work, don’t work, wished they worked, wished they didn’t work, and after looking at our family’s day-to-day interactions, I realized that my calling to be a school teacher was over. My calling had transformed into mothering four beautifully intense children and teaching them to be the good in this world. I love my family and want them to have the best of me. It was time to give them that. The universe was telling me to let go.
So I let go.
Leaving my teaching career was extremely difficult. I cried. A lot. But I was done, and it felt right. See, I want to give my all to whatever I choose to do. And right now I choose to be a stay-at-home mom to my babies. I might reinvent myself, eventually. I believe we may have multiple callings. Just because I was always a teacher, doesn’t mean I will always be a teacher. Now I can be something else. Or I could just be a mom. Or, maybe a writer. Maybe the universe will point me toward another opportunity that I can’t yet see. I don’t know quite yet what’s next, but one thing I will forever be is a mother. So that’s what I’m proudly focusing on now. And it’s still mad crazy, but a lot more fun and manageable.