Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mom Vs. Teacher: The Conflict Within

I take a lot of pride in being a teacher.  When I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living, I typically know how it's going to play out:  "What do you do for a living?"  I'm a teacher. "Oh, nice.  What grade?"  I teach High School.  "Oh wow!  What subject do you teach?"  I'm a math teacher.  "Oh!  I was never good at math, you must be smart."

I'm not going to get into the the whole topic about people's perception about math, but I have a secret to admit; I FEEL smart when they say things like that to me.  I can do something a lot of other people are scared too even talk about: teach math.  I love being a math teacher and most of the respect (fear?) that comes with it.  People think I'm smart without even really knowing me.

A lot of my identity is formed through being a teacher.  That's how hundreds of people know me.  But I have other identities too.  I'm a daughter, a wife, and a mother.  I'm a friend, a sister, and a neighbor.  I sit here with this inner conflict this morning because my son is sick.  Yesterday there was no contest.  He was sick I stayed home from work.  But now this is the second day in a row where he's rather ill and I am torn inside.  Should I take another day and stay home with my son, or is missing two day of work in a row too much?

I needed some perspective.  I tried to look down the road a few years and predict how this will impact ALL of my children.  My students:  I would be extremely surprised if any of the students remembered that I wasn't present for two days.  My son:  He may not remember that I took off of work, but he'll remember the trip to the ER we took together, he'll remember me fighting with him to drink something or to try to take a nap, he may even remember that we watched the movie Ghost Busters more times than I'm willing to admit on this blog.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a mother first, and although I'm not required to work during the summer, it doesn't seem like enough.  Smart or not smart, sometimes one roll has to take a backseat to another roll.


  1. Oh , the guilt that comes with being a mother! I am very Type A and need to be prepared and in control in my classroom, but sometimes my 3 year old has different plans. I just try to go with the flow and realize he won't be little very long. I actually enjoy stay-home-sick days when (once we are home from the doctor and pharmacy), we snuggle under the blankets, watch movies and talk. Life is too short - enjoy your babies while you can :-)

  2. It's definitely a balancing act. Last year I was on so many committees I was rarely home after school to meet my two elem sons off the bus. I felt great guilt. This year I scaled back my committee work because I definitely felt my family needs to come first. As far as sick days go, I have three boys so three times the sick days throughout the year. I am very lucky that my husband and parents are able to help out. It really is a Godsend that both my parents are retired and will come stay if one of the boys are sick. The thing is, even when that happens I feel guilty because I feel like I should be there as their mom. Some days are easier to take off than others. When I started to feel like I was a great teacher, but my mom role was suffering because of that I had to reevaluate. It definitely helps if you have a great sub that can take over and actually teach. I am very blessed this year because I have a couple subs that are awesome. I don't feel guilty if I miss because I know they are doing a quality job of teaching my students. Hugs!

  3. Hi. My own baby is 21 today. When did that happen? Yes, they grow up too fast.

    We constantly make difficult choices. The economist would say at any point in time we choose what gives us the most marginal utility.

    If your son was sick, your staying home was the most important thing to do.

    Jerry Tuttle

  4. We all must feel this way: the endless guilt, the balancing act, our work-is-never-done at home or at school. "... if any of the students remembered that I wasn't present for two days." This is a great reminder, Nora, that you're right, our own children feel the impact way more than our students. Thanks for sharing.