Monday, August 20, 2012

Just Mama a Little Bit Longer

Two months ago I thought this blog was over. When I started writing it I always figured I'd end with my one year anniversary and go back to work part time or start a new blog calling it Just Mama and More.  But the More wasn't part of God's plan, at least not for now.

July was a tough month.  I had been holding on to my job praying that something might work out in the school district for a part time teaching position.  I desperately wanted to job share (work 2 days a week) or teach home bound (students too sick to be in a classroom) like I did when I was still pregnant with Naomi. This would enable me to bring in some income but still skirt the full blown cost of daycare for two.  But there were no positions open within the time frame needed and I couldn't leave my very patient principal waiting forever.

As a former colleague of mine put it, "God decided for you..." When my grandma was diagnosed with colon cancer a month ago that made up my mind for me.  I submitted my official resignation July 18th, packed up my personal belongings in my classroom, and to my great surprise fell apart on the car ride home.  Over seven years I had worked at this place where I smiled, laughed, cried, and most importantly grew as an educator and an individual.  Handing over my I.D. badge was so final.  A door had closed and it was....frightening.  But why?

What was my problem, I wondered over and over.   This is like a super awesome opportunity I have, to watch my girls grow up. Why did I feel so heartbroken to leave teaching when just a year ago I was so overjoyed to do it? Like staying home was OK as long as I had a job to go back to in case things didn't work out. I thought about it for a couple hours which became days, and fogged into weeks.

The question was placed on the back burner as life trudged on.  The guest bathroom mold  funk started to spread, the respiratory problems reappeared, and my credit score continued to sink along with my morale as Evil Mortgage Company needed yet another packet of paperwork to "consider" our Short Sale application. Then we found the perfect 2 bed 2 bath rental, clean, safe, and just the right price-a light through the chaos.  But in the end our credit was too shaky and my heart was broken.  First Evil Mortgage Company denied us refinancing on our house because we were current on our mortgage and could "easily" make our payments.  Then they denied us refinancing because our credit score wasn't good enough. So we can't own a home that is falling apart and we can't rent anything decent either! The whole thing made me furious and sick at the same time!

That's when my parents proposed an interesting solution.  Move in with them temporarily.  That way we could save money and build up our credit again.   Eager to remove the girls from breathing in the mold in our house, we began the painstaking task of going though everything and packing.  I felt like I was on autopilot, stopping only to make visits to the hospital to see my grandma and check my emails.  But due to the stress of it all the desire to write was gone.  I made a few sad attempts here and there but all that I produced was dribble.

Writing had always made me happy.  It was my stress relief, something that made people laugh.  Like teaching, I felt like I was good at it.   Your students made progress, awesome job!  Tommy understands the difference between prime and composite numbers for the first time ever, fantastic!  His parents can't believe the social growth their child has made under your guidance, you're a Godsend! Your students actually like to learn and are eager to come to school, You're a marvel! When teaching, I felt successful. Changing a diaper and wiping poopy bottoms and runny noses-not so much.

Like today as I didn't feel successful as I watched my tantruming three year old slam her feet against my bedroom door, slowly moving her time out chair across the floor.  I didn't feel worthy of praise as I pried out a banana peel wedged between Naomi's teeth and surveyed the toys and mashed fruit sticky on the tile floor I had just vacuumed and steam mopped that morning. I certainly didn't feel appreciated as Jenna screamed "I HATE YOU, MOMMY!!!!"  between sobs as I tried to explain to my youngest, "We only eat the inside of the banana, not the peel!" Like a dog defending his bone, Naomi only dug her tiny hands and teeth into the "gift" Jenna had stolen from the fruit bowl because she thought it was funny for Naomi to "eat like a monkey."

Some days, like this one, I feel like I stink at my job as a mom. If there was a hidden camera channeling a live feed of my mom disaster moments to cyber space I just know a former student would be compiling them for a video montage set to go viral next month: Large red letters spelling FAIL across my face. And even when things do go right the mommy profession is very much a thankless job. No one is there to show you charts of how many new words or skills your child has acquired this month compared to other's around the nation, or graphs of new social accomplishments your child has because of all the play dates or story time meetings you've scheduled.  The closest thing I've had to a pat-on-the-back is the pediatrician checkups where at least I can hear, "Great job on her skin, mom, what are you using at bath time?" or "Look at that measurement, she is off the chart for brain development-Keep doing what you're doing!"

If life offered award's mommys would be nominated as unsung heroes.  There are many successful moments that go unnoticed and unappreciated and I don't think the real impact of what we do on a daily basis really becomes clear until our children are grown.  That is a long time to wait....that is why I think it is so important that we give ourselves credit where credit is due.  We may not be perfect, but we give our all everyday-even if all we have left is an exhausted version of ourselves with a twitching eye.

Today was the first day of school and I was there not because I was teaching but I was bringing my Jenna  to her preschool classroom.  I am a stay at home mom.  Not the easiest job but most definitely the most important as far as my girls are concerned (even if they don't know it yet ). In the mean time I'm going to move the fruit bowl to the top of the fridge, go a little easier on myself, and try to fit in the things that I enjoy-just for me- just a little bit longer.  It's not exactly true to the title but I'm hoping you won't mind if Just Mama is a little bit more than a year.