I spent eight years teaching and I can honestly say that I loved it. I never woke up not wanting to go to work. I felt lucky to be in my profession. Some might argue that it’s the best job in the world: rewarding, ever-changing, and the daily ability to make a difference in kids’ lives.
My eight years of teaching were followed by eight years off. We moved around with my husband’s work, started a family, and I stayed home with our kids. It was also rewarding, ever-changing, and I was making a difference in my own kids’ lives. I will also add challenging, because no doubt, being a stay at home mom most definitely is.
We’re back home now, and with my daughters both about to start school, I’ve made the conscious decision that it’s time to go back to work. I’m scared, nervous, excited, and worried. My babies are leaving the nest, so to speak, and if they need me, I won’t be able to drop everything and run quite as easily as I once could. I’ll be at work for the first time in our lives together.
I can picture how that first day will look.
My classroom with be thoughtfully prepared, with children’s name tags on hooks and centres neatly organised. Kindergarten is a big deal. It will be the first time these kids will experience school: New faces, a big building, and rules to follow. The change can be overwhelming.
Luckily in kindergarten, parents are often there on the first day to ease the transition.
Parents, I can envision your children: the shy one, hiding behind your leg; the excited one, pulling you to go see something new; the nervous student; the curious one; the one who already knows the school because their sibling goes there; the new student who hasn’t met any neighborhood kids yet; and the one who is crying because they don’t want you to leave.
On the first day of school emotions run high.
But I will be there, with a friendly welcome and a warm smile, assuring your children that they can let go of your leg and loosen the grip on your hand. I will make sure they know they are safe and I am there for them.
But there’s one thing I won’t show.
I won’t let on that while I am welcoming your child, my heart is breaking just a little.
Across the city, in another kindergarten classroom, my own child is also experiencing her first day of school. I can’t hold her hand and show her to the hook will her name. I can’t encourage her to go meet her classmates and I can’t give her a kiss when it’s time for the parents to leave. She won’t have my leg to cling to if she’s nervous, because as a teacher, I will never be able to be there for my child’s first day of school.
I’m missing those moments with my own children, because I am choosing to be there for yours.
So please know that I will care for your child and treat them kindly, because across town, I know someone is doing the same for mine.
Every job has aspects that aren’t ideal. And some teachers might not think it’s a big deal. But this Mama Bear is holding back the tears as she tries to deal with the absolute worst part of the best job in the world.