As a little girl, I played school in my basement for hours on end, where I had a fully set up classroom complete with borders and bulletin boards and stickers and worksheets that I salvaged from my elementary teachers on the last day of school. It was no surprise to anyone who knew me that I graduated college with a degree in Elementary Education and went on to teach for the next 13 years.
As a little girl, I loved playing with dolls. I idolized being a mom, and there weren't many places I went without one of my dolls in tow. I remember one time my brother and I went to our local park just down the street, me with my doll in a stroller when I tried to convince total strangers that the doll was in fact a real baby. Ha! I began babysitting at quite a young age, and most of my spare time in my adolescent years was filled up with babysitting kids in my neighborhood. People who know me will not be surprised to hear that in college, many of my friends in fact called me "mom" as I was the one they went to for things like help with making meals, ironing their clothes, helping them with schoolwork, or knocking on my dorm room door at all hours of the night for a shoulder to cry on.
My two worlds collided during my 9th year of teaching, when in fact, I did become a mom. It was one of the happiest times in my life as a new mom, yet one of the loneliest years of teaching I had ever had. I returned to work after 5 months of staying home with our twins, which was, to under-exaggerate, hard. I felt trapped at work, while all I wanted to do was be home with my littles. Since I was pumping that year, any down time I had at school, including my lunch break, was spent locked in my classroom by myself, hooked up to a breast pump, where I would stare out the window and just cry, wondering how I would get through. I would compare myself to other working moms who seemed to "do it all" with such grace, and end up feeling even worse. And, just when I'd start to think I had pulled myself together for another school year, I ended up in the ER on the first week of school, not just once, but 2 years in a row--later learning that I was experiencing anxiety attacks and had to begin a daily regimen of taking anti-anxiety medication.
|The boys (6 months old) visiting me in my classroom at school.|
|Over the years, I created a classroom environment that I was proud of!|
|The boys (2.5 years old) visiting me in my classroom at school.|
I couldn't do it any more.
|My classroom all cleared out, the day I left, with eyes filled with tears and overwhelming emotion.|
And every once in awhile, my days are filled with real "work" which has now taken the shape of being a birth doula to a few special mommas each month. It has been a leap of faith to venture down this path and leave behind everything I know from a "real" job as a teacher. Doula work is fulfilling in ways I cannot even put into words. To help someone on one of the most transformative days in their life is an honor I do not take lightly.
Sometimes my life doesn't feel real. I sometimes feel like I am living in a dream. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like the best version of myself, yet when people ask me what I do for a living, I awkwardly pause as I don't really know how to answer the question. My whole life I worked towards being a teacher. And now, I'm just a mom. Just a mom. How does a mom convey her true "lessons" that she tries to teach everyday? The lessons of kindness, strength, courage, and most importantly love?
|My boys (5 years old) and I, at home.|