Before I became a
mother, I began feeling confident enough in my new profession as teacher to
start stepping up and taking on leadership roles. Once I became pregnant,
though, I knew that my days of volunteering to do all the things were numbered.
Life was about to get pretty hectic.
Once I returned to
work, I was just trying to keep my head above water as I figured out routines
and balance between career and family. I said no a lot. I had officially leaned
out as a working mom. And comments from female coworkers, albeit older
colleagues, about how they were so mystified that I'm able to work full time
AND have a baby did not help any as I grappled with the fact that I was losing
ground in my profession.
Three and a half years
later, I found myself in a new role as a Reading Intervention teacher with a
lot more responsibility on my shoulders. And I found myself pregnant once again.
began questioning if leaning in was something I could continue to do. I
loved challenging myself and leading my colleagues; however, I knew that the
crazy parenting was about to get even crazier with two. I kept trudging
At the start of the
next school year, as I was approaching 30 weeks pregnant, my principal
approached and asked if I'd be interested in stepping up to be an Instructional
Specialist. I was honored that he thought I was a skilled
teacher and could help lead my staff in a new capacity. Before I even had a
chance to answer, he said to me that being pregnant and going on maternity
leave would have no effect in his mind about my abilities to do this job.
Yes I'll do the extra work needed to fulfill my role as a leader in my school district. But no, I won't have it done tomorrow, or maybe not even by Friday, because I know my limits and my sanity is more important to me. Give me time.
if he thought I could do it, I knew that leaning in even closer was something I
could try. He has always said to our staff that family comes first; he was
valuing my role as a mother, yet still knew that would not keep me from doing
an excellent job in a more intensive leadership role.
Once I returned from
maternity leave, though, I began to think that I was nuts for taking on the role
of Instructional Specialist. Even though my class load was lessened, there was more
work and extra meetings to tend to. Couple that with a baby who reverted back
to newborn sleep, and you'll understand that I was drowning in a sea of chaos. What
kept me going through all of this, though, was my passion for my profession.
You see, I'm one of those moms who chooses to work; one who would feel lost
without a fulfilling career.
Ten months later, as
I'm currently in the midst of a new school year, I'm finally seeing the rocky
waters calm. What's helping is my new
mantra: I come first. No matter what, I have to put myself above everyone
else's needs. That means that I'm learning the balance of knowing when to lean
in and when to lean out.
I'm rewarded in my profession as I help my struggling
readers become more confident in their abilities, as well as finding joy in
helping my colleagues grapple with a difficult shift in education. And yet, I'm
also very much rewarded when I see what amazing girls I have.
I'll go to monthly meetings after a full day's work. But I'll also say no
if that meeting falls on a day that is mine to pick up my oldest from school.
Yes I'll come in to school at 6:30am for a meeting with team leaders. But I'll
also say no if I know I need a little extra sleep to keep me going. Yes I'll
take some of my precious teacher planning time to meet with colleagues. But
I'll also say no if you want to meet with me for 10 minutes after school when
I'm looking forward to post-school snuggles with my girls. Yes I'll do the
extra work needed to fulfill my role as a leader in my school district. But no,
I won't have it done tomorrow, or maybe not even by Friday, because I know my
limits and my sanity is more important to me. Give me time.
I feel like I've grown
tremendously into my role as a working mom who is furthering her career, yet
who still puts herself and family first. As I'm in the midst of my 8th
year as a teacher and in the throes of being a mom to two small girls, I've
never felt happier or more fulfilled in my entire life. As I lean in to my
career, I'm also leaning in to my family. And that's the balance that is
achievable. It's never an equal balance, but I'm finally able to stay afloat.