Should You Keep Teaching After You Start a Family?
As many of you know, when I gave birth to my son almost two years ago, I stepped away from the classroom to stay home and raise him (and his soon-to arrive sister!) I know that God wanted me to stop teaching and that He has a special plan for this season of my life. But God’s plans are not the same for everyone. I’ve recently met Elizabeth Chapman who blogs at Teaching Sam and Scout. Her situation is similar to mine in that she is also raising her young son. Yet, she felt led to continue teaching through this season. Today we are pleased to exchange posts to provide both perspectives to our readers. You can read my thoughts on why I chose to stay home here (and for more of my story, check out my post Yes, You Can Be a Stay at Home Mom (Even If You Don’t Think You Can Afford It.)
And here are Elizabeth’s thoughts on why she felt led to continue teaching and how she’s balancing her home and school responsibilities.
When I was pregnant with Sam (who is now three), I was in my fourth year of teaching. For all intents and purposes, being a teacher was my “dream job;” but, as my belly grew, my priorities shifted too. All those years that I had been “playing school” as a little girl, I was also “playing house.” Deep inside me, there was the longing (dare I say, calling) to BOTH of those dreams.
I discovered an interesting paradigm at that time. At work, no one really ever asked me if I was going to come back to work after the baby was born; it was just assumed that I would. Instead, the questions revolved around how long I would be out, who would do my long-term subbing, and who would keep Sam once I started back. At church, on the other hand, I suddenly noticed that most of the moms around me (women I loved and respected a lot), had “given up” their careers to stay home full time after having children. I was asked frequently whether or not I planned to go back to work; and, to be honest, I often got the clear feeling that the only acceptable reason to work after having kids was because I “had” to – financial, or other reasons.
In the end, although I was a little tormented by some of those opinions early on, I knew what my decision would be. As the daughter of a phenomenal teacher and the colleague of many excellent mothers, I had great examples in my life to prove that I COULD follow both of my dreams – motherhood and teaching. And, now three years in to this “working mom” gig, I am convinced that with a lot of prayer, grace, and a little extra planning, I can be GOOD at both of them.
Let me be clear… There are days when every part of me wants to home for every little minute with Sam. I miss out on some of the things like class parties at his preschool and conversations over PB&Js at lunchtime. But, if I’m being 100% honest, there are also days when I’m SO glad to have my job too. I get to – literally – influence hundreds of teenagers every day. I get to see it when writing an essay “clicks” for them, or when they devour a novel and fall in love with reading – some for the first time. I get to read college essays and talk about real life and help the kids I’ve come to know and love make important decisions about their future. I also get a quiet place to gather my thoughts at the end of the day before heading home, blog over my lunch break, and wear cute clothes 5 out of 7 days. 😉
In my case, I am choosing to be a working mom. Yes, I’d be lying if I said the money doesn’t matter at all, or that I don’t enjoy some of the perks of having a dual-income household; BUT, that has very little to do with why I work. We have lived on one income, we have lived on a part-time income, and I have spent extended time at home with Sam (think: summer breaks). I KNOW we could do that (and maybe one day God will call us to again); but, for now, I work because I really love it, AND I love the person it makes me.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I chose to continue teaching after starting a family:
- Parenting is about QUALITY not QUANTITY. When I come home in the afternoon, I’m ready to give my best self to Sam. We make the most of our time together – especially over holidays and summer break – and I treasure “the normal” of those days at home as much as I do the extra fun days filled with play dates and “field trips.”
- I think it is important for my children to see me doing something that is life-giving every day – to myself and to others. I love that they will grow up watching me work hard at something that I am passionate about. Teaching allows me to show (not just tell) my own precious little boy that we are best when we are doing what makes us come alive – that we can be passionate about lots of things, and we can do anything, that hard work is worth it, and anything that is worth it will require work.
- I want my children to grow up in community. My husband and I are blessed to be starting our family in our hometown; so, naturally, Sam has four grandparents that get to spend a lot of time with him and ADORE him. But, in addition to that, I love the community we have built of people to help us and treat him as their own. I am so thankful for the influence and love of an amazing babysitter, wonderful preschool teachers, and friends, neighbors, etc.
- Teaching is my ministry. God made me a teacher. He gave me gifts in teaching, in relationships, in speaking and writing. He gave me a heart for young people, a mission field in the high school, and hundreds of students to love like Jesus does. We may not have “religion in schools” today; but, God has given me the opportunity to show up in the lives of young people every.single.day. I have the privilege of praying for them, knowing them, and loving them (even when they are unlovable). Just like he made me a daughter and a mother and a wife – he put this desire to teach inside me and equipped me for that ministry. Maybe one day God will call me down a different road; and, when he does, I pray that I would have ears to hear that. BUT, for now, it is my honor to “live a life worthy of [this] calling” (Ephesians 4:1).
- I am a better mom/wife/etc. when I am working. I really am just one of those people that thrives off of routine and having something to do outside of the house every day. (Just ask my husband as we go on month two of me being home for the summer.) Teaching makes me smarter, stronger, kinder, more patient, and – let’s face it – younger. My job keeps me from being stagnant; it keeps me “up with the times.” It keeps me active and laughing – always laughing. In addition, I am more productive and intentional with my time when I am working. For now, the balance of both of these roles IS what’s best for my little family.
A Few Closing Thoughts:
If you are a teacher who, like Linda, has made the decision to stay home full time for this season of your life, please know how much I respect that. I think God calls us all to different roles, and what He says to me might be completely opposite what He says to you. I believe you ARE still a teacher, and I value your commitment to your family and your obedience to God as you focus your time and energy right now on teaching your own little one.
And, if you are a teacher-mom like me, I hope you’ve found some hope and encouragement in my post today. I’d love for you to visit my blog Teaching Sam and Scout. (The title is a play on the fact that I teach my son, Sam, and literature – like the novel To Kill a Mockingbird who’s lead character is Scout.) There, I blog about my life as a mom and teacher and the way God has called me and equipped me to do both of those things. (I also blog about shopping, clothes, and style for fun. Haha!) If you liked this post, check out “On Choosing to Be a Working Mom” and “Why I Teach” there and please come by and say hello some time. I feel SO strongly about uniting those of us that feel called to both roles and changing some of the stigmas about WHY we work. I’d love to hear your story and connect with you!!
It’s been my pleasure to share here today!
The Other Perspective
Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing with us. It’s great to hear how God works in different people’s lives.
If you’d like to hear why I (Linda) decided to stop teaching and stay home with my family, click here to read my thoughts, shared today on Elizabeth’s blog Teaching Sam and Scout.
Did you keep working or step away when you started a family? What advice would you share with young moms?
Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu