The Decision

I’m very excited to host Shannon from A Crafty Mom this week as part of the Won’t You Be My Neighbor series.  I REALLY love this series, as always thanks to Amy for sharing it.

Shannon’s blog is so many things (literally, you’ll see that each of her children has a Thing label, Thing 1, 2 & 3), she’s a captivating storyteller, offers practical and clever advice and shares glimpses of her incredible crafts and creativity. I enjoy reading because I always come away with something for me, something for my children, and an overall feeling of comfort. Her blog is just a lot of fun!

The Decision

I recently wrote a series of posts on learning on my blog.

For those who read that series, yes, I am the teacher in the story. I wrote those posts to try to reignite and remember a deep passion I used to have for teaching.

As some of my long-time readers are aware, I have struggled on and off over the past few years with my decision to stay home with my three Things. At times I felt it would be better for me to return to work, and at other times I couldn’t in good faith fathom leaving my children every morning with someone who wasn’t their mother.

And really, if I’m being honest, I still struggle with this whole concept. If you know me well, you will know that I am one of those moms that kind of got hooked on this stay-at-home mom gig. I like to cook, I like to do crafts, I like to prepare lessons and teach my kids, I am adept at organization, and I have no fear taking all three of my kids to a museum for the afternoon all by myself. Over the years – and there have been six of them, to be exact – I have evolved from a stumbling, pathetic fool of a first-time-mother who didn’t have a clue what she was doing to a stay-at-home-mom of three kids under six who navigates her way through a week pretty damn well.

That being said, it’s tough, so don’t think it’s all giggles and sunshine. We have had our share of ups and downs, and managing a newborn baby girl when I had both a two and three-year-old at home will definitely always be something I consider one of my greatest accomplishments. What exactly did I accomplish, you ask? Uh, we’re all alive, aren’t we? We sit here, days before my oldest son’s sixth birthday and Thing 2 is four and a half and the wee little girl is now two years old. We are out of bibs, we are out of high chairs, we are (*nearly*) out of diapers, we all speak in full, cohesive sentences, we eat normal, regular, non-pureed food . . . and the kicker? I have somehow squeaked through the hell that is surviving those difficult baby years and am emerging on the other side with three, normal and well-adjusted children who play well together. Who are – dare I say it – friends?

Each year, as the anniversary of the date Thing 1 was born approaches, I receive my annual correspondence from the school board requesting the status of my job. Since I requested a sixth year of unpaid leave from the board last year, and was granted it, I am finally at the end of my proverbial “leave of absence” rope. This is it, friends. No more staying home to raise my kids with my “back-up plan” in my back pocket. My latest task is to inform the board of my return to work, or to provide them with a resignation letter.

To some of you this will seem like a no-brainer. Many moms decide to stay home and raise their children and not return to work. Other moms choose to work part-time, full-time, or something in between. Some because they have to, and others due to a strong desire to do so.

I had dreams of making a chunk of extra cash while I was staying at home. I mean, look at Dooce, she did it, right?? I figured between my crafts, my writing, and some tutoring I could once again be a bread-winner in this family. I waffled. I mused. Depending on how much coffee I had had to drink, the mood of my children, the weather, and perhaps what song I had been listening to on the radio that day, my decision teetered back and forth. It became so ridiculous that I started to just want a decision made for me. (For those who don’t know me well, I suck at that??)

And so it seems that, finally, the universe is sending me some messages.

If I return to work in September 2010, my salary is going to be much higher than I expected. It has increased while I have been on leave, changing our budget drastically and making the amount I will bring home after expenses (day care, meals, commute, clothing) much more appealing. There are also the benefits (which my husband does not receive right now as he is consulting) and that elusive pension. Add summers off, and March Break, and two weeks vacation at Christmas. That’s not to say that the next couple years won’t be difficult – I will likely be placed in a school with which I am not familiar, with new teaching standards and procedures, in a grade I have not taught before leaving me with no lesson plans. It will be a lot of hard work. Long, hard days in the classroom followed by late nights planning lessons and marking.

But given my passion for teaching, and the fact that my children are older, more independent, and fairly well-adjusted, I feel like the writing is on the wall. I owe it to myself, and to my family to give this full-time working thing a real shot.

I hope I am able to navigate the ropes of life as both teacher and mother. If you have any words of wisdom you like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment for Shannon below and remember to visit her at A Crafty Mom. You’ll be tremendously entertained and will likely pick up a tip or two for your repository of motherhood tricks.

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