Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I love school

When I first got married and started to think about having kids, I thought that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) would be the right choice for me. I have a rather inflated opinion of myself and I think I'm incredibly competent, but I'm always losing my battles with laziness and inertia. Adding more things to my to-do list did not seem like a good idea. My mom always worked, but she somehow managed to be home when I needed her and have dinner on the table and keep track of everything we were up to. If there's one thing I'm confident of in this life, it's that I am not as together as my mother. I used to worry that she would think I was making a judgement about her working by making a different choice myself, but the truth is that it was a simple judgement of my own abilities.

The reality of SAHM-ness is miles and miles (and miles) away from my imaginary world. My kids drive me crazy most days, but not even the kind of crazy I used to imagine. It's not so much the things they do (OK, sometimes it's the things they do) as the relentlessness of being with them and being solely responsible for them. Go-go is charming and clever and full of fun. Mui-mui is cute as a button and it's amazing to watch her figure out new things. After a few hours of cute and clever and fun, I just need them to leave me alone. Stop climbing on my head, stop asking if we can play one more game of Connect Four, stop climbing on the counter to get the cookies, stop demanding my undivided attention (pretty please)!

Which is why I love school. Three mornings a week I get to get dressed (in professional clothes even), go talk to grown-ups (well, close enough to grown-ups), use big words (and explain the big words to my students), remember that I have a brain, and not be around my children. When my mom time is smaller and balanced with some grownup time, I am a much better mom. I have the sanity to paint with them, and do play-doh, and go play in the snow. And I've found that as I give them real attention, they stop being so demanding and momhood doesn't feel quite so relentless. For me, adding things to my to-do list actually makes the whole thing more manageable.

I've taught on and off since Go-go was born, so this obviously isn't a new revelation. But it's been a solid year since I've had a teaching gig and I'd forgotten how much better I am as a working mom (even if it's very part-time right now). So, three cheers for the start of a new semester!
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