Around 5 a.m., my alarm vibrates me awake. Creeping across our old house, careful not to step on the wood boards that will squeak and wake my son and husband, I spend the next hour hustling to get everything ready for my day. If I do a good job of being quiet, I'll leave before my son wakes. Why? Because I'm a teacher and a mother.
Being a teacher can sometimes feel like I have more than 20 kids, and that responsibility can be exhausting.
Even though my school starts later than his, my 40-minute commute is just one of the reasons I leave so early. Teaching is a performative profession, one where my ability to help kids process and learn the material requires me to be on my best game. That can't happen if I'm strolling in as the school bell rings, a third cup of coffee in one hand and lesson plans in the other. Most teachers need time to prepare, get papers in order, and meet with students before the day even officially starts. As a teacher, this is best practice, but as a mom, it means there are days where I only get a handful of hugs in with my child before it's time for bed.
Being a teacher and having a child in school gives me a different perspective. I know how hard teaching can be, so my admiration for his teachers is more extensive than I could ever express. And I try to be the type of parent that I sometimes wish my students had. I'll attend every curriculum night, volunteer when needed, and respond quickly to emails. I have to trust that my son's teacher wants the best for him, and part of that responsibility is doing my job as a parent. That doesn't mean that I'm not overly critical, even if I sometimes wish I wasn't. Knowing the teacher vernacular and how a classroom should operate helps me know what to expect from his school, and I will ask questions if something seems amiss.
But I also have to walk the fine line of trying to put both my son and my students first. If something is going on at school, my attention might be taken away from my son, and vice versa. I have a classroom of little kids looking to me all day to teach them things, look after them, and protect them, and then I go home at night and try to do the same for my son. Being a teacher can sometimes feel like I have more than 20 kids, and that responsibility can be exhausting.
But I'd also be lying if I said there weren't some beneficial aspects of teaching as a mom. Most of the time, our schedules overlap, so my son and I have the same days off. And I'm usually always home by 5 p.m., which is just enough time to rustle up some dinner, cuddle with him on the couch, and put him to bed. I try not to bring work home with me, but when I have to, we make his homework time family homework time, so I can tackle the mountain of papers I have to grade while he gets his work done.
In truth, being a teacher is not that different than a lot of other demanding jobs out there. The long hours are rough, but I know I'm not alone. If there's anything I've learned as a teacher, it's that most parents want what's best for their kid. So while it can sometimes feel like 20 times the parental responsibility, I know it's all worth it.