Teacher Mom Guilt

Have you seen the “Bad Moms” movie?  I have to admit, it gave me a chuckle or two.  So has the series “Life in Pieces” on Netflix.  There are a few episodes involving parents of a newborn that have hit close to home and that have hit my funny bone for that matter.

This year while on maternity leave, I’ve been working on our TLLP project.  I’m not allowed to teach through it due to insurance reasons, but I can manage the project, be present for activities and help co-plan.  Once in a while, I have to make an appearance at the Board Office.  I get comments.

“You’re not doing this mat leave thing right.”

“You’re making the rest of us who don’t work on mat leave look bad.”

I’m pretty good about letting these comments roll off me.  What bugs me is that as a mom, I don’t tend to judge others.  I have bottle fed my three girls for personal reasons that I won’t go into.  My sister in laws and sister breast feed.  No judgement, the babies all turn out healthy and happy.  Different does not have to mean wrong.  You do you, I’ll do me, is kind of my attitude.

Don’t misinterpret my “working” for a lack of enjoying being on maternity leave.  I’m really enjoying it.  It’s 8:45 am and I’m still in my pajamas!  Bea will nap soon and I’ll get a shower in and do some cleaning up and puttering around the house (aka avoid housework while editing this blog).

And honestly, this TLLP project is like a passion project for me.  It does not feel like work.  It’s something I enjoy doing and thinking about and collaborating on with others.

My husband also has a lot of diverse interests and projects and we allow each other time for them.  He bee keeps, bagpipes and makes bread.  I do this, help moderate #fslchat and play tennis.  He may want a football weekend at some point and well, I’ll owe him one!

I’m also very fortunate to have so much family nearby.  My in-laws started taking my eldest every Wednesday when she was 6 months old.  They would show up at our house at 8am and I had strict orders not to feed her breakfast and not to come and get her before 4pm.  They have started this with my baby too.  As well, on Wednesdays, they pick up my girls at the bus stop and bring all three back for about 5:45 pm.  My mom is also nearby and minds baby once per week for a few hours if I need to get some things done.  I’m very lucky to have this support.  It truly does take a village!

Shifting gears…

A small sample of my mom guilt just today includes:

Worrying about my middle daughter who is having some teeth pulled today to make room for adult teeth.  She’s having some trouble in school in French, so I’m feeling guilty about what she will “miss”.  There’s a nagging worry that maybe being the second, that I didn’t read as much with her.  She also just had tubes put in her ears and I think she’s doing a little catching up now that her hearing is in a normal range.  But what if there is something more serious?

Winter boots and clothing – I’m just not on the ball.  My daughter left for school in an obviously very small filthy coat this am.  Her backpack is looking a bit “rugged” too.  We repaired her running shoes with super glue this morning.

I just took a clump of dog hair out of the baby’s mouth, so I should probably be paying attention to her and vaccuuming and cleaning floors instead of blogging.

And my biggie:

I’m leaving for Niagara Falls tomorrow morning for three days and two nights.  I’m going to “Bring It Together” a tech conference for three days with our TLLP team.

The whole family is pitching in to help with the kids.  My husband is an amazing man who is encouraging me to go for the full time even when I was doubting whether I should or not.  He’s a really involved dad and I know it will be fine.  And I’ll freely admit that I am going to enjoy a quiet hotel room all to myself for two nights and a few adult beverages and some adult social time.  I’m going to have the luxury of feeding my mind for three whole days.  Not to mention two full nights of uninterrupted sleep!  I’ve daydreamed of this for months.

But I will miss them and I do feel guilty for putting “me” first.

Shifting gear again, one final annecdote.  Pardon my lack of train of thought, I haven’t slept through the night in 8 months!

Last week at bedtime, my eldest burst into tears because in cross country practices she is always last.  She has to stop to walk and the full 2 km is hard for her.  Her meet was the next day, and being last in front of all the grade 4,5 and 6’s at her school (and two other schools) felt a bit much.  She was worried someone would make fun of her.  Being tired I started:  “Well, if they do, just give them….” AND stopped my train of thought before relaying the rest.  Both daughters looked at me giggling.  “Mommy, finish what you were going to say,” prompted my middle girl.  I chuckled and continued “I was going to say give them the finger… But you can’t.  So, just mentally give them the finger”.  Both girls laughed full belly laughs because they realized that I knew what “giving the finger” meant.  Not my best advice ever.  And then I realized that they knew what the term meant.  School buses continue to be a great source of knowledge for my girls.  I gave her a more appropriate pep talk afterwards with all the good growth mindset stuff I’m supposed to…

And because I’m off, I was able to go to the meet.  It meant the poor baby missed a morning nap and a feed because it went on longer than I expected (see there’s that mom guilt creeping up again).  She was a trooper.  But I stayed.  My daughter had a few worried tears before her race, but then she was off.  I had a brief moment where I worried my daughter would in fact come back in last place and flash a defiant finger to the crowd.  But as the first set of girls rounded the corner, I could see she was with a pack of 6 girls her age.  She looked at me, went into a higher gear and pushed past 2 girls and came in fourth.  I was able to walk with her as she cooled down.  She proudly told me that for the first time she ran the whole way without stopping to walk.

And I got to be there.

Because next year, I won’t.  I’ll be back in class next September somewhere and I won’t be there. And that’s when a whole other breed of mom guilt will kick in:  the teacher mom guilt.  It’s a whole set of its own.  You feel it while writing report cards and your family does their thing around you (a more grumpy you usually).  You miss concerts, meets, performances.  You miss field trips.

And these are the things that I’m enjoying this year.  I’m watching this beautiful baby thrive and learn new things and I am present for things that I normally would miss.

And I know I’ll get comments this week at the conference that will make me feel more guilty too.

And well, I’ll take some of my own advice. I will smile and make a certain mental picture in my head…

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