The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Dual Mom Life

Sometimes I feel like I live a double life. There is the life I live when I am home with the kids, and then there is the life that I live during the school year. During the school year, the vast majority of my energy is focused on my students. During the breaks, I get to be just "mom." Of course I am still a mom when I am teaching, but the "mom" that I get to be on break is a different mom. When I am on break, I am rather domestic. I like to bake cookies and cupcakes from scratch. I make fresh squeezed lemonade. I cook dinner every night. I organize the kid's clothes. I schedule playdates for my kid (and sometimes, I even get brave and have them at my own house!). This week, I conquered the mountain of junk towering precariously high over the microwave.Tonight after dinner, we took a family walk with the dog. I like the me that is "mom."

You'd think this would make me want to be a stay at home mom... but it doesn't. I think I like home mom better because working mom exists. Because there are also parts of being "mom," the primary one responsible for keeping up my house and caring for my children, that kind of suck. Yesterday, we slept in a little (til around 8:30), which was nice, and then I set out to accomplish my goals for the day: tidy the house (without shoving things in places where they don't belong), cook dinner, and bake cupcakes for Bible study. That's it. That's all I wanted to get done. Tiana had other ideas.

Some days, she wants to be held non-stop. Yesterday was one of those days. She kept falling asleep while nursing, but then I'd put her down and she'd wake up right away. By 4:00, I had only straightened up one room of the house (the kitchen), which I had done through a method of throwing everything that didn't belong in there into the living room (I intended to tidy it up next) and then cleaning and organizing what did actually belong in the kitchen, and Tiana still hadn't taken a real nap. I set about trying to get her to nap. At 4:50, I really truly thought I had succeeded, and I walked out of her room, leaving her asleep in there alone. I felt so proud of my sweet success and so ready to complete my tasks. 10 minutes later, a whimper from the bedroom told me it was not to be. I took a deep breath and strapped an overtired baby into the swing, and I let her cry while I finished everything up. I took a couple of brief breaks to calm her, feed her, hold her, and then it was back to "self-soothing," which never really happened. At least by the time Daddy came home for dinner at 6, the house was clean and the cupcakes were baked. I couldn't take the crying any more, so I decorated cupcakes with a baby wrapped to my chest (fyi... not an easy task). I love my children... and I love my house, but days like this are only tolerable because I know I only get a few of them a year.

I sometimes feel bad about the fact that, during the school year, my students often receive more of my energy than my own children, but I do my best to make sure that Vinny and Tiana aren't missing out on anything significant and not to compromise on anything I feel is really important. Like the week that I had rehearsals and performances for the play until late at night, I worked like 15 hour days. I didn't have enough milk stored up for that, and I could have easily just had my family supplement with formula, but instead I had them bring Tiana to me so I could feed her. More than it even being about the milk, I just didn't want her to feel completely abandoned by me. It was hard to feed her in between solving every little drama crisis, but I made it work. The students learned that they could solve their own problems most of the time, and my daughter knew, in her own baby way, that she will always be my #1.

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