Tomorrow, I return to work after being home with my boys since the end of May, causing me to face a double hurdle: the end of summer and the end of my maternity leave.
Though it may come as a surprise, many teachers share the same apprehensions about returning to school that many of their students have. We don’t want to give up our free time (though many of us also do have summer jobs). We don’t want to bring work home. We want to hang out with our friends during the week. We don’t want to be trapped in a classroom all day when we could be outside. But, seasons change, and so do our obligations.
Before I had children, summer wasn’t as much fun as it is now. Spending the day at the pool, visiting museums, and having friends over for play dates make the weekdays every bit as fun as the weekends. I prefer the quiet moments I shared alone with my boys – eating lunch together and watching a movie or reading stories after wards. Going back to work means giving up those special parts of my day.
The most difficult part is that my return to work means that my maternity leave – time set aside specifically for me to care for and bond with Baby Frank – is over. I won’t be able to pick him up whenever I want to hold him. I won’t be able to hear him cry, or giggle, or coo from my classroom. I won’t be the recipient of his every smile or the extinguisher of his every tear.
Having been through this experience before, I know it gets easier. Collin was almost six months old when I returned to work in a place where I was very much established. There, I was surrounded by people who knew what I was feeling before I could understand it, myself.
It’s harder this time around. Frank is only twelve weeks old. I now have two little ones to miss and worry about. I’m still new at the school where I now teach, so it’s not the same as returning to a place that felt like home. Being closer to my house and working with another teacher in a very similar situation to mine should make it easier. Plus, I have my friends, my family, and my faith.
My best friend from my old school reminded me that I may be teaching students who aren’t guaranteed the unconditional love and support my boys do.
She’s right. I was drawn to this line of work so that I can show compassion to those who need it most.
My husband reminded me that I still had mornings, nights, weekends and holidays with the boys.
He’s right. I’m not being shipped off to a New England boarding school to teach. We will just have to make what little time we have together worthwhile.
My faith ensures me that my boys are in God’s hands, even when I cannot hold them myself.
God is always right.
As I sit and write, Collin and Frank are both napping beside me, the harmonious sounds of their breathing a soothing reminder of their physical presence. When they wake up, we’re going to the farm to pick up some vegetables. We will cook our dinner on the grill. We will chase fireflies with flashlights until it’s time for bed. We get this one last summer day together and won’t let a moment go to waste.