For years, I was a stay-at-home mom to my two children, Emily (12) and Preston (8). Three years ago, when Preston started going to school full-time, I was offered a job as a teaching assistant in the kids’ school and it sounded like the perfect opportunity. Not only would I get to see them throughout the day, but I would also have the same days off, including summers. But the vacations were just a bonus. Having previously worked in human resources, I found that being around kids all day awoke a dream inside me that I didn’t even realize I had. I wanted to be a teacher.
Growing up, I loved to play school with my dolls, but I never thought I had the confidence to be a teacher. Back in college, my biggest concern was getting good grades and being good enough to get a job. I took what I thought was the easy way out and decided to work in an office where I didn’t have to worry if kids would listen to me. But motherhood changed me.
When I became a new mom, the worries that I had in college no longer seemed important. Emily suffered from colic, so she was constantly crying except when she was sleeping in half hour naps every two hours. She was also up several times a night and gave up naps when she was two. I didn’t think I could survive it, but I did.
As she got older, I had to learn to navigate playgroups with children who were less aggressive than mine and other moms who seemed to have it all together. This was hard for a shy mom who suffered from anxiety. I didn’t think I could survive it, but I did.
Then Preston was born with a heart condition, so my days were filled with worries about him breathing funny or Emily being too rough with him. Once again, I didn’t think I would survive it, but I did.
With each passing year, the kids became more independent and old worries were replaced with new ones. These days, I worry about my daughter making friends and my son paying attention in class. I’ve learned that there will always be something to worry about, but I’ve also learned that I am strong enough to make it through it.
So last year I decided that I wanted to have my own classroom. To be a teacher rather than a teaching assistant.
When it came time to decide if I should go back to school, my old fears crept up, but this time something was different. I now had a whole bunch of success stories to look back on. So I decided I could take the leap.
That is what motherhood does to you.
It puts you in situation after situation where you wonder if you are ever going to make it and you don’t know how, but you do. It’s not perfect. There are many sleepless nights, but there are also many new days where you wake up and realize that you can handle whatever life decides to throw at you that day.
These days, as I tuck my daughter into bed, I feel a little guilty that I don’t have as much time for her as I used to, but I also feel lucky to have been able to stay home with her for so many years. I feel thankful for the challenging situations that I have faced and overcome. I feel proud of the persistence I have shown to my daughter. Most importantly, I feel grateful for the confidence that she has helped me to grow. Someday soon, I will accomplish my dream of becoming a teacher and it will be all because first I was a Mom.
QUESTION: In what ways has motherhood changed you? Is there something that you might have been afraid to do before that you have the confidence to do now?
CHALLENGE: Make a list of things you are afraid to do. Choose one that you’d be willing to try now, however big or small, and make a plan to take that first step.
Edited by Sharon Brown and Nollie Haws
Image provided by the author.