Thursday, September 12, 2013

Domestic Enemies of the Teacher Mom

I love, love, love teachers and all they do for my kids. So I was super excited when Annie sent me this post. What's it like to be a teacher *and* a mom? Let her tell you all about it:

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I think of myself as Annie, but only about six people in my life call me that.  The rest call me “Mrs. G” or “Mamamamamamamamamama!  Help!”  I spend my days raising one two-year-old and approximately 80 12-year-olds, and I spend my nights fighting crime grading papers drinking really crappy pink wine.  

Double the school germs, double the funk
It’s hard to find nannies (without criminal records) who are willing to work for $4 an hour and all the secondhand apple-themed kitsch they can carry, so most of us teachers put our kids in daycare.  And there’s always the crusty-nosed daycare kid who’s been “fever free for twenty four hours” thanks to hourly doses of Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and voodoo chicken bones/exorcism. And when your two-year-old is convinced that he’s a puppy and likes to explore interesting new colors, textures, and friends by licking them, you know that little plague monkey has just spread the love to your whole family.

Meanwhile, at “big school,” it is a mathematical fact (I teach English, btw) that at some point a kid will come up to you and say, “I don’t feel good.  I threw up in Social Studies.”  And it is a scientific surety that she will tell you this at the end of class.  After you high-fived her for her awesome test grade.  And made her spit her disease-laced Bubblicious into the palm of your hand.  Spoiler alert – she also has pinkeye.

Field Trips
I know.  Other people travel for work, too.  Like, real travel.  To hotels with bars, where you don’t have to share a roomful of bunk beds with fourteen seventh grade girls.  Believe me, Real Work Travelers, my heart bleeds for you.  But here’s the thing about field trips.  Say there’s an emergency at daycare and the thing-that-turned-out-not-to-be-a-raisin that your kid ate off the floor makes a sudden reappearance.  You can’t leave the Waste Processing Plant or whatever educational adventure because you’re on a flippin’ school bus!  Also, if other people leave a business trip early, chances are their colleagues/clients won’t take advantage of their absence by having unprotected sex and then setting things on fire.  That’s not the case here.  

Kids’ Names
In my lighter (drunker) moments, I like to think about having another kid someday, but I’m not sure that’s an option.  And not because somehow I make less money with every passing year (although that’s true, too.)  It’s because after eight years teaching, there are no good names left.  I always liked the name Katie.  Unfortunately, I can no longer think of that name without recalling the butt crack of the girl in the front row third period who insisted on wearing super low rise jeans.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I don’t want to look at my beautiful newborn baby and have to visualize Katie’s coin slot every time I lovingly whisper her name.

Parents who lack boundaries
Really, Mrs. Davis?  After I tell you I’m reading my sick two-year-old a bedtime story, you still want to discuss Kaylee’s essay grade?  Tell ya what; you look on Wikipedia, find the paper she printed out word for word (with the links still in blue) and read over it.  I’ll get back to Goodnight Moon, ‘kay?

Personal lack of boundaries
I know there are teachers who have never stayed up at night worrying about Karina’s body image or how to sensitively, caringly, suggest to Kyle that he might be at an age where deodorant is worth considering.  But I don’t think I work with any of those people.  It’s constant and it’s exhausting, and it makes you feel guilty as hell on one hand for neglecting your own kid, and on the other for being able to give him a life that some of your students can only dream of.  Wine helps.  But you have to drive across county lines to buy it so none of your students will see you strolling down the booze aisle.  (I once went to the store for beer and tampons and came home with Spanish rice and a personal-sized watermelon.  And don’t even think about looking for a bra at Target!)

The Fear
Shootings.  Tornadoes.  Schmidt happens.  And when it does, you are responsible for twenty children, and not a one of them shares your DNA.  Given the amount of work I need to get done every day, it’s truly impressive how much time I devote to planning what I’ll do if someone bombs the CDC while I’m at school.  At the end of the day, I’m responsible for the safety and well-being of other people’s children.  My own kid will have to fend for himself.  We spend our summers working on ninja skills, just in case.  And speaking of summers…

“At least you get the summer off!”
Well, yes.  Sort of.  When I’m not tutoring or nannying or teaching summer school.  And yes, all that time with my kid is awesome.  For, like, twenty minutes a day.  Then it’s got all the struggles of being a stay-at-home mom, plus constant reminders that you’re bad at it and you’re completely unfamiliar with your child’s schedule.  If you’re lucky enough to have a verbal child, he will also remind you that you suck by whining every morning that he wants to go to daycare.  Because DAYCARE is better than Mommy.

Political crossfire
Education’s kind of a charged topic, which sucks.  For the record, I don’t make six figures.  Unions aren’t recognized in my state, so I’m not in one.  I can totally be fired without cause (although, let’s face it, with cause is way more likely).  I’m not the demon teacher some people seem to think.
I’m not a saint, either.  I don’t just teach “because I care.”  I mean, yes, I care.  But I’ve also gotten attached to having nice things.  Like food.  And shoes for my kid.  And a base model Toyota Corolla.  Basically, I’ve never cheated on a standardized test or embezzled any taxpayer money.  But I’m pretty sure I said “bullshit” in front of a student last year, and a time or two I’ve pulled the, “Oh, no, Johan, I can’t find your paper!” when really I spilled wine on it.

Teaching and parenting are fun.  They’re exhausting, especially when attempted concurrently.  Some of us would say they’re holy work.  All I’m saying is, after you’ve given birth to a ten-pound baby, sometimes you dream about jobs where you don’t have to wait until 5th period planning to go pee.  That’s all.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013

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