Recently, I “went back to work” by substitute teaching for two days.
It was wonderful, for so many reasons.
I knew, with very strong intuition and conviction, that I needed to stop teaching full-time and stay home with my boys. It was such clear wisdom from God, honestly, that I didn’t waver about my decision.
I also LOVED teaching. Sure, my years of professional teaching were far from easy. There were many challenges in regards to time, patience, personal and professional drama… the list goes on. But the actual act of teaching – the helping, tutoring, guiding of young people, the crafting of lessons and experiences, the presenting of information – is part of me. Like a limb.
Going back to work for two days did not change these two truths, but it was so important to my mental health.
- It proved to me that I am not unhappy being a stay-at-home / professional parent. Not once during my hours working or my evenings at home did I think to myself: “Why did I leave teaching?!” “Ugh! I can’t believe I have to stay home again on Saturday.” “I wish I could do this every day.” “I made a horrible mistake.”
- It proved that I do want to go back to work when my children reach school age. I thoroughly enjoyed myself! The energy I got from being in a school, with a faculty, around children, running a classroom… it was like an I.V. Refreshing, stimulating, filled me up, in a way.
- It reassured me that I did not stop working out of a lack of skill, true burnout, or anything of that sort. Working felt like I’d never stopped. (I would say “like riding a bicycle,” but honestly I’m terrible at riding bicycles.) This mini work experience was substitute teaching, so I was working with someone else’s routines, content, and materials. I was also down with a virus (interrupted sleep, completely lost my voice between Day 1 and Day 2). But still, I didn’t find the teaching difficult. Teaching is tiring, significant mental work, and requires a lot of skill, but I wasn’t experiencing stress or struggle.
In short, I’m really glad I took this little assignment. Sometimes certain opportunities or experiences can reassure us by confirming that we’re on the right path. Sort of gives a renewed energy by sparing you from any lingering uncertainty.
Have you dabbled in working outside the home since becoming a full-time parent? Or had a different experience that has given you important feedback about your decision? Feel free to tell your story in the comments!