slow down, you move too fast.

empty shoes.  It’s Monday.  A pair of little shoes sits empty at the front door.  I think of the feet that fit inside, and I miss my children.  They are asleep in their beds and I miss them.  Because on Saturday I had to attend a class for work.  All day.  And on Sunday, I graded papers. All day.  It’s 6:45 am and I’m leaving again.  The weekend went by, as all weekends do, and I can’t be sure if I saw them.

When my oldest child was still an infant, I determined something about myself:  I would never be a stay-at-home-mom.  Not only were we unable to swing it financially, but I found I just wasn’t made for it.  I wasn’t good at it.

baby boy.  But things are different now.  I’m different now.  It’s been almost seven years, and we’ve had two more kids since then.  I’m patient now.  More understanding.  And I almost feel like I know what I’m doing.

Lately, I look out into the rows and rows of faces in my classroom, and I remember something a teacher friend said to me the first time she met Georgia:  “I took ten years off when my kids were born because I thought, ‘Why am I spending all of my time with someone else’s children when I could be spending it with my own?'”

the middle one.

It’s true; for eight waking hours each day, I am with another mother’s children.  And my own children have me for less than four.  Sometimes, my middle one mistakenly calls me “Miss Kerrie” or “Grandma” the way my teenage students call me “Mom,” and I think that everything is confused.  I watch as my girls, tucked inside their beds, struggle against sleep to hear another chapter of The Phantom Tollbooth because they just can’t stand to miss anything.  I look forward to breaks and summer, and panic that they’ll be over before they’ve even begun.

Maybe it’s the way we started 2013:  three cases of strep and a ruptured eardrum.  PANDAS (and its residual effects).  A stomach virus.  Broken cars and air conditioners and refrigerators.  Jane’s anemia.  All before the first week of March was over.  And it makes me think that if I was just around more, if I just took better care of them, of everything . . .

We work too much.  This world moves too fast.

I find myself wanting not to stay home, but to be home. Not because I think it would this is the way i want to remember easier (it wouldn’t), but because I want to see my kids. I don’t want to miss watching them grow up. I want to brush my daughter’s hair in the morning before she goes to school.  I want to talk with her over breakfast. I want to go to her birthday lunch bunch on a Wednesday afternoon.

Because the truth is, there will always be other teenage students.  But my kids aren’t coming around again.

My husband jokes that we could sell the house and a car and live out of the pop-up camper somewhere in the country.  And there’s a part of me that thinks that idea isn’t half-bad.


8 thoughts on “slow down, you move too fast.

  1. I follow your blog after seeing it on your sister’s FB page (we went to Elmira together). And after reading the first entry, I realized how similar and parallel our lives are…we both are from families with sisters, have teaching backgrounds, and three, similarly-aged and gendered kids (my girls are 5.5 & 3.5, my boy is 19 months). And, in some ways, your life looks like how I imagine my life would look if I had decided to keep working. But I didn’t. I “retired” from teaching, and I stayed home. It’s not easy financially, but we’ve made certain choices that make it easier. And some days it’s a little slow…I always was the 6:30 am- 5:30 pm ,teacher, filling my days with extra committees, commitments and newer, better lesson plans. And, quite frankly, the hardest part has been not using my “talents”…I was a pretty good teacher, I think. But, I’m a better mom. And my kids, so far, are the kids that I would have wanted when I was a teacher. I feel like sometimes I get off easy. I look at working moms and have no idea how I would get that done! And I probably don’t appreciate it as much as I should. But I’m glad I stay home. Even as I take classes to stay certified to teach, I don’t ever plan on using them this side of 10 years. And from this side of the workplace, if you can do it, I highly recommend it. I still say it was the best choice I’ve ever made.

    • Thank you so much for your perspective! (And I love that our families are mirrors of each other.) It seems that so many people have struggled with similar choices, and, from what I’ve gathered over this past week or so, none has regretted the decision. I think that one of the difficulties of being a good teacher is exactly what you pointed out — we become too involved, we do too much, because we wouldn’t be doing a “good” job if we didn’t. I don’t think others understand how much teachers work when they are trying to be “effective.” And I think there are times in our lives when we have to take a step back and say, “What’s really important here?” I’m not sure what will come of it, but that’s where I am right now: trying to figure it all out.

  2. So let’s formulate a plan… I feel the same way… Aren’t there places where teachers trade out times? Say I work 3 days and you work 2 and we alternate from week to week and I watch your kids while you’re at work and you watch my kids while I’m at work… I know it is in other states. (we would at least make health benefits for our kids which is all Im making right now after I pay for childcare)… I’m researching… Also you could quit. I could quit..and you just come move with me to the middle of nowhere where at least we could be neighbors and trade off on the “crazies” part of being SAHM’s…(cost of living a lot less than Lakeland anyway)… 🙂 Hey! I’m serious…. 🙂 Feel you. LOVE you…xoxoooo

    • I really do feel like there should be a better system. Why is it this all-or-nothing thing? I don’t like that. At all. Why do I have to give more of myself to my work than to my kids? I plain don’t get it.

      And, spending time with you sounds like a dream come true, by the way . . . I love YOU! 🙂

  3. You write absolutely beautifully, and I find myself moved by your words (as ever).

    In my never-ending quest for balance, my time always feels gluttonous. Either it is excessively full of professional obligations (as your weekend was) or it is excessively full of family obligations (and I’m reminded of why I too am better suited for roles other than stay-at-home mom). I suppose we can only hope that in the long run the gluttony balances out and our kids remember the best of times when we were around and the best of times when we weren’t!

    Thanks for your words. I do love reading them!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so glad you enjoy my . . . stuff. And I think you’re right — for them, this is just life. There’s not much for them to compare it to (yet). I like that perspective (though I do still wish I could strike some kind of balance). I’ve talked to so many moms about this and I can quite for a consensus. Some say, “They’ll need you more later.” Some say, “But teachers have it better.” Who knows? I’m always figuring it out along the way (I hope).

      Thank you!

  4. My daughter is one of your students and I just read ‘this word is not okay’ and then read ‘slow down you move too fast’. My children are older now and for years I worked two jobs and my husband worked shift work to make things work financially but felt everyone else was raising the children we wanted to have. When my son- who is now 21 graduated high school I stopped it all Life moves too fast and I felt my kids needed more of me when they were older and I needed to know that I had been there for them to the best of my ability –It has not been easy, but God is a great provider (and so is my husband ) and I do not regret the sacrifices and many blessings that have come with “being home”.

    • Thank you SO much for your comment and your perspective. And I completely understand when you say “everyone else was raising the children . . . ” That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. I miss them EVERY Monday. I’m trying hard to figure out the balance, and I’m always second-guessing my choices. Thank you for giving me some hope that I will, at some point, make sense of all of this. I can say with great confidence that you have done an incredible job as a mother — I get to see the evidence every day. What a wonderful young lady you have. 🙂

      P.S. You’re the second mom from that class who has told me that their kids needed them more when they were older. And I’m so grateful to have that input — I hadn’t even considered it before, mostly because everyone focuses on the importance of being around when the kids are little. I think there’s real value in being around during those teenage years.

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