For as long as I can remember, I wanted to become an archaeologist. Learning about our shared human past was the most fulfilling subject I could imagine. So with my degree completed, I began spending half my time in the field and half my time in the laboratory, analyzing what I had found in the field.
When I was pregnant with my son, my work consisted of examining seeds that had been excreted through human intestines. I had specialized in Paleoethnobotany, the study of the use of plants by humans. So I was digging up the remains of privies and outhouses from a 19th century site. Thankfully, all that remained were seeds!
The mysteries of archaeology are everywhere and I enjoyed every minute of it. But once my son was born, the thrill of the lab or the discoveries I could make during extended periods in the field was nothing compared to the joy of seeing him grow and become who he is.
I began to consider an alternative career.
I knew how much I enjoyed teaching—every young professor teaches college students. And I knew I had always adored children. So, one year after having my son, I returned to school to get a Masters in Education.
As exciting as the excrement had been, (and I say that only half tongue-in-cheek) becoming a teacher was quite an adventure itself! I began my teaching career at the same school where he started pre-K, teaching fourth grade, and I have never looked back.
If you’re a working mother, it is almost impossible to balance a career and parenthood well, day in and day out. There are always compromises required. When it comes to teaching, you can have a successful and fulfilling career and be an excellent mom (or dad) without as many compromises.
So if you’re a young mother (or plan to become one), consider a career in teaching. Here are my reasons why:
- Working together. Being a teacher at the same school your child attends is almost as good as (and can be better than being) a stay-at-home mom. My son and I ride together to school, I’ve watched him as he’s working in his classroom, and we can have lunch together when we want. We’ve spent more time together building a solid relationship than many mothers and sons can.
- In the know. I am by no means a helicopter mom. I don’t know everything my son does. But I do know his teachers. They speak to me as a colleague so I know what’s going on in his classroom. I know what subject he’s studying and what’s due in the next week. I let him take care of his work but I have a grasp of his life at school, which only strengthens our relationship.
- Hand in education. A little known secret power of teachers is that administrators usually ask for our advice when placing our kids in a classroom. Having input for the best fit for my child has created an incredibly smart child with great work habits.
I teach in a school that’s a better fit for my son but one where he isn’t zoned. I was easily able transfer him to my school.
- Time off together. As a teacher you enjoy time off during the winter, spring, fall, and summer. Not only do we get to spend time off with our children, we also don’t have to worry about childcare during the summers! How great is that?
As my son moves in to middle school next year, I’m grateful I’ve had these years with him at school to establish a close relationship. Although he doesn’t want to eat lunch with me anymore (“Geez, Mom”), I get to hear about his day on the way home or as he comes into my classroom after school.
It’s bittersweet that I won’t be at the same school with him next year. I know it’s time though that he learns to branch out on his own more. However, because we’ve been school buddies so long, I don’t doubt our relationship is strong enough to withstand the trials and tribulations of his adolescence.
Being a teaching mom was the single best decision I’ve made as a parent. Like any career, you will face challenges and frustration. But believe me: you will never regret a moment. I know I don’t.