I started back to work yesterday after spending 15 weeks off on maternity leave. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
I felt like a celebrity as students and staff called my name on sight and gave me long, rocking hugs. It was the first day of the ISAT (the Illinois standardized test), so I had very little instructional responsibilities and didn’t have to assign homework. I even shared my light teaching load with my substitute teacher, who is sticking around for the entire week to ensure a smooth transition for me and the students. And best of all, my husband is taking off the entire month of March to stay home with our son, so I didn’t have any separation anxiety in the morning or worries about my baby’s care during the day.
My first day back to work was great!
But I forget a lot of things about teaching in those three months off.
I forgot how early I needed to get up if I were to work out, get dressed, get my daughters out of bed and dressed, make breakfast, warm up the car, drive in the snow, and arrive at school at 8:15. So on my first day back, I was late.
I forgot that there would be a continental breakfast and coffee for the staff in the Teacher Resource Room on the first day of the test, so when I went down there on my prep there were only plates and empty trays left.
I forgot some of my students’ names.
I forgot that I’d have to tell one particular student at least 20 times to do his work and that each time he’d argue back why he shouldn’t have to do it.
I forgot how to console two crying seventh grade girls who had just been called “fat” and “sluts” by eight grade boys who were trying to get a laugh in the lunchroom.
I forgot who to call to find the boys and hold them accountable.
I forgot how physically demanding it was to go up and down three flights of stairs on and off all day, to monitor the hallways and bathrooms and to be constantly on my feet, circulating the classroom during an arts project.
I forgot not to wear high heels.
I forgot that I’d have to reserve a substantial amount of energy for that adorable little three-month old at home who hadn’t seen his mommy all day. And that I’d need to figure out how to play with him, make dinner, help my daughters with their homework, and stay faithful to my baby’s 8 p.m. bathtime-booktime-bedtime ritual.
I forgot that my husband might also want some mommy-daddy-love time around 10 p.m.
I simply forgot.
So I’ll spend the rest of the school year learning and re-learning to how to be a fabulous teacher. But the past three months of baby-induced amnesia was worth it!
The opinions expressed in Charting My Own Course are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.