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A Working Mama

About two months ago, I made the decision to go back to work. Nannying for a year provided a wonderful way for me to spend every day with my son while still contributing financially for my family. Unfortunately, I’m almost positive that the majority of the money that I made was spent on cases of wine and visits with my therapist in order to regain my sanity after spending 12 straight hours wrangling babies every day.

I enrolled my son at day care in the beginning of September and decided to try my hand at substitute teaching. I’ve been certified to teach in the school districts for several years, but you have to have at least 400 years experience and be married to a principal in order to get considered for a full time teaching job in New York State. I figured that subbing three days a week would be a great way for me to get back into the business and gain some experience. Maybe in year or two, I’d be ready to shoot for something full time. In case you didn’t already know it, the cost of daycare per year is practically equivalent to a college education, so I decided to continue nannying two days a week in order to lessen the blow of the additional bills.

My son started daycare before I began working so that we’d both have a few weeks to adjust. As a former day care director, I have walked hundreds of parents through this process. I’ve showed them to their children’s classrooms on the first day and handed them tissues as they said goodbye to their kids for the first time. You’d think I’d be prepared.  Ironically, I was probably more high maintenance than any of the parents I complained about while working in my former position. We visited the classroom a handful of times for a few hours before Grey’s first day (and I know just how much teachers LOVE having parents hanging around all day). I made crazy requests about giving him two snacks a day at specific times and letting him have a bottle at nap time, even though the rest of the toddlers have been off bottles for months. I stopped in to make sure he was alright and I called the classroom to check on him. Yup, self-proclaimed helicopter mother. But I couldn’t help myself. Plus, I’m paying these people a pretty penny to put up with my shit (and my son’s, literally), so they can deal with my absurd requests for the time being.

During those first few weeks, I hadn’t started substitute teaching (since, ya know, it’d probably be frowned upon for teachers to call in during the first week of school after having two months off). I found myself in a really strange situation. I’d drop Grey off at daycare and come home and literally have nothing to do. I’d walk around the house aimlessly. It’s amazing actually that in such a short period of 19 months as a mother, I’d forgotten what the hell it was like to have free time. My house was really clean. I was working out every day. For a week or two, I was thinking I could REALLY get used to this. Then, a weird sense of guilt set in. I wasn’t getting called to sub. I felt bad that Grey was at daycare for no reason and that I wasn’t making any money. I started busying myself with random household projects that I had no business doing. I actually purchased and installed all new blinds in the downstairs of my house. Like, WTF?? Not only have I NEVER touched a drill in my life, I had spent a couple hundred dollars on the blinds. I needed to start working or I was going to do something crazy like attempt to sand and refinish my hardwood floors. And I’d probably really fuck it up.

Finally, I started getting some calls to sub. If you aren’t a teacher, subbing is something like this – You work in a different school, in a different building, in a different classroom every day. Imagine your first day of work. Now picture doing that every.single.day. I had no idea where to go, where to park, and I was super awkward at lunch because I had no one to sit with. It’s not for everyone. But luckily, subbing has some awesome advantages, too. I can make my own schedule. I can take days off whenever I want. I don’t have to write the lesson plans and I have no responsibility for making sure these kids don’t fail the state tests. My sole purpose as a sub is basically to make sure the kids don’t kill each other. Plus, if I don’t like the class, I can choose not to go back there. Not a bad deal, after all.

Actually going to work again was totally insane to me. I realized that I have to wait until the very last second before walking out the door to put on my work clothes to avoid my son wiping his hands on me after breakfast or getting covered in dog hair while sitting on the floor wrestling the kid into his coat. I’ve become one of those working moms that like, packs lunches and sets out everyone’s clothes the night before. I don’t mind that I have to sit in 45 minutes of traffic in the morning because I get to be in my car, by myself, and listen to a morning radio show while drinking coffee on the way to work. Not only that, I get to talk to adults. I even get to take bathroom breaks. Alone.

It’s glorious.

On the first day, I felt so good to be out of my yoga pants and bleached stained T-shirts that I even attempted wearing heels. After nursing some serious blisters from standing in front of a class all day in pumps, I realized that I needed to take it slow. I haven’t worn heels in two years. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

It took him about six weeks to adjust, but I am SO happy to say that my son is finally surviving his day at daycare without crying for hours on end. I’m sure his teachers are happy about that, too.

It was such a miracle that he stopped crying and was finally painting happily at day care that they had to e-mail me a picture of it.

It was such a miracle that he stopped crying and was finally painting happily at day care that they had to e-mail me a picture of it.

While it’s only the beginning and I know that there will be challenges, so far, going back to work part-time has been a really amazing experience for both me and Grey.  Who knows? By this time next year, maybe I’ll be ready to work full time. And maybe I’ll even be ready to do it in heels.