Another school year is under way. And while only a few weeks ago I was resisting the idea of my low-key summer days coming to an end and ushering in the season of routine, there is comfort and stability in predictability. As much as I miss my guys when they are gone, I was looking forward to catching up on all those things that got neglected or put off during a summer of kids and camping trips.
Last year was the first year I was going to have no little people at home. Levi was heading to school full time and after 19 years of kids at home, I was going to have my days to focus on me. Well, in actuality, I know very few moms who spend much time ‘me’–focusing but it meant I could schedule the days to suit my schedule and not the needs of a little guy.
But the best laid plans…
As I sat basking in the peace and quiet of my morning, cup of tea in my hand, feet up after the chaos of getting the boys out the door, my phone rang with a proposal that made me laugh, sloshing tea down the front of my pjs which, naturally, I was still wearing. The middle school was looking for a grade 6 teacher to start as soon as possible and wondered if I would consider the position. Perhaps this doesn’t seem like such a ridiculous request since I did get my teaching degree and taught at ACS for three years, but that was way, waay, waaay back. And in all those 19 years, I hadn’t even filled in as a substitute. Not once. In fact, I’ve been out of the loop so long, that they don’t even call it subbing anymore. It’s Teacher-On-Call. Oh, I’m a very experienced volunteer in the classroom as a mom helper, but teaching?!
It was laughable. And so I did.
At first, I gave it very little thought. It was so far off my radar that I assumed the principal would forget and move on. But Tym Berger was tenacious and perhaps more than a little desperate at this point. Soon I found myself visiting the classroom and lying awake at night pondering this dramatic turn of events.
I’m a loyal supporter of our school and it bothered me to know these kids were without a teacher. The class had numerous kids I knew, including my nephew, and so my heart strings were pulled. Every self-doubt possible reared its ugly head during those weeks and I talked myself in and out of it multiple times a day.
After assurances that it could be half time, that I was not to decide out of guilt, and that I’d be well supported by fellow teachers, I was no closer to a decision. I simply couldn’t seem to commit one way or the other.
And so, on my birthday of all days, I stopped by Tym’s office one more time to talk it through. I remember him inviting me to sit down and as I kind of fumbled for how to begin, he stopped me and graciously said, “It’s okay, Krista. I think I know what your answer is, and I understand.”
I was so surprised. “You do?”
In that moment, I made my decision.
Not wanting to be predictable probably shouldn’t be an inducement for making a major life change, but sometimes I don’t know how to reign in that stubborn side of me and just like that, I was taking the job. I’m pretty sure God, knowing my hesitant nature, figured this was the only way to make me jump in with both feet.
Salty Pasta anyone?
It didn’t start out all roses. I won’t deny there was stress, fear, sleepless nights, short tempered answers to my children and more than one dinner where the pasta water was salted by my tears of exhaustion. But as our family adjusted and supported me and as I found my groove, I discovered I wasn’t just doing this out of loyalty, but I loved it.
After years of being home, having fellow staff members to connect, laugh, plan, and pray with was a blessing. And of course, my favourite: forming relationships with 21 kids who delighted and challenged me all at the same time. They made my year something to remember.
Calling on God’s gifts
It was a one-year gig. They need full time people and I recognise that with my family, we wouldn’t survive Steve’s multiple jobs and all the needs of the kids without me being home at least part time. My hat’s off to all moms who work outside of the home, whether it’s your only option or because you love to use your God given talents. As I discovered this year, you are pulled in so many directions that a career as a juggler is feasible and I respect you for it.
I have to say, I enjoyed telling people “I’m a mom and a teacher” when they asked what I do. Somehow it garnered a level of respect that at times I felt was missing when I answered the question with “I’m a stay at home mom.” When my kids were little, it was fine; people understood that I needed to be at home.
But last year, with all of them at school, it felt different. The question was always “Now what?” It was as if I needed to validate my existence and I found myself answering almost sheepishly, “I’m just going to stay home.”
When my temporary stint as teacher came to an end, I struggled with my own “Now what?” question. I was going to miss it. As I faced the start of the school year, watching everyone fall back into their respected roles, I floundered a little. Could I find value and worth again in my chosen profession of mom and homemaker? Because that’s just it, it is my chosen profession. I choose it because we can and because I love it. Not every day or every moment but it’s a job that requires much sacrifice and has immense worth and reward. I think I do a bang-up job of it and just because it doesn’t bring in a paycheck doesn’t make it any less valuable. My hat’s off to all those moms too. Those who can and do stay home and are no less likely to perform juggling magic daily.
So, I’m removing ‘just’ from my answer and proudly owning the job God has called me to, for now. I’m a stay at home mom. There is nothing ‘just’ about it.