Yesterday and today I went into my former job for two days to do some transition work with my fantastic replacement, Jenna. My official last day was at the end of June, but Jenna hadn't been hired yet, so we were able to arrange two days to go over her caseload, etc. before the start of the school year this year. Jenna filled in for me when I was out on maternity leave, and I am thrilled that she has been hired to fill my position now that I have resigned. My in-laws were kind enough to come babysit McKenna for the past two days, and I went in to work.
Since its the beginning of a new school year, it felt quite odd. I felt like I was back to work, getting ready to start a new year. And I was actually pretty sad about the fact that it was just pretend... I am already missing it some, and I know I will miss it from time to time now that the school year is beginning again. I actually quite loved my job, despite complaining about it on a regular basis when I worked there. (Isn't that always the way?)
My choice to stay home instead of work has nothing to do with not wanting to work. I love my career and I love working with my students. I just felt strongly that my time right now would be best spent investing in McKenna. We didn't want her in daycare, especially with her medical issues, and paying a nanny would take most of my salary anyway (and as much as I love my job, I'm not really into doing it for free), so it just makes the most sense. Besides which, I want to be home with her during this exciting and amazing time in her life, as she learns to walk and talk and understand things and communicate and play... Its amazing, and I don't want to miss it all! It was a hard choice and I could never, ever judge anyone who has chosen differently, but we talked it through and prayed about it and its just what we feel God has called me to do at this point in our lives.
I am beyond thrilled to now be a stay-at-home mom. It is a blessing and privilege, and I am so very thankful for a husband who supports my desire to be home and that I have the opportunity to be home with McKenna while she is so young. At the same time, it is a very different life than I am used to living. Its exhausting, first of all, especially with our dear one, who craves interaction with others and intellectual stimulation on a constant basis and doesn't nap much. During the day, I am by her side pretty much every moment she is awake, and due to her limited napping, that equates to most moments of the day. There is virtually zero time to get anything done and I have very little time to myself. I am lucky to have my parents around most of the time, since we are currently staying with them while Brett finishes school, but they will agree with me when I tell you that McKenna is really a multiple-person job. So its just a very busy and tiring day!
Secondly, its not very intellectually stimulating. Its just not. Let's be honest, Baby Einstein and blocks and stacking rings and balls and The Hungry Caterpillar just aren't as fascinating to us as they are to our children. I adore watching McKenna play and smile and giggle and stare intensely at things as she tries to figure them out, but sometimes I miss using my brain.
Thirdly, my interactions with other adults are pretty much limited to my husband and my parents and a few wonderful friends who I text with during the day. I love my parents very much. I obviously adore my husband. My friends help keep me sane. But I used to spend most of my days with other adults, working together to help our students, and its just not the same. Its not bad. Its just different.
So for the last two days, if I'm being completely honest, I kind of felt like I was on vacation. I stopped at my favorite coffee shop on the way to work and finished my delicious Jamaican Blue coffee while it was still hot. No one screeched or cried or shouted at me. I ate my lunch at a leisurely pace. I could use the bathroom whenever I wanted to, without rushing. I used my brain. We talked about psychiatric diagnoses, complicated family dynamics, counseling strategies, logistics of time management and scheduling, the successes and failures of last year's efforts, the delicate nature of some staff interactions, the very recent death of one of our middle school students and its impact on our student body, and the general day-to-day challenges and benefits of working within our educational system. We laughed about some of the ridiculous situations that are encountered in this job. We teared up while talking about the amazing emotional progress made by some of our more challenging students. I felt intelligent. I felt interesting. I felt like an adult. I felt like my other self. I even felt kind of pretty. (Real clothes and makeup and jewelry can have that effect on you).
And then it was over. And I was kind of sad about it. And I came home, for the LAST last time from my job. And my sweet, adorable, beautiful, amazing daughter was waiting for me. And when I walked in, she grinned from ear to ear, and squealed with glee, and bounced up and down in her grandma's arms, kicking her little legs and waving her little arms with total abandon.
And I felt loved.