It's getting difficult to be a working mom. Of course, I'm not just realizing that two and a half months after returning from my second maternity leave. It was hard from day one. But the now my job is getting unpleasant. Those hours I spend away from my family are not very enjoyable. This is new.
I have always enjoyed my work in special education, especially the seven years I have spent as a middle school teacher. Certainly I've enjoyed some days more than others, some classes more than the rest and some supervisory duties more than the lunchroom. But for the most part, work has not felt like a chore. If I had to leave my children for the day, at least I looked forward to spending that time in the classroom with students. I remember walking to work one day and realizing how fortunate I was to have a fulfilling job outside the home. It made separating from Henry a bit easier.
That was two years ago. Something has changed. I can't quite get my edge back. The individual needs of the middle schoolers are overwhelming me. I can't seem to capture the students' interest, garner their respect or even keep their attention longer than three minutes. My lessons aren't exciting or thought-provoking and my instruction isn't helping anyone. We are all frustrated in room 211.
On my desk, amidst the strewn papers, blank lesson plan pages, errant sticky notes and lists of unwritten IEPs, I have this quote from one of Alexander McCall Smith's novels.
You simpy could not help everybody; but you could at least help those who came into your life. That principle allowed you to deal with the suffering you saw. That was your suffering. Other people would have to deal with the suffering that they, in their turn, came across.
Each day I return to the classroom and try to fix what's broken. That must be a sign I haven't quite given up. I can't--there are children depending on me.