One of the benefits** of being a teacher is the ability to stand on both sides of the Mommy Wars* phenomena- most of the year I am frantically trying to survive in the working-mom camp, but in the summer I get to test out what it is like to be a stay at home mommy.
And um, they are both really, really hard.
Of course, as the spring months edged closer and closer to summer break I was counting down the days until I had Little Lipstick all to myself. Oh, the fun we would have, the relaxed life we would lead. The pool, the playground, the art projects, the books. Sure, standing there in the beginning of June, trying to survive two long last weeks of school, nothing sounded better than summer break. From that perspective being a stay at home mommy seemed like heaven.
And then, reality hit. There are tantrums and tears, half read books, hot days on the playground with "just one more slide", and the public tantrum when it's time to go. It's not the beautiful Norman Rockwell painting I'd mentally prepared myself for.
I love my daughter, and I'm cherishing everyone of these days. It is awesome to get to spend so much time with her day in and day out. I love being there when she wakes up from her nap, and I love being the one to feed her lunch, take her to the park, and giggle with her over silly books. We're building train tunnels, baking cookies, painting, and having intense water play on the back porch.
There may be some things that are actually easier about being a working mom.
Take for instance, the house rules. When you are a working mom enforcing house rules is no big thing. You are home for an hour in the morning, maybe two hours in the afternoon, and weekends. That's plenty of time to lay out clear ground rules, but not much time for the kids to break these rules. Rules like "We only eat at the table", "We clean up our toys before we go upstairs", and what had, until this summer been our number 1 rule, "We can't go downstairs unless we have a clothes on".
For the first few weeks that turned into "We can't go outside unless we have clothes on." That's now rubbish. We now go outside to play in diaper only. Lord help us in September when we have to get her to leave the house with clothes on.
The house stays a lot cleaner when you are a working mom. Having only an hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon to mess up the house really prevents a lot of the chaos that occurs when you stay home. The look on my husband's face in the afternoon is one of pure shock when he walks in. I can't invite people over. It's too scary in here. And none of the baby dolls strewn around the living room have clothes on.
And the food. I'm 100% confident in my daughter's daycare that she gets a well balanced breakfast, lunch, and snacks. During the year I provide a healthy dinner and she goes to bed full of healthy goodness. This summer? We're eating a lot of Mac and Cheese (sometimes Annie's if she's lucky), and applesauce. Occasional PB&J thrown in there for kicks. Well balanced? At least she'll be going back to daycare mid-August. I'm sure that will make up for our horrible eating habits.
Come November I will be looking back at these summer weeks and missing them terribly. I'll shake my head at my lazy enforcement of rules, and how I found the "we have to put shoes on" fight ridiculously stressful. But it is.
Being a parent is hard. Fun. Rewarding. And hard. No matter how you do it.
As a teacher it's nice to get the view from both sides to appreciate that grass isn't greener, it's just different.
*I'm trying hard not to turn this into a mommy blog. But I'm home during the summer and instead of my usual summer reading of professional books and blogs I'm finding myself reading From Head to Toe by Eric Carle on repeat. My inspiration is a bit different these days. My apologizes.
**I'm not one that usually considers summer break a job benefit. Don't get me wrong, I love summer break, but it's not a job benefit. It's a forced vacation, as one of my friends calls it, or a forced furlough. I don't understand people who go into teaching for the summer vacation.