Today is june 15, 2012 and i have had quite an epiphany on failure. Im choosing to publish this in a date that would have been very dear to me, the date that would have been the end of my third year of teaching, if i had continued on teaching full time. Why hide a post? I do it all the time, whenever there is something so heartfelt, maybe a little too much so, to put front and center on my blog. But I want to remember and keep it forever, so here it is, in all its glory (if you can even call it that if it was posted at almost 1am).
Just over a year ago I became a stay at home mom and I thought it was going to be the best thing in the world, having spent a full school year attempting the impossible task of being a full time working mother.
As a teacher, I have never felt like a failure. True story. Just like when I was going through high school or college, I felt like I could never truly fail at learning... you just don't do as well as you had hoped to do and resolve to do better the next time. So with being a first year and then a second year teacher, I would try new things, some would work and more often things wouldn't work out and I would not fret. I would make minor adjustments, tweak my lessons and try it again for the next go-around. If a class got really bad I only had 18 weeks with them anyway and then I would get a whole new batch of children who I could start over with a fresh clean slate. Even if I did have repeat students, they usually liked me enough not to make fun of me as I worked about awkwardly changing things around. Again, I never felt like a failure because there was always a sense of renewed hope every january or september that I could "fix" things and get a little bit better than I was last semester. The best teachers are not actually the best at anything, except at continuing to improve and better themselves and that's what I loved about teaching. If you were terrible that just means you have more room for improvement and can in theory only GET better, am I right?
And there there is being a mom. Where the pressure to be perfect is frighteningly high. Where you know you have that child for the next 18+ years and they remember stuff that you do (like let them pick out the super expensive raspberries from the organic section in the grocery store just ONCE) and boy do they NEVER forget it. I may only have an almost two year old but already I am wincing at things I have done and wishing I could get a do-over, a January or even better a September, completely fresh start. I wish I hadn't have said "stop that!" so many times during our utah trip to stop the whining because he says it now. I wish I wouldn't have used the phone as a default to placate whining when we are in public. He remembers. And it breaks my heart. I feel like a failure because I have to carry this around for the rest of my life, and not just for this child, but for each child to come it will multiply. How can I handle that? I wish I spent more time teaching him things and less time letting him watch Curious George while I snuggle next to him in bed. I wish I didn't spend 4 hours training to run a marathon and instead took him to the zoo. Nobody every warned me how much regret I would feel as a mother!! And especially not how terrible it would make me feel as a person, not just as a mother, although the older I get the more intertwined those terms seem to get. I feel like a failure ALL the TIME. It doesn't help that all around me are mothers doing joyschool, teaching their kids science projects, and otherwise upstaging me in the department I already feel pretty lousy in.
I'm not saying I am a lousy mom. I'm not. I think I am just like every other mom who feels overwhelmed with the sense of responsibility to care for a life and a child so perfect and precious, knowing that every THING you do can and may impact them for a very long time. Becoming a mother was hard. But parenting and discipline and being a mom is an even more daunting task than I ever realized. Which is not to say I am not up for the task because I am.
I love being a stay at home mom and I would not trade it for the world. But sometimes I do the thing I feared most while working full time, and that is that I take it for granted. I get lazy and nap and loaf around and eat and do nothing when I should be lighting up the life of my pride and joy. After 15 years of babysitting experience I really thought I had this raising a kid thing down pat. But it is so much more complex than I ever gave my parents, or any parents, credit for. My job has some good and some bad days, but it also has a boss who will never fire me and will constantly keep me accountable. And who loves me no matter how much of a failure I think I am. And That is enough to keep me trying. Continuing on my road to improvement. Because I thought I had a lot of room to improve as a teacher?! HA! I have MUCH more room to improve as a mother.