This past week I felt my first small twinges of sadness in not getting to set up a classroom this year. As my friends begin to talk about their plans for the year, arranging and decorating their rooms, and getting their new class lists, I can’t help but feel something I can best describe as a full body sigh. I’m a teacher…it’s in my blood, and always will be. I’ve always said that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life…until now.

Yes, I’m a teacher, but more importantly, I’m a mother. We’ve made the choice as a family for me to stay at home with our children until the last one (TBD) is in kindergarten. This gives me a 5-10 year hiatus from my own classroom, and yes, a part of me will be unfulfilled for those years, and a piece of my life will be missing. All that said, as I sit here with my son next to me, and my daughter playing happily a few feet away, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am making the right decision.

Does everyone agree with me? Nope. Its actually amazing how some people’s opinion of you changes almost instantaneously when they hear that you are a stay at home mom. You can see their eyes glaze over and the thought process of, “Oh Lord, please don’t start talking about your children,” going through their head. I could do without those people. Almost always, these people are women without children, or women who have chosen to work (which I’m not saying is wrong.) Recently, I had someone say to me (about another person) “She’s probably so crazy because she’s stuck at home with her kids all day.” I just kept my mouth shut, and wanted to say, “Um, did you forget who you were talking to?!” Not everyone will understand. Not everyone will give you the, “good for you,” or the “that’s really the best thing.” (Although those people are awesome!) The bottom line is…it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. You have to do what is right for YOU and YOUR KIDS.

Will I miss teaching? You bet. Do I love planning lesson, designing thematic units, and developing relationships with my students? Absolutely. But…do I love my time with my kids MORE? No doubt about it. Whenever I start to feel slightly jealous of my teacher friends, I look at my children. Hannah, now 28 months, has grown so fast…and has changed so much in just a matter of months. I can’t believe she was ever as little as my young son Henry (3 1/2 months). I can’t imagine missing their childhood, and wouldn’t want to. I need to be here. The classroom is a wonderful place to be. You make a difference. You teach children to read. You introduce children to literature. I yearn for the day I will yet again have my own classroom, and am compiling lesson plan ideas almost daily. However…today I chased butterflies. I made countless pots of imaginary coffee (and even fed it to a red penguin), made a baby laugh, read stories to a two year old, and you know what? I think I made a difference in the lives of my kids…and all in all, thats not a bad day.

I’m really starting to like my new “job.” (And yes, people who have never done it..It is most definitely a full-time job, and probably one of the hardest jobs imaginable.) I will ignore the nay-sayers, and embrace the choice that works for me…I will trade in my students for my children. And give up teaching? There are teachable moments every single day. I am still a teacher….maybe the most important kind.