A little baby painting the floor with tempera paints
Photo courtesy of Christine Hernandez

When People Ask What I Do, I Still Say I'm A Pre-School Teacher, Even Though I'm A SAHM

Being a stay-at-home mom is weird. Maybe other people are better at it than me, but I have never really gotten used to being at the constant mercy of a tiny and often raging human. It can be isolating and lonely when you are the only mom at a toddler gymnastics class full of kids and their nannies. On the rare chance that I am in the presence of other adults, I often draw a blank when it comes to what to talk about because I've spent an entire day watching Moana and wiping away boogers with my shirt. When I get asked the question “what do you do…” I often don’t even know how to respond. Well, right now I “do” momming, but I don't "identify" as a stay-at-home mom so much. I still usually refer to myself as a pre-school teacher, even though I am not currently employed as one.

I did not aspire to be a stay-at-home mom. Up until I gave birth, I toyed with the idea of going back to work, but when it came time to return after my maternity leave I just couldn’t do it. I have since tried to return to work three separate times and each and every time I quit after an average of a week. It's not that I don’t want to work — I do. I love being a pre-school teacher. It's who I am. But teaching little people takes up so much space in my heart and in my mind that I just don’t have at this point. My son is not yet 2 and my heart is full. I don’t have the capacity to love up on 20 other children when I am paying someone else to look after my own.

It is not what I want the answer to the 'what do you do?' question to be.

Being a mother is a full-time job itself and I just don’t think I have the ability to do both jobs well. I have never been great at multi-tasking and “being” more than one thing at once is just more than my frazzled brain can handle at the moment. When my son was born, a different me was also born, and I am still trying to get to know this new me and figure it all out.

Photo courtesy of Christine Hernandez

In order to keep us from going bankrupt while I suss all this out, I work remotely, from home. The work I do is education related but is basically glorified data entry and hella boring and tedious. It is not what I want the answer to the “what do you do?” question to be. I teach yoga, I write, but none of these things do I identify with as strongly as I do with teaching.

Depending on who asks, I still refer to myself as a pre-school teacher even though I am home with my son.

I have the recipe for homemade play dough memorized and I can make basically anything out of a cardboard box — these are skills that I can’t really apply anywhere else in life other than in a classroom full of 4-year-olds. In the meantime, my background as pre-school teacher has made being a mom more fun — I have studied play for half of my life and now I get to watch my son develop the ability to play and imagine and grow.

So, depending on who asks, I still refer to myself as a pre-school teacher even though I am home with my son. I didn’t give up on that part of myself, I merely pressed “pause” to give myself time to raise my son and be with him these first few years of his little life.

Maybe part of it is to help remind myself that this season of my life isn’t forever and soon enough I will be doing more of the things that make me me again.

And as I sit at home letting my son splash dyed water all over my kitchen floor, I can't help wondering if maybe instead of asking people what they "do," we might do better to simply ask them what they love — that, I have two very good answers to.