I was a teacher for 13 years before becoming a parent and have to admit I was pretty judgmental about moms and parenting before I actually had a child of my own. It seems that, now, the cosmic tipping scale that is Karma has returned to bite me in the you-know-what, because there are struggles only parents who are teachers understand that I've become nothing short of familiar with. What goes around comes back around, right?
Before I was a parent, I lacked the ability to truly understand what the parents of my students were (probably) going through. For example, when a student told me they didn't like their lunch and sadly pushed it away, I would mutter, "Why would your mother pack a lunch she knows you don't like?" not realizing that said child probably loved that lunch a hot second ago and the poor mom had 75,000 other things to worry about that day.
I would pity the mom crying at the door on the first day of drop-off thinking how she had nothing else in her life to focus on, going so far as to assume she was "pathetic." Then, of course, on my son's first morning of preschool, I was nothing short of a hot mess; practically rocking back and forth in some corner of my home with my own mom on speed dial. I am ashamed to admit just how judgmental I was but, as much of a cliché as it might be, you really don't know squat until you actually become a a parent yourself. Thankfully, when you know better, you do better.
When you are both a parent and an educator there's a whole host of problems to battle that are the result of "knowing better." With great power comes great responsibility, right? (Or something like that.) So, with that in mind and because sometimes the struggles are more than worth it, here are a few difficulties only parents who are teachers can truly understand.
You'll See Everything In A New Light
All the oh-so "helpful" tidbits of advice you dished out to parents as a childless teacher will come back to haunt you. You'll sit on the other side of the desk and have to listen to completely unworkable suggestions from someone who gets a full nights sleep, can complete a sentence without interruption and doesn't live with a mini tyrant.
Just smile sweetly as you think, "Yeah, lady. Sure. That'll totally work."
You Have To Look After Other People's Kids To Afford To Pay For Someone To Look After Yours
There's some sort of cosmic imbalance at play when you have to work all day looking after and essentially teaching other people's kids, just so you have the ability to be able to afford to send your child to another childcare worker.
Daycare costs are so expensive that it can make you wonder if it's worth being a working mother at all, yet your job gives you such purpose and fulfillment and of course cold hard cash. Sigh. Why is this so difficult, again?
You'll Be That Parent
You know that parent who drives teachers crazy with constant demands, emails and requests for more information about test scores and assessments? The one who asks for extra homework over the holidays and shares the latest research findings to back up all her statements? Yeah, that'll be you.
You'll be the one committing the terrible sin of asking the teacher to rank and compare your child to the rest of the class, even though you know you shouldn't. You'll tell yourself that, as a fellow educator, your child's teacher is a comrade and you're on the same team. (Pro Tip: she probably dislikes you with the fury of a thousand suns, but that's neither here nor there.)
Of course, you also know how important it is to build a good relationship with your kid's teacher, so try to rein in the crazy and work together.
You'll Feel Bad About Stealing Lesson Ideas
Every time you go in your child's classroom or see some homework assignments sent home, you'll immediately think how the activity or plan could work in your own class.
From display boards to book choices, activity centers to group names, you might think you would never, ever steal someone else's ideas. Ha. Be prepared, my friend. You're going to become a dirty rotten thief in no time at all.
Your Kid's Homework Will Be Perfect
You'll view each homework assignment as an opportunity to prove to the teacher not just that your child is the "perfect student," but that you're a "perfect parent." Your kid will quickly realize that other parents are not putting in quite as much effort and will start to resent the additional pressure.
Plus you're not fooling anyone; you know you can tell straight away when a student didn't independently complete their own homework.
You'll Miss School Concerts and Field Trips Because You Are Going On Them With Your Class
Sometimes you'll have to miss a trip to the farm with your child because you are leading a trip to the museum with your own class and that, you know, kinda sucks.
As your child gets older and notices you're not capable of attending every single field trip sponsored by the school, they may start to feel that you are choosing your students over them and jealously can creep in. It's a good idea, if at all possible, to book at least one day a year when you can volunteer with your own child's class and just be a parent for the day.
Your Partner Won't Get A Word In During Parent-Teacher Conferences
Once parent-teacher conferences come around, you'll have your chance to connect with another educator to talk about your favorite student.
You'll pepper the poor teacher with questions using educational lingo and jargon that your partner won't understand. Your partner will, probably, dismiss any of the non-educator concerns as frivolous and not worth the teacher's attention. You'll also mention your own credentials over and over again, just in case your kid's teacher missed the fact that you're a teacher, too.
Try not to forget how important it is that your partner and your child's teacher connect. Reminds yourself that your other half should have the chance to get involved at their kid's school just as much as you.
You're Expected To Be A Role Model 24/7
As soon as people hear that you're a teacher, they see you with a different lens. Suddenly every comment you make, extra curricular activity you partake in and certainly every "F bomb" you drop becomes a punishable offense to be judged and scrutinized. Sure, every mother is judged and shamed to a certain extend, but teachers who become moms get doubly judged and shamed.
Some teaching unions come right out and tell their members not to have social media accounts. While I, personally, would never connect with a student online, I really bristle at the idea that your choice of profession should dictate all your personal activities. As long as what you're doing is legal and appropriate, I think you should be allowed to be a teacher and a normal human at the same damn time. (I even danced burlesque with an amateur troupe whilst teaching but, hey, that's just me.)
Everyone Expects Your Kid To Be Perfect
The trouble with being the child of a teacher is that you can never be invisible. For the most part, everyone expects you to be "perfect" and never make any mistakes and pass all of your classes with flying, impressive colors. As the child of a teacher you have to be both smart and well-behaved and, well, that kind of pressure can wear on any young person.
I've certainly felt the pressure, as an ex-Kindergarten expert, to make sure my son can hold a pencil properly and has a love of reading.
Only kids whose parents are teachers understand just how hard it is to have to live up to a reputation before you even have time to develop a personality of your own.
Sooner Or Later, Your Kid Won't Think Your Job Is Cool Anymore
When your child first starts to go to school, they'll proudly tell all their friends that their mommy is a teacher. However, as they get older your chosen profession will become more and more embarrassing (until its practically a state secret).
Prepare yourself, because sometime during a tween tantrum your kid will definitely shout something like, "I am not in your class you know!" in your general direction.
As a teacher you already have the background theoretical knowledge on all aspects of child development, and that knowledge will get plenty of practical application as you traverse the stormy waters of parenthood. However, it's not always easy being both a teacher and a parent. Like, at all. Hopefully, as both roles support and inform one another, being a good teacher will assist you in begin a good mom, and visa versa.