A few years ago I was student teaching, and I began to realize just how emotionally exhausting it is to teach. "I KNOW I won't be able to teach full time and be a mom... I'm so worn out by the end of the day I just want everyone to leave me alone! I wouldn't have anything left for my own kids." I remember declaring with great finality.
I wasn't entirely wrong. Actually, I was pretty right. Teaching (when done properly) is a very draining job. All day long you nurture and scold and tend and impart and chip away and explain and reason and SCOLD and EXPLAIN. And you have to be ready at all times to correctly spell tricky things like 'recommend' aloud while simultaneously spelling 'eventually' aloud to someone else AND check the spelling of an entirely different paper.
(a side note: I HATE spelling things aloud)
Sometimes you have to spend five full minutes explaining WITH PICTURES EVEN how valleys are not mountains or verbs are not nouns (are not adjectives or adverbs or prepositions...) or May is not graduation unless you turn in that paper, mister. Sometimes it seems like every student ALL DAY LONG needs either a come-to-Jesus talk or a hug. Or both. Sometimes you have to linger longer than you want to after school, waiting for some work to sloooooowly be completed, and your last student-teacher interaction of the day sees you saying, "Thank you for finishing this paper! Next time please don't make me beat it out of you!"
On days like this? I was right. I am emotionally exhausted by four thirty, yet I still have sweet babies at home who haven't seen their mama since breakfast.
All afternoon and evening I persevere. I melt out of teacher mode and into mama mode. I remember to smile and snuggle and play. We go for a walk and play outside and make dinner together.
But then... when Joey is at his evening class (American literature, and oh, how he hates it!) and Nessie is already tucked in for the night and the dishes are done...
Then it is unspeakably tempting to hustle Ariel up to bed with a half-hearted good-night song and skip the story and oh my sweet lord a hot, hot bubble bath and a book I don't have to read aloud or explain or THINK about. HEAVEN.
I can't even say how tempting that is. But what's better?
To turn up some Yael Naim and Michael Franti and anything else that makes us smile and shake our booties, put on an apron...
And bake some cookies together.
We laugh and stir and squish the dough and talk about each ingredient and dance around the kitchen like crazy girls. Tomorrow the "big kids at mama's school" will have cookies to sweeten their daily dose of Mrs. V and her infamous scoldings (no really, I get AUDIENCES sometimes. It's all good fun until I start fussing at YOU!)and tonight? Tonight I was present and involved, tonight she was important and delighted in.
Later I have given her a bath and washed the cookie dough out of her hair. We snuggled up and read our bedtime book and sang our song, and she is sleeping and I am luxuriating in that hot bath. Joey comes home from class and surprises me with flowers, for no reason but he loves me and I love flowers for no reason.
And I realize, I WAS right about teaching being too emotionally exhausting...then. In college, teaching took up every drop of emotional energy I had. But this family of mine has filled my heart to bursting, so now I find I have more than enough to go around. I hadn't taken into account the fact that my husband and my babies would fill me up with more love than I thought possible, so that I could face a new day of teaching refreshed, happy, and armed with cookies.
Which, let me tell you, is a good way to be armed when facing a horde of teenagers.