Saturday, June 11, 2011

mommy vs. teacher (an internal struggle)

On Wednesday, I took Gavin to the pediatricians for his 5-year check up.  I knew going into his appointment with all three kids would prove a challenge, as I tried to give my primary focus to Gavin and what the doctor had to say.  After finding out that he's 4 feet tall, (about 5 inches taller than the average 5 year old--not surprising), while we were waiting for the pediatrician, when it happened. 

I got teary-eyed.

I was watching my 'little' boy as the nurse checked his blood pressure and walked him down the hall for his vision and hearing tests, feeling like it was just the other day that he was the little one in the infant carrier, rather than Raegan.  How can it be that our little guy is going into kindergarten in just a few months?!  When we returned home that afternoon, I opened the mail to find a letter from Gavin's school informing us of his teacher along with a supply list for the upcoming school year.  A sense of panic came over me as I realized that while we had toured the school on his birthday and received information about what an incoming kindergartener *should* know, I had yet to really follow through to see that he actually does *know* it.  I had purchased a few workbooks that review letters, sight words, numbers, and beginning math skills, yet they were sandwiched between several of my cake decorating books on the shelf.

Crap!  I essentially 'became' the quote that I had highlighted just days earlier in Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood.  The quote said, "I most often fail by being too busy.  With work and three kids, I don't always manage to attain parenting 'best practices'."  I had purchased those books a while back--before having Raegan, even.  Why did I not start working with Gavin sooner?  I guess I figured that there'd be time to work over the summer, since I was busy with finishing up with work before maternity leave, making sure I was all set to have Raegan, working with my drama club on our production, making cakes...etc, etc...  The kindergarten prep was something we could put on the back burner until I had *more time* (ha!)  Where are my parenting 'best practices'?  Or, better yet, where are my teaching 'best practices'?!?!  I'm a teacher, yet I neglect to have my own son work on things that will help him once he enters school?  I really need to get with the program...


One of the benefits of Gavin attending a different school than where I teach is that I have a place where I can be 'Mrs. Teacher', and a place where I can be 'mommy'.  However, because 'Mrs. Teacher' is an ingrained characteristic of my persona, I am fearful that I'll have a challenge keeping that separate from the mommyhood side.  I don't want to be a 'helicopter mommy', a mommy who is afraid to loosen the apron strings a little more as the years pass by.  I know that Gavin will do well next year, that he's doing pretty well with all the things that are 'expected' by the beginning of kinder, and that I'm going to struggle to not push him too much with 'extra' work (especially this summer).  But I also know what I want him to be able to accomplish, and what he'll be expected to know and do as the school year goes along.

I don't want to push him, to come across as a 'teacher' in his eyes.  I am his mommy.  I'm responsible for making sure his character is well-rounded, his values etched into his brain and his heart, where they're second nature.  But, I'm also responsible for making sure he succeeds in school.  I'm responsible for making sure that I maintain a positive, working relationship with the school so that he'll be successful as he moves through his school years.  I know the 'teacher' role within that relationship.  I know how to share data with parents using terminology that makes the most sense. I know how to provide a list of strategies that will enhance the understanding of various skills and concepts.  I know how to present information to a classroom full of students who view me in the sole role of 'teacher', not the dual role of 'mommy/teacher'. 

But how do I peel away the 'teacher' layer to reveal my 'mommy core'?  I most definitely do not want to be one of 'those parents', but at the same time, I need to be the advocate for my child--especially since he isn't old enough to understand all that he needs to advocate for himself.  The balance will be delicate, and there's a definite learning curve involved.

Of course, for the time being, I'm enjoying the fact that he's viewing the work as 'big, important, I'm-almost-a-kindergarterner-so-no-you-can't-do-this-work-Brynn'.  He's enjoying doing a little bit daily, and in fact I had to tell him to stop because he would have finished half the book in one sitting. 

 We'll see how long this lasts...the school year doesn't begin for quite a while.

Don't worry...we're not 'all work and no play''s summer time!  We're enjoying the time we have together, even if we're not doing anything other than having an impromptu 'photo shoot'.

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