I can’t pinpoint the time or place in which I decided I wanted to be a mom. In fact, I think it was so early on that I can’t imagine a time in my life where I didn’t know that being a mom was what I felt destined to be.
I guess you could say my “mom-training” started early. When I was around two years old, my mom gave birth to my little sister. My whole life was complete. My mom said I used to claim her as “my baby,” no matter how much she tried to convince me that the “baby is mommy’s.” I loved getting to feed her bottles and, when my mom wasn’t looking, I’d drag her by her neck (she was a chunky little thing, so I wasn’t strong enough to pick her up) and change her diapers in the nursery. I would get in so much trouble because I’d be unknowingly endangering her life (dragging her by her neck, hello). In fact, the first spanking I received was because I kept crawling into the crib with her and, quite literally, smothering her with love.
When I couldn’t use my sister as my real life baby doll and she had grown up, I continued loving on my baby dolls. It would be impossible to count the number of dolls I owned. Dolls that could move, babies that could talk, and don’t get me started on my Baby Alive. When I received a Baby Alive (I still remember the jingle from her commercial) one Christmas, I was speechless. You could mix up food and feed her and, y’all, she would go potty. And you could change her diapers and burp her and she would spit up. It was a game-changer baby doll. I would give my baby dolls baths and put lotion on them and swaddle them up for bed. Playing mommy was my favorite thing to do.
I loved my dolls so much that it’s what my mom used as a disciplinary tool. If I was ever naughty, my mom knew grounding me from my babies was the greatest form of punishment. She still tells this (embarrassing) story about one time in particular. I had been up to no good and was grounded from my dolls. My mom recalls peeking into my room where I was on the ground, singing and rocking one of my tennis shoes…desperate times call for desperate measures.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that on Career Day in kindergarten, instead of dressing up as a ballerina or doctor, I went as a mom. I brought a diaper bag, a baby doll, and a phone.
As I grew up, this love for baby dolls grew into a love of working with children. Almost every job I’ve ever had involved working with little ones. I was a babysitter, a day care worker and a teacher. I guess I felt these things worked as great fillers and great practice until I got to work my dream job: motherhood.
Now when I pictured myself in this dream job, I never saw myself simultaneously working a job in the teaching field. I always knew I wanted to stay at home with my children and be a mom full-time, and I know this had everything to do with being raised by a stay-at home-mom myself. My mom was there for everything. She made us her sole obligation. She never missed a party at my school, a dance recital or a cheer practice. My mom not only volunteered, but basically kept our schools running. She knew who my friends were, she knew their parents and my teachers had her number on speed dial. I never wondered if she’d be there for an event. I could confidently say she was not only there, but probably running the concession stand or ticket booth. My mom was, in a word, reliable. So, truthfully, I always wanted to be able to give my kids the same thing I had: reliability, assurance, and faith that mom will always be there.
Fast forward to dating Jimmy, my now husband. When you start dating someone seriously, you begin thinking and planning a future together. My dream of staying home with the kids was a scary one to bring up for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t feel like many people had that mindset anymore. Women do it all these days. Society’s expectations promote women exceling in the work place, while also remaining social butterflies with killer Instagrams, while also being very involved mothers, while also keeping a tidy home. Wow. Women are expected to do so much and I applaud all of them that do. The traditional role of the stay-at-home mom seemed to die years ago. Second, I was nervous to bring this up because it puts a lot on a partner’s shoulders. Being the sole provider is no easy feat. The stress and anxiety that comes with knowing you are the only one keeping a roof over a family’s head and food on the table is unimaginable. And third, I didn’t want Jimmy thinking I was ready to get married and have babies anytime soon.
However, when I did decide to share my dream, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had the exact vision for his own future family. In fact, he not only had the same vision, but he had a plan for how to get them there. Being raised by a stay-at-home mom himself, Jimmy knew the value and had the same desire to provide his children with his same experiences.
As soon as Jimmy and I got married, we began the process of saving. Like I said, Jimmy had a plan to make my mommy dreams come true. We knew that we needed to save up money if I wanted to stay home with babies in five years time. Five years was plenty of time to save. So, we lived off one salary and saved as much as we could of the other, in order to, one day, make the transition to one income easier.
In the meantime, I was loving my time as “Mrs. Schmitzer.” Teaching really is my passion. I love watching children discover something new. I love reading books to and with students, watching them fall in love with characters and authors. I love building an atmosphere of safety and watching them grow socially and become a little classroom family. I love hugs in the morning and reading their stories about the way they see the world. I love that I leave everyday with at least a dozen funny memories of the crazy things kids do and say. I love that my students tell me I’m their “school mommy.” Teaching is a difficult field and plenty of things can break your heart. I worked in a Title I school with economically disadvantaged students with difficult home situations. I’ve seen all kinds of extreme behavior. I’ve called CPS. I’ve had my students tell me the most horrendous stories about their weekend at home. But, there are little moments throughout the day that make it all worth it.
When I fell pregnant, I was overjoyed. This is what I’ve wanted since I was two. I’m about to be a mommy. Then, when God answered our prayers and we knew staying at home was possible, I was over the moon. However, a little part of me realized what this meant. I’d be leaving the classroom, even if temporarily. I had studied education for five years at Texas State to teach for two (thanks mom and dad). My career was just beginning. I was becoming a better teacher with every year. I was discovering the best practices. I was becoming more confident in my abilities. I thought I’d have four more years in the classroom. To give it up so suddenly was both scary and unsettling.
When I called my principal to resign, I feel that I was far from professional. My voice was cracking and the tears were close to falling. I don’t even think I asked how she was doing…I’m pretty sure I just jumped in to get it over with.
Yet, as difficult as this was, I felt those little kicks. And I put my hand on my tummy to feel their little somersaults and I knew that what I was doing was right.
The world is scary right now. There is a lot of unknown. If I stay in the classroom, I would be learning how to teach students both virtually and in person. I would be risking the health of my newborns every time I came home from being in a classroom full of kids, where I know social distancing would be impossible. I wouldn’t be giving 100% as a teacher because I’d also be learning how to be a first time mom of two. If I stayed in the classroom, daycare or a nanny for two infants would eat up most of my paycheck. How much would I truly contribute to my school life and home life?
Therefore, my heart aches to close my chapter as Mrs. Schmitzer, but my heart is leaping knowing I’m about to live out my dream job as mommy.