I Love My Students But I’m Done Neglecting My Own Kids for My Job

I Love My Students But I'm Done Neglecting My Own Kids for My Job

“Hey Mom, want to play Uno with me?”

“Maybe after dinner. I just need to finish this lesson plan.”

Dinner comes and goes and Uno doesn’t happen. I forgot about the videos I have to make for tomorrow and he seems happy for the extra videogame time.

“Mommy, can you come lie with me until I fall asleep?”

“I can’t. I have papers to grade.”

I tuck him in, reheat a cup of coffee, and quietly retreat to my home office (a corner in the living room) where I grade stacks of papers way past my bedtime.

“I don’t want to go to school today! I think I’m sick.”

This actually catches my attention for a second, because my son loves school. Then I look at the clock and realize I’m not going to make the morning IEP meeting I am supposed to be in if I don’t leave right now. My husband takes over and later tells me he let our son stay home because he cried so hard he made himself throw up. He was adamant that he could not make it to school.

This happened for nearly a week until he finally broke. He was scared, not sick.

“Mommy what if you’re next? What if you get sick like your friend?”

This feels like a punch in the gut. One of our family friends, another teacher in my building, was the first person that he actually knew that got sick. I told my kids about it in passing, but never took the time to explain she was going to be OK. I never took the time to explain any of this. What teacher parent actually has that kind of time?

I do now.

Actually, no, I don’t, but I’m making a conscious decision to put my own kids first.

Teachers do so much for their students – in and out of the classroom. Being a teacher parent is a constant pull between your own children and your students. Unrealistically high expectations and heavy workloads inadvertently mean our own families too often get our leftovers.

I was heartbroken to realize I had absolutely nothing left to give my own son, emotionally, mentally, or physically, when he needed me most. I’m setting only one resolution for 2021. My own kids will come first. I’m setting boundaries, learning to say no without the guilt, and giving myself grace when papers don’t get graded quickly or emails answered immediately.

More importantly, I’m saying yes to cuddles before bed and Uno games after dinner, no matter what I still need to get done for school. I’m investing in my own children first: listening to their concerns, validating their feelings, advocating for their physical and mental health, even when it means I don’t get as much work done.

I’ll continue being a great teacher this year, but I’m vowing to be an even better mom.


My own kids

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Senior Member

Samantha is a high school English teacher from Monroe, Ohio, as well as a momma to three boys and a wife. She has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction, but spends most of her days looking for missing Crocs and correcting grammar mistakes. Between soccer practices, grading papers, and trying to keep up with laundry (ha!), things get pretty busy. And, with three boys things also get pretty loud! But in between the chaos she writes. 

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