49 Comments

  1. Penny – your writing is always fabulous but this post has all the ❤️. I love to see how this time away from teaching has broadened your perspective on who you are. I think it is common to spend so much time focusing on one thing that it starts to define us. My sister is a teacher and I watched her go through the same evolution when she became a mom. It’s a beautiful thing!! I am sorry I didn’t get a chance to chat with you more at FinCon and I am super bummed I didn’t get to meet HP. All the more why I hope to see you at FinCon18…or perhaps a mini meetup on a school holiday??

  2. You’re probably already right back in it at work, so I hope day one went well and kept you busy!
    The thing that impressed me most about this post was your commitment to teaching, even at a time when it is so challenging to walk back through that door. If only every kiddo could have a teacher like you!
    Honestly, those numbers make me squirm. Obviously having kids is expensive, but the support for new moms needs to be better!

    • The numbers make me squirm, Sarah! I’m so excited to get a paycheck this week, but I know it’s going to be really hard to know I’m back working full time but not getting paid my usual rate.

      Still, my students are amazing and my coworkers totally held down the fort for me. Everyone who has to return to work would be so fortunate to return to what I’m coming back to!

  3. Aww Penny, I’m sure this first day back hasn’t been easy on you. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed your time with the little chub monster though. 🙂

    Also, I’m not sure if this would help, but I heard of a heart rate monitor that you can put on your baby’s foot (it looks like a sock). It’ll alert you if anything goes wrong while he’s sleeping so you don’t have to panic and check if he’s breathing. It’s pricey but when we have kids I’m totally getting one.

    • It’s the Owlet! We thought about getting one but have also heard that there are a lot of false alarms. I’m not sure which way would be more nervewracking! Knock on wood, we getting closer to the age where the risk of SIDS decreases dramatically. Unfortunately, though, HP still hasn’t gotten the memo that nighttime is for sleeping 😉

      Thanks for always finding time to leave such thoughtful comments. They mean so much.

  4. I love so much about this! After 13 years of being a mom, nothing has defined my life more than that work. It was really hard for me to go back to work. But. At the same time, mothering a baby carries a certain kind of intensity. And work was so low key compared. Like I could take a full 2 minutes to pee and not worry about the weird noise coming from the other side of the door. I hope you can enjoy the great parts of work (and paycheck) while finding the balance. It was so great to see you at FinCon! There were so many more things I wanted to chat with you about! Maybe another Skype date. =)

  5. You did a great job writing about this. I hope your transition back goes smoothly and you are able to find a good routine/balance. Becoming a mother is so awesome but, yes, I bet you’ll appreciate that adult time at work, too. Take care!

  6. Becoming a mom changed your life-and perspecive-in ways that are really hard to explain until you’ve been through it. My time home with my boys when they were born were not financially lucrative, but wonderful. I’ve been a mom since two months after I finished college, so I don’t really know what it’s like to work without kids. Best of luck with your return to work! The first few days are typically the hardest, but it gets easier.

  7. You had me going there with the first few sentences. I have a whole new appreciation for moms after having my daughter and seeing all the work my girlfiend put in even when I tried to help. Some nights I would wake up and she would just want Mom.

    I hope to get our finances in a good spot so she can begin working part time and spend more time with our daughter.

  8. My year with JuggerBaby at home while working was maybe the hardest year I’ve had but compared to the years I worked just as hard on as little sleep, way more fun. Those drooling, chubby fisted, double chinned wonders! I only had him for a little while but I miss HP!

    I hate to be contradictory on this point but I would caution against spending money on the heart rate monitor for the baby though. As they exist right now, they’re actually not reliable enough nor is the data they record necessarily something doctors can work with. It’s been reported that they have sent many parents panicking to the emergency room for no reason so until their data and how to act on it is better defined, it’s not a great idea to spend the money on them. I recommend the little mirror under the nose instead! If I really needed to check if JB was breathing, that was cheap and easy 😉

  9. Awe Penny! Good luck today! We sacrifice so much for our babies and the $18,000 was the first of many sacrifices, including sleep! However like you said, it’s worth it! Especially when you get a big grin or a big laugh.

    I hope HP sleeps better soon- baby GYM also has not slept more than 4 hours except two times when it was 6. I felt like a million bucks the day after.

  10. Awe! Maternity leave is so hard and so wonderful all at once that it’s impossible to put a price value on the experience for a mother and her family. So glad you took full advantage of it. I love how you say that it expanded your world, because I totally know what you mean about a better job waiting for you at home. The same shift happened to me. Even though I like my job too, I cried at my desk my first day back at work. Good luck today!

  11. My best wishes to you as you transition…Worker to mom to working mom is a really tough one on the spirit. I remember both being eager to go back to work and reluctant at the same time. I liked work and my coworkers, but I missed my girl. And I’m so happy that circumstances and a few lifestyle changes mean I get to spend a lot more time with her, even though she’s older now and more independent.

    • I have to keep telling myself that I have options down the road, Emily. You are such an inspiration to me, especially when I see how much time you devote to Little Bit reflected on your Instagram (and I know it’s only a small slice of real life!). Just because I won’t be home when he’s a baby anymore, doesn’t mean that me being home at some point is less important.

  12. Kay

    Penny, take it from me. You are not embarking on a journey of “letting go’s”. First steps, school bus, dates, driver license, college, holy crap! Too bad you can’t be an online teacher, because you have no idea all the things you are gonna miss that you can never get back. Not trying to make you feel guilty at all, but with all the at home work that can be done, it might be an option. I did sales leads calling from home when my kids were little. Not much money, but it was well worth it.!

    Good luck with ALL your kids!

      • Thanks, Kay! I think a lot about making the jump to tutoring full time or freelancing or myriad other things that flicker through my head at 2 AM. My husband has been so supportive, encouraging me to consider taking the rest of this year or next year off. I told him that I really wanted to go back to see what it was like…and I don’t hate it. It’s exhausting but it’s been much better than I thought. I appreciate you reminding me of my options!

  13. Yep – life has been a series of naps for me too. Mr. Smith and I talk about sleep like starving people talking about food.

    I can identify with so much in this post. My world also expanded in huge, life-changing ways when I took on the job of Mommy. Having a child seems to add another layer of depth and perspective to every experience in life.

    I hope that you enjoy your return to teaching – and that the adjustment to your new normal goes well for everyone in the family.

  14. What a heartfelt post about a tough topic. All good things come to an end eventually, and it sounds like your time at home did you a world of good. I’m glad becoming a mom broadened your perspective rather than shrinking it. I know it is easy to go from having a lot of hobbies and interests to being defined only as a mom and having that role consume you, so good for you to find more interests and small beautiful moments. Wish you many more leaf-crunchy walks and cuddles.

    • As you know, students can do and say the sweetest things. My most…err…problematic student from last year was actually the first person to greet me on my day back. He opened the door and asked to see baby photos. It was exactly the reminder that I needed in terms of why I do what I do!

  15. I’ve said this before Penny, you have a voice that reaches into peoples hearts and plucks the strings. Today’s post is an example of you doing that. While I feel for you, I am comforted that there are parents out there who have entrusted their kids to you. As the husband of a teacher and the father of a high-school aged daughter, that means something to me.

    Who was it that said that having a child is like having your heart live outside your body. While that will always be true, I know you will find your balance. As your son grows and sees the dedication and love you bring to your profession, it will inform his choices and his sense of how to approach his life. And in the end, isn’t that what we are trying to do with our kids? If he has your voice, I’m sure he’ll grow to touch many hearts, just as you do.

  16. I love how you describe it as the best job in the world. Such a lovely perspective. It’s amazing the power our kiddos have over us and how much they change our view of everything. I know all parents say that’s what happens, I just didn’t believe it until I had my own.

    • There’s so much that I didn’t believe until I had him. Actually, one of the best ways I’ve heard parenting summarized was in a note from Ed Mills at Millionaire Educator. He told me that it wasn’t until he had his son that he realized just how much his parents loved him. And he’s right! There are so many things that go into parenting that I couldn’t even begin to guess at a few months ago.

  17. Sara

    I don’t say this to discourage you, but just to share my story. I live in Canada and I worked a crappy low wage job when I had an unexpected pregnancy 14 years ago. I got 50 weeks off work at 55% pay. No hospital or medical bills at all. Having an unexpected pregnancy was a still a huge financial setback that took us years to recover from (mostly because of daycare costs) – I cannot imagine how difficult it is for you to go back to work after 16 weeks, and to have to pay such a steep price just for those 16 weeks.

    • I’m so glad you shared, Sara! I think one of the most important things women (and men!) can do is to share their maternity (and paternity!) leave stories. They’re never going to be the same, and it’s really important for us to keep talking about the differences. So thank you.

    • I am happy that I’m in my classroom. My students are wonderful and last year’s students visit me every day for updates about my baby. Well, except for the one who asked when I was going to have my baby. I swear I’m 30 pounds lighter! I still love my job, but I definitely feel really torn pulling out of the driveway every morning! Having amazing coworkers helps, too.

  18. In my experience very few people like their jobs, and it looks like you are one of the few lucky ones :). As Sara above mentioned for us up in the Great White North is much easier when it comes to maternity leave, hospitals, etc. Unfortunately living in Canada has many other cons including high cost of living, low wages, terrible weather in most parts of the country,…

    • I’m so glad you pointed out the pros and the cons, Samantha! There’s always a tradeoff, I suppose. The weather outside of Chicago isn’t great, but it’s definitely not nearly as high cost as what I’ve learned about Canada from my blogger buddies! The pay in the teaching profession also isn’t great across the board, but I’m very lucky to teach in an affluent district. If we could just work on our maternity leave policies now 😉

  19. I hope your transition back went as smooth as possible. This post is an amazing testament to the value and importance of maternity and paternity leave. I hope you inspire other parents out there to take full advantage of the opportunity to spend time with their children when they are young!

  20. Bonnie

    Hi, Penny! I too went back to work FT after a 12-week maternity leave. It was hard, but as the weeks and months went by, it became easier, and as my daughter has gotten older, I’ve seen the ways she’s developed and grown in ways that she would not have (socialization, vocabulary, etc.) without being in preschool and daycare. Of course, there are times when she says, “Mama, I wish we could be together all day, every day,” (she’s four now), and that makes me weep every time. But we have a wonderful time together on weekends and in the evenings, and I try to remember that one day, I might be able to work from home, or work a four-day workweek, or what have you. Lots of teachers live in our neighborhood, and you have to remember that you will have the gift of having summers with HP!

  21. This is lovely. I feel similarly (but not the same) about the business I’m building. That work is my favorite of all the things I do. The FT gig to support it is worth it when I can see the impact I’ve had in my clients’ lives.

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