Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

Masthead header

For the Back-to-School Teacher Mom

I remember the Christmas of 2012 so well…it was when we finally announced our pregnancy with extended family and friends. Well, and the world.

There were so many exciting text messages and tight hugs, and I think it was the first time I had ever seen my grandmother cry.

It was also the first time I started to feel mixed emotions about the future of my work as it meshed with motherhood.

A friend of mine called to congratulate me, asking all the right questions and sharing her joy with me.

Then she made the statement, I just can’t imagine having kids right now…maybe ever. I like my work too much to give it up.

I sat listening for a moment, but then told her that I didn’t have plans to quit working. I confessed that I loved the life growing inside me deeply, but that I also found a lot of purpose and identity in holding a steady job.

And as I told her about the ways I felt led to serve in my home and in the workplace, it reminded me that we still haven’t quite come to accept the fact that a woman can do both—and do both well.

This is the part where I make a disclaimer:

If you are a SAHM, if you have chosen to leave work to spend time with your kids, and you are loving this time of soaking up memories with your littles, I APPLAUD YOU AND SUPPORT THIS. There are many days I want to be like you.

There is nothing dishonorable about being consistently present for your children and your husband, for working in the home and for loving it there. Many women are writing from your perspective and I think it is a beautiful and needed one!

This post, however, is for all you mommas who are gearing back up to enter the classroom. You’re doing your best to enjoy a few more play dates while laminating learning centers and scoping out teacher blogs in the wee hours of the morning.

This is for you, those who want more than anything to be a SAHM, but the student loan payments are just too high to give up an extra income. And for you, who are secretly excited to spend seven hours a day with somebody else’s crazy kids.

If you are a teacher, a custodian, an administrator, a paraprofessional, a cafeteria chef, or a professor, AND YOU HAVE YOUR OWN KID(S), I’m sensing your anxiety, sister.

The fibers of your heart are being stretched in what feels complete opposite directions. You lay awake at night imagining the faces that will soon fill the desks in your classroom, but you are already mourning the memories that you will be losing with your flesh and blood babies.

You question whether or not you are doing the right thing by going back to work. You remember the stress of the job and fear you will bring that stress into your home come August. You read the comments of women like yourself who have just called in their resignation, and you wonder whether you have chosen the greater good.

Can I just breathe a little life into you now? Can I speak a little truth?

Your place of influence does not have to stop with the children who live in your home.

Due to moving a gazillion times and then landing in a job overseas, I only experienced the classroom for three years. Now I’m a part-time language student and part-time grad student and part-time blogger/culture navigator.

But all it takes is closing my eyes and I can feel the nervous excitement of back-to-school time.

You don’t have to close your eyes to feel it. It’s becoming a part of your every day routine.

You’re looking at your class list and trying to place each student’s face. You’re cleaning cabinets and organizing libraries and re-reading curriculum. You’re making notes of new systems to initiate and new strategies to try.

And still, there’s part of you that seems to contradict this nervous excitement. It’s looking into the eyes of your own children and feeling as if you aren’t giving them enough as their mother. It’s the fear of losing their loyalty to a daycare provider or a relative, or even another teacher.

I need you to stop those thoughts right this second. Because they are self-imposed and they are not healthy.

What I do want you to do is to say a prayer of thanksgiving that the Father has counted you worthy to not only serve your biological children, but also the ones you will adopt into your heart this year.

Take a few moments to reflect on last May. Picture the names and faces of the children you graduated to the next grade. Remember the blessings that flowed from the lips of parents who were so thankful for how well you loved their children. Or maybe think on the students who had no one to support them on the last day of school…the ones who you wanted to take home for the summer.

If you are still in the throws of diaper duty and damage control like me, let’s face it: Our babies are going to grow up. And soon they will buy pencils and folders and backpacks. And while I still refuse to admit it, they’re going to be sent off to big person school in a few short years.

And when that happens, I want my kids to be loved by people like YOU. Women who would be ever so honored to spend their days at home, but have chosen to walk into the classroom and love someone else’s kids, too.

Don’t be deceived that you are only to find your worth in the children who call you “Mom.”

I’ve taught in private and public schools, and my friends, they are ALL dark places.

Children will be placed into your hands this year {I’m calling them children all the way through college, ok?}. And you have a responsibility.

Love well the person in front of you.

Whether you are choosing to work because you love it or because it’s a financial necessity, when you are at work, be present there.

Pray over the names of your students as you write their names on desk labels. Mold their character through discipline, but teach them about grace through your forgiveness. Witness to them each day as you share your life and your faith and your family with them.

And when you’ve graded the papers and picked up your own children and you walk back into your home, be present there, too.

Pray over your own children as you watch them play. Put away your cell phone so there’s no distraction from this sacred time. Invite them to share in your work as you tell them about your own personal mission field.

I’m going to say it again.

Your realm of influence can be powerful both in your work and in your home.

teacher moms

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

It will take much prayer. It will take loads of grace.

But don’t ever feed yourself lies that say your mothering is second-class. Don’t you dare believe that the children in your classroom or library or lecture hall need you any less.

You are the kind of woman that brings hope to children without. And that little light that you put inside your students is carried home to their families and into their neighborhoods and on into their futures.


You may remember Lydia, a merchant and seller of purple. She was a businesswoman and worked outside the home. She may have even been the breadwinner for her family.

But when the Lord opened her heart to hear His message, she ran home to tell her family about it, and they were all baptized.

I don’t think her family would have heard her message if she hadn’t been a woman who was balancing home and work well. So I’m going to believe this is proof that it can be done.

You can have a day job, and you can still be the main source of life and joy within the walls of your home. All through the power of Christ.

Teacher Moms—especially you with little ones—thank you for what you do.

Thank you for sacrificing the extra sleep as you worry about test scores and lesson plans. Thank you for modeling confident parenting as you juggle the needs of your children along with the needs of others.

And thank you for noticing the realm of your influence—for taking ownership of it and for doing it well.

You deserve to be appreciated, too.



emilytJuly 19, 2014 - 8:36 pm

Thank you for writing this. It’s everything I’m feeling right now.

LRVJuly 20, 2014 - 4:20 pm

I have been a teacher for over 20 years. I love being in the classroom. I have taught elementary and high school students. I have served in the traditional classroom and have also worked in a resource room. Yet, I am forever grateful that I took the time to be a SAHM while my children were pre-school. I taught before and after they were that age. Life has seasons. Perhaps you could consider staying home during the pre-school years and spend that precious time with your “home” children.

Ariel EvansJuly 20, 2014 - 5:16 pm

I’m a PreK teacher and when I graduated college I had 19 month old twins waiting in the stands cheering me on. When I got my first job as a teacher I was a full time day-by-day 2nd grade sub for 4 months. Then I taught Kindergarten in a different district, then transferred to PreK—during those years my husband was a stay at home parent. Last year was my 2nd year in PreK and my twins’ first year of school, PreK, and they were at my school (in the other PreK classroom). I learned more about my teaching and how I spoke to my students and their parents than I ever thought possible. For next year my district has reconfigured and I was assigned to 3 different schools and then finally assigned to the same school my twins tested into…our classrooms will be side by side. I’m so nervous and excited for all of us. Yes, I do sometimes feel like I don’t devote enough time to my children, BUT I also know they are well loved and cared for by many people in their family…my students don’t always have that luxury. So, sometimes I get to be mom to more kids….and my kids understand and actually welcome it.

Lauren PinkstonJuly 21, 2014 - 2:25 am

Oh Ariel – it sounds like you’ve been through a lot of transition in the last few years! Any time you change grades or jobs in the education field, there is a huge learning curve. I love to see your energy and commitment, and you can hear the love for your twins spilling out of this, too. Blessings on this school year!

Lauren PinkstonJuly 21, 2014 - 2:31 am

LRV – I am also grateful you had the time to be a SAHM while your kids were so young. I understand the beauty of that precious time with children, as I soak up every second I can with my little girl. I’m thankful that I’m in a season where my husband and I can BOTH be at home most of the day with her now. But we are in a unique setting that so many can’t enjoy. Those who are raising children as single parents, paying back outrageous school loans, or transitioning out of university programs are also in ‘season,’ and for that reason, I felt they should be encouraged. I’m glad you had that time with your children, and I don’t know many working mothers who enjoy being away from their own babies. Let’s champion each other on, shall we?

Lauren PinkstonJuly 21, 2014 - 2:32 am

I hope you are encouraged knowing you’re not alone, Emily. Thinking of you during this transition!

Anne Guse NeilitzJuly 21, 2014 - 8:44 am

I was sent this link from a friend of mine whose daughter will be in my classroom this year, and she is also a teacher at my school! I absolutely love this. Thank you! We just had a weekend away with our three kids to make fun memories and concentrate on them, since there are many times of guilty feelings throughout the school year! However, this year, in my 15th year of teaching, I get to experience having my own daughter as a student in my classroom! I am praying that the experience is amazing beyond our imagination!

KathyJuly 21, 2014 - 9:53 am

WOW!! You nailed it! Thank you so much for posting this encouraging message. I have three boys and have balanced work and home for the last 14 years, where for some of that time I was a single mom. I have had to balance going back to school, a classroom, home, 3 kids, sick family members and much more. I did have time with my boys when they were little, but went back to work full time before my youngest was 1.. that was 10 years ago. When our students walk into our classroom, they grab apart of our hearts, and I often refer to them as my kids. It is a gift that a parent would trust me to love on their child for the time I have them. I work with some amazing women at my school, who are a constant support. I also have a husband who loves my ambition and truly believes in me. I think that I gave my kids a gift, they saw me two years ago walk across the stage to receive my bachelor’s degree in education and make the transition in my career. I hope in the next few years they will see me obtain my masters. I feel that I have modeled for my children how to persevere, how to overcome, and a dream is sometimes worth fighting for. This message also trickles into my classroom. I have a mission field of children and families for 180 days. What can I allow God to do through me? My boys and I pray for my students, they are apart of my classroom as my students are apart of my heart. Thank you again. God Bless

Shauna McElroyJuly 21, 2014 - 4:46 pm

I can’t thank you enough for writing this! It is so nice to hear someone actually acknowledge these feelings and stresses and anxieties. Thank you for speaking to my heart and reducing some of my “mommy guilt”.

MRJuly 21, 2014 - 8:10 pm

Thank you for this. We are expecting our third this fall. I would love to be a SAHM, but despite being responsible financially, it’s not a possibility for us right now for lots of reasons. This is the perfect encouragement that I needed. It’s nice to know that another woman believes I can be both mom and teacher and do both well.

Hollee WeltyJuly 21, 2014 - 9:32 pm

Thank you so much for this article! I had just posted on facebook tonight that I I get sooo sad when summer is over. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old at home and I want more than anything to stay at home. I have always loved teaching and I am going into my 13th year. It all changed once I had my babies. It is a constant struggle for me because I love to teach but have guilt being away from my children. This article is a HUGE HELP! I will be reading this over and over again before going back to mold young minds. Thank you again!

KristinaJuly 21, 2014 - 10:56 pm

I love teaching and I love being a mom. I love that my 5 year old will start pre-school and I love that my principal (also a mother) is letting me flex my time our first work-day back to take him to his pictures. I love waking up and going to my job where I feel empowered and strong and learn constantly. . .and I love coming home to my kids where I feel empowered, strong, and am a continuous learner. Having kids and working at the same time has taught me balance I have never had before. I let go of school when I leave and work more efficiently while I’m there. I have a co-worker that stayed home at TWO different seasons of her kids lives. Pre-school and Middle school. For their family, middle school was the precious years because kids are very influenced in a new way of adolescence and they got to be the parents that were there to pick them up and knew every parent and every child that their kids were interacting with. For my family, I love that I get to work and be a SAHM every summer. You have blessed your family with your choices as I hope I am blessing mine with mine!

AndriaJuly 22, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Wow! This is exactly how I am feeling this last week. Summer goes so fast and it is back to the balancing act. Thank you for your encouraging words and reminding us it is ok to enjoy our work too :)

Lauren PinkstonJuly 23, 2014 - 2:51 am

Of course, Andria. Soak up the last few days at home!! August will be a wild ride I’m sure!!

Lauren PinkstonJuly 23, 2014 - 2:53 am

Thanks for sharing, Hollee!! Blessings to you in this season!

Lauren PinkstonJuly 23, 2014 - 2:56 am

Shauna – Mommy guilt is one of the enemy’s greatest tools against us, amen? Christ has never judged us for desiring to please Him with an open heart. May you {and myself included} learn to walk confidently in the way He has crafted us…because sister, I have spent way too long make excuses for living out what He has asked me do! So many blessings to you!

Lauren PinkstonJuly 23, 2014 - 3:00 am

I’m fully confident that I’m not the only one who believes in you. Good luck this year and with the end of your pregnancy!

Lauren PinkstonJuly 23, 2014 - 3:01 am

Look at you go, mama! I love this story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Lauren PinkstonJuly 23, 2014 - 3:03 am

How exciting, Anne! Obviously the friend who sent you this link believes her daughter will be blessed by you this year…so you’re already a living testimony of a loving, effective teacher. How fun this year will be for you!!

LindsayJuly 23, 2014 - 12:43 pm

Thank you!!

DLCGJuly 23, 2014 - 6:44 pm

I have a 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and new baby. My heart is torn this year. I long to be at home with my baby as well as being at school teaching 2nd grade with my older children right down the hall. Thank you for your beautiful words.

VickieJuly 23, 2014 - 11:26 pm

This is just what I needed! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement!

StephanieJuly 23, 2014 - 11:34 pm

Thank you so much for your beautiful words of encouragement. I’m going into my 4th year of teaching and my baby is going into kindergarten. I’m a single mom and I feel so blessed to have found my son a school where the teachers and administrators love my son almost as much as I do. Your words are very encouraging and I will definitely be reading it again and again.

Desiree PauleyJuly 24, 2014 - 3:32 pm

I needed this today. My little guy is 6 months old and I’ve having such a hard time wrapping my head around going back to a classroom fully of sweet, clingy, lovey 5 year olds while sending my guy off to daycare and being 100% present in both the mommy and teacher roles. Let’s add a breastfeeding goal of 1 year and a RN husband who works 5PM-5AM night shift into to that equation and that adds up to a lot of stress. I also had to laugh when you wrote about those pesky student loans…as I sit here and wonder how much longer those are going to be hanging over our heads. Gah! Cannot wait to pay them off!

Thanks for the article.

Warmly, The kindergarten teaching, breastfeeding and pumping wonder woman momma. (Or at least I like to think I have powers close to wonder woman!)

MeganJuly 25, 2014 - 4:08 pm

Simply beautiful and exactly where my heart is. We have 6 children, including 3 from Haiti and I KNOW I have been called to parent these sweet souls, I also KNOW I have been called to teach. Both callings are sacred and important and many people miss that concept. It is exhausting and hard and beautiful and crazy and hilarious and a million other things, it’s definitely not for everyone but it’s very rewarding to me!

MissyJuly 26, 2014 - 6:58 am

Thank you Lauren, for putting words to what I have felt for a long time. I have taught for going on 22 years. My kids are 19 and 13 now. With The exception of me working part time the year before my son went to kindergarten I have been full time teacher and mom. Many of my church friends now stay home or home school, I am glad for their option. What I am not glad about is when it’s insinuated that’s the only way to be a good mom. We all have different options and different paths. What I will take from this is no matter what that is, prayer, can help it be successful. ❤️

TammyJuly 26, 2014 - 9:12 pm

I am blessed to be a mom of 2 very active, busy boys. Our life is full. I feel God called me to not only be a mom, but a teacher as well. In fact, I am a better mom when I teach. I appreciate the time with my boys and the time with my students.